JACKSON — In 90 previous meetings, it’s unlikely a younger Jackson squad has ever faced the Logan Chieftains.
The Red and White have only eight seniors on their roster, and only four of them see significant playing time, and that includes kicker Jimmy Voiles (5-8, 220).
The Ironmen will likely have four freshmen see significant minutes and a plethora of sophomores will be relied upon as well.
Jackson was dealt a crushing blow last week in its league opener at Warren (a 35-20 win) when Derek Rafferty (6-0, 195, junior), the Ironmen’s most athletic and gifted ball carrier, was lost for the season due to a torn ACL.
The Ironman offense looks much like it has for decades: strong backs running behind a strong offensive line using option and multiple formations.
Andy Hall’s team averages barely over 10 pass attempts per game and over 250 yards per game on the ground. Last week against Warren, the Ironmen switched to an unbalanced line (meaning the two tackles line up beside each other to overload that side of the field) after the first quarter and ran only a handful of pass plays against the Warriors on the way to over 400 yards rushing.
With Rafferty out, Gabe Griffiths (5-11, 200, junior) and Jake Crabtree (6-1, 194, sophomore) will share the bulk of the carries. Griffiths leads JHS with 334 yards and five scores on 60 carries while Crabtree adds 258 yards and five touchdowns on 43 carries. Griffiths leads Jackson with six catches for 100 yards and one touchdown.
Freshman sensation Johnny Farley has emerged since Rafferty’s injury and contributed 157 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries. He scored Jackson’s first two touchdowns last week at Warren.
Quarterback Hunter Sexton (5-10, 198, sophomore) will be more of a running threat than a passer. Sexton is second on the team with 330 yards rushing with two touchdowns on 54 carries. He has completed 28 of 63 passes for 300 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions.
Reagan Williams (6-4, 232, junior) is seen as a top-300 prospect in the country in the junior class. He will line up as an H-back, flexing between the backfield and tight end on offense. He has five catches for 87 yards with one score. Cole Bachtel (6-1, 202, junior) will play at tight end.
The Jackson offensive line is smaller than usual, averaging around 216 pounds per man from tackle to tackle.
Collin Massie (5-9, 186, sophomore) and Austin Fairchild (5-8, 208, junior) are the guards with Connor Staten (5-8, 201, junior) playing at center. Three players will rotate at the tackle spots: John Martin (6-4, 221, junior), Elijah Woolum (6-4, 252, sophomore), and Jordan Helman (6-4, 228, senior).
On defense, Jackson is good at adjusting to opposing offenses. Larry Hall, the father of head coach Andy Hall, coaches the defense and the unit is well-prepared each week.
The three-man defensive line features Fairchild, Codey Roseberry (6-0, 215, freshman), Raymond Potter (6-0, 200, freshman) and Tyler Humphreys (5-10, 217, junior) rotating at the tackle positions. Woolum and Billy Cooper (5-8, 185, freshman) will rotate at nose guard.
At times, Jackson will line up three freshmen (Roseberry, Potter, and Cooper) on the defensive line together.
While Williams is a talented offensive player, scouts at the next level are recruiting him for his defensive talent. He leads the JHS defense from inside linebacker but also can move to the defensive line if needed. Staten and Crabtree will both see time at the other inside linebacker position.
Crabtree, Griffiths, Bachtel, Jacob Bowman (5-8, 171, senior), and Trey Barger (5-11, 215, sophomore) will all rotate at outside linebacker.
Charlie Fitch (5-10, 192, junior), Rhys Jones (5-7, 144, sophomore), Austin Cantor (5-7, 145, junior), and Austin Edwards (5-11, 163, sophomore) have also seen time at cornerback, and one of them will have to replace Rafferty.
Alan Parana (5-7, 157, senior) and Sexton played the safety positions at Warren last week but the Ironmen are hopeful that Reagin Conley (5-11, 175, sophomore) will be back so that Sexton can stick to playing quarterback only.
Logan football historian Spencer Waugh of loganfootball.com previews the Chiefs’ opponent every Thursday in The Logan Daily News.