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Jackson football remains undefeated versus in-state teams after 28-point rout of Holt

Senior quarterback Adrian Fox scored a single-season high three touchdown runs in the Jackson football team’s 28-point, 48-20 win over Holt last Friday night at The Pit. Photo by Jay Forness

In what was the Jackson football team’s final regular-season game at The Pit last week, the Indians showcased why they’re in the No. 8 ranked team in Missouri’s top classification, Class 6.

Jackson (7-1) has yet to lose to a team in Missouri this fall and picked up a 28-point, 48-20 win over Class 4 Holt (5-3) on Friday night. The Indians, who have only lost to out-of-state Edwardsville IL (7-1), fell to Holt by two scores last year.

Leading the scoring attack for Jackson was none other than the team’s starting quarterback senior Adrian Fox as he scored a game-high three rushing touchdowns. Fox entered the game having only scored twice on the ground this fall.

Jackson’s offensive line was tasked with facing one of the top defensive ends in the state in Holt senior Mason Burke, who is verbally committed to Lindenwood and entered the game with eight sacks. He sacked Fox once.

“We knew their pass defense was phenomenal heading into it — shout-out to Holt, they played an amazing game throughout,” Fox said. “We just had to take our strengths and put it against not necessarily their weakness — because they definitely had a good run defense, too — but we had to attack where we could attack best.”

This is Adrian’s first and final season as unquestionably the Indians starting quarterback after splitting starts with 2023 graduate Zach Calder as a junior. On top of winning seven games and going undefeated at home in the regular season this fall, Fox led Jackson to win its fifth-straight SEMO North Conference Championship back in Week 6.

The Indians are also on pace to have a first-round bye in the Class 6 District 1 Tournament after falling in the semifinals one year ago. Jackson had a bye in districts last year as well, of course, but they now have consistency at the quarterback position with Fox.

“You’ve just gotta take it like every other week — you’ve gotta stay in the present and work hard,” Fox said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re the starter or not because you’ve gotta continue working hard.”

Fox is also joined by a bevy of skilled players like freshman running back Jaylon Hampton, along with what Adrian defines as the best wide receiver core in the state, which is led by junior Kai Crowe and senior Blayne Harris. Even though they didn’t score against Holt, both Crowe and Harris made crucial plays through the air to extend drives.

Jackson’s defense has proven to be a formidable unit as it has yet to give up more than three scores in a game since Week 4, which included three-straight shutouts and holding Holt to just one score in the second half of last week’s contest.

The Indians were facing a Holt team that possessed a quarterback in senior Ayden Sullivan, who had yet to throw an interception heading into the matchup. Jackson junior cornerback Tyson Ford changed that when he came up with a pick in the third quarter to end Holt’s first drive of the second half.

Hampton, who actually went without scoring in the first half, added a touchdown two drives later after Ford’s touchdown. Jaylon had a few more big runs throughout the third and fourth quarter and all but put the game away with his second score of the night to make the score 41-13 with eight minutes, 38 seconds left in the game.

Jackson senior cornerback TJ Altenthal was the only Indian to score outside of Fox in the first half as he did so in a jumbo package with a 2-yard run. Along with this score, Altenthal also blocked Holt’s first extra-point try after it scored on its first possession.

Players like senior defensive lineman Hayden Wessell and Reid Landers lined up in the backfield and blocked for Altenthal on his touchdown run. Wessell, who is one of Jackson’s leader in tackles, tackles for a loss and sacks, continued to prove to be indispensable on the defensive side of the ball.

Hayden easily led the game in tackles while chasing ball carriers down no matter where they were on the field and notched a sack as did junior inside linebacker Marcus Cutsinger.

“I just look at it like it’s my last game,” Wessell said. “I enjoy every moment of it because my dad always told me, ‘It’s four years and it goes by fast.’ It really has, so that’s just what I do. I credit our preparation [for my success]. It’s hours of watching film — this year especially we do a lot of film watching.”

Wessell, who has originally played linebacker until moving to his current position of defensive end last year, is excited for what he and the team can do this postseason after failing to win what would’ve been a fifth-straight district title last fall.

“I’m feeling great — I’m ready to play Festus and finish out the season strong,” Wessell said. “For me it’s all about momentum. If one of us makes a big play, we all celebrate together as a team. That builds our confidence.”

For Jackson’s final game of the regular season, the Indians will travel north and face another Class 4 team in Festus (6-2). The Tigers lost to Valle Catholic (7-1) and Hillsboro (7-1) by scores of 20-6 and 42-21, respectively.

As for the district playoffs, Jackson is looking at earning the No. 2 seed behind unbeaten Seckman (8-0), which is coming off a 28-7 win over district opponent Oakville (4-4). The Jaguars will travel to Webster Groves (3-4) for the fin regular-season game.

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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