Jackson football moves to 11-0, claims Class 5 District 1 crown with 49-20 win over Fox

Jackson's Dalton Skrob (82) holds up the team's plaque after taking a group picture following the Indians' 49-20 win against Fox in the Class 5 District 1 championship game Friday in Jackson.
Jacob Wiegand ~ Southeast Missourian

For the second year in a row, the Jackson Indians are champions of Class 5 District 1. The Tribe picked up its second consecutive championship by defeating Fox, 49-20.

It was the most points put up against Brent Eckley's squad this season.

With the win, Jackson (11-0) moves on to play Eureka, the Class 5 District 2 champion, in sectional action Friday at the Pit.

Eureka (10-1) blanked Vianney, Jackson's playoff nemesis in recent postseason play, 36-0.

The Missouri State High School Activities Association had originally scheduled the next round of play to be played Saturday, Nov. 23.

Prior to Friday's action, Eckley reached out to Eureka and Vianney to ask if either would mind playing Friday night rather than Saturday afternoon. Both clubs agreed to Nov. 22 if they advanced.

"We wanted a Friday night game to keep the (Friday night) routine," Eckley said, "and fortunately both those schools agreed."

MSHSAA reportedly has agreed to make the scheduling change.

Fox (8-3) drew first blood against Jackson, executing a four-play, 73-yard opening drive. Warriors quarterback Brock Inman scampered in from 44 yards out to make it 6-0. Fox's extra point attempt failed.

Jackson put up the next 21 points.

Senior Seth Waters scored his first touchdown of the night on a 1-yard run with 6:36 left in the first quarter.

With time expiring in the first, Cael Welker hit Dalton Skrob with an 8-yard TD pass to make it 14-6.

After an ensuing three-and-out by Fox, Jackson struck again, as sophomore Kannen Turley pulled in the first of three TD passes on the night, a 35-yard strike from Welker to make it 21-6.

Fox, demonstrating a quick-strike capability, scored on its first play from scrimmage after getting the ball back. Juhaud Thompson pulled in a 65-yard aerial from Warriors QB Brock Inman to close the gap to 21-13.

The Fox offense sputtered after that and the Indians took advantage, scoring the next 28 points.

Waters pulled in a 20-yard TD pass from Welker and Turley pulled in the next two scores as Welker connected with the sophomore for touchdowns of 30 and 1 yards, respectively,

The Indians went up 42-13 at halftime.

Jackson received the second half kickoff and drove 57 yards in three plays, capped off by Waters' second TD of the night, a 2-yard scamper, to increase the lead to 49-13, ending the Indians scoring for the night.

The last 20 minutes of the game went quickly as the running clock was put into effect.

Cameron Marchi entered the game in relief of Welker with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter and finished the contest.

Fox put up one more score late, as Luke Pisoni had a 3-yard run for six with 3:54 left in the fourth.

Fox coach Brent Tinker, in his ninth year, had nothing but praise for the host team after a tearful postgame talk with the Warriors' 14 seniors.

"Coach Eckley's a great dude," Tinker said. "We wanted to challenge them with pressure and man coverage and (the Indians) were certainly up to it."

Tinker had his team try three onside kicks in the game, all of which were recovered by the Tribe near midfield, giving Jackson great field position each time.

"That (Welker) is a great quarterback, he finds receivers," Tinker said, "and we did (the onside kicks) to try to keep the ball out of his hands."

Eckley was not surprised at Fox's onside gamble.

"We spent an extra 15 minutes this week preparing for that very thing," Eckley said. "We knew Poplar Bluff missed on a couple of onsides last week (against Fox) and it was the difference in that game."

After playing just over three quarters, Welker finished by going 16-for-20 and 261 yards, including five TDs, bringing his season TD total to 40.

Waters was the usual workhorse out of the backfield, with 21 carries for 48 yards. He also pulled in two Welker passes for an additional 33 yards.

Fox's Thompson recorded the most receiving yards for either squad, with three catches for 109 yards.

Jackson had 20 first downs to seven for Fox.

The Indians committed six penalties while Fox was called for four.

Ball security continues to be a minor issue for the Indians as Jackson ballcarriers fumbled four times -- recovering three and seeing the fourth go out of bounds.

Eckley gambled on fourth down twice and converted on both.

"We put third and fourth down conversions up on the white board as a priority this week," said Eckley.

Jackson was also 4-for-5 in third down situations.

Eckley is ready for the next step and eager to welcome the Wildcats to the Pit.

"(Eureka) has a played a tough schedule and has been super physical," Eckley said. "They're solid offensively, run the ball well, and on defense, they're really, really good."

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