Jackson scouting report: Ironmen have dominated some traditional powerhouses en route to 6-0 start to season
JACKSON — Considering that Logan and Jackson have won at least a share of the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League title in 17 of the last 20 seasons, it should come as no surprise that the media, fans, coaches and players expect Friday night’s matchup at Alumni Stadium to have significant SEOAL title implications.
And while Logan is the defending champion thanks to a 28-21 last-minute win a season ago, Jackson is the clear favorite heading into tomorrow night’s matchup.
The Ironmen are 6-0 — their best start since they completed a perfect regular season and advanced to the second round of the OHSAA playoffs in 2011.
Last week, Jackson rested several key starters and still dominated Warren in its league opener by a score of 28-5.
The Ironmen are in a lot of ways a faster, more-athletic version of the Loudonville team the Chieftains faced in week four.
Both Jackson and Loudonville are ranked in the top ten in the state in their respective divisions; both are physical up front; both have athletic quarterbacks, and both play outstanding defense.
The Ironman offense is averaging nearly 33 points per game and controls possession of the football with a devastating ground game. Jackson has rolled up nearly 295 yards per game on the ground and averages over seven yards per carry.
The JHS ground attack is highlighted by its depth. Four players have rushed for more than 300 yards and four have scored at least four touchdowns.
Senior Derek Rafferty (6-0, 195), who missed last year’s game with Logan due to injury, paces the ground game with 454 yards and nine touchdowns on 60 carries. Rafferty did not play last week against Warren, but should be full-go against the Chieftains.
Jake Crabtree (6-3, 205, junior) is second on the team with five touchdowns while Johnny Farley (5-8, 151, sophomore) is a scat back with four scores and 329 yards on 41 carries.
Raymond Potter (6-1, 218, sophomore) has been the big-play threat out of the backfield, averaging nearly 17 yards per rush. Potter has carried 20 times for 338 yards and four touchdowns.
Junior quarterback Hunter Sexton (5-11, 202) is the man who makes the Ironman offense move. Sexton has rushed 59 times for 324 yards and a touchdown, mainly on option looks and scrambles out of the shotgun. The signal-caller has completed 27-of-65 passes for 484 yards with four touchdowns and only one interception.
Austin Leach (5-11, 159, junior) is the top pass-catcher with 15 receptions for 254 yards and three touchdowns. Stephen Sloop (6-2, 186, senior) and Danton Hatfield (6-0, 158, senior) will also see time at receiver.
Last but not least, the Ironmen run behind an excellent offensive line highlighted by Stanford University verbal commitment Reagan Williams (6-3, 238, senior).
Williams lines up at tight end, where he has caught five passes for 69 yards and a touchdown, and is such a strong blocker that a lot of the Jackson offense is designed around him.
Jackson will often line up in unbalanced sets, meaning that two tackles will line up side-by-side with Williams playing as a tackle on the weak side.
Joining Williams up front are center Connor Staten (5-9, 218, senior); guards Tyler Humphreys (5-11, 232, senior) and Austin Fairchild (5-10, 235, senior), and tackles Codey Roseberry (6-1, 230, sophomore), Elijah Woolum (6-4, 280, junior) and Tre Barger (6-0, 221, junior).
While Jackson has been impressive and productive on offense, its defense has been absolutely dominating.
The Red and White defense is allowing fewer than five points and fewer than 160 yards per game. Jackson’s defense has allowed less than 65 yards per game on the ground and less than 2.25 yards per carry.
Like Loudonville, JHS will line up in a 3-3 stack defense, giving the Ironmen the flexibility to defend both power-run formations and the spread. Like Loudonville, Jackson’s strength is in its front seven — especially at linebacker.
Williams is an excellent anchor for the Jackson defense, where he is joined at linebacker by Barger and Potter. Cole Bachtel (6-1, 212, senior) will also see time. The JHS linebackers are athletic and flow to the football extremely well.
Up front, an undersized unit on paper plays big and disrupts offensive lines leaving the linebackers often free to clean up. Cossie Rawlins (5-9, 200, senior) is joined by a pair of sophomores in Roseberry and Billy Cooper (5-11, 198).
Sexton and Rhys Jones (5-8, 160, junior) will play the strong safety positions for the Ironmen while Rafferty and Reagin Conley (6-1, 186, junior) are the cornerbacks. Collin Massie (5-11, 182, junior) is the free safety.
Sheldon Moore (5-10, 182, junior) will handle placekicking duties while Gabe Griffiths (6-0, 192, senior) will do the punting. Rafferty and Sexton return punts while Leach, Rafferty, and Farley return kick-offs.
Logan football historian Spencer Waugh of loganfootball.com previews the Chiefs’ opponent every Thursday in The Logan Daily News.