Jackson football gaining experience despite playoff loss
JACKSON TWP. Two months into a truly unusual high school football season, the oddities came full circle Friday night for the Jackson Polar Bears.
In their eighth game of the campaign, they found themselves dealing with the same unusual occurrence that marked their season opener against Canton McKinley: a mid-game weather delay.
In that game, Jackson came out on the losing end. This time around, against a different pack of Bulldogs, inclement weather didn't prevent the Polar Bears from claiming a 34-14 win over Green.
"It was another strange night in a strange season," Jackson head coach Tim Budd said. "We came out ready to play and when they closed the gap and made a couple of big plays, we responded. We played hard and tackled well."
This weather delay was a bit different than the one in the McKinley game, Budd noted. Aside from the conditions being chillier this time around, there were times that finishing the game on Friday night was in doubt.
At one point, it was announced that the contest - halfway done - would be completed on Saturday.
Yet after a couple of hours on hold, the game resumed and when it did, the Jackson offense kept chugging along behind junior running back Brenden Craig, who delivered one of his best outings of the season with two rushing touchdowns.
"He was an angry runner. He ran with purpose and ran through tackles," Budd said. "We got better with blocking as the game went on after not having played a game in two weeks."
The two-week hiatus came between Jackson's playoff elimination and its three scheduled regular-season games after that point, as allowed by the Ohio High School Athletic Association this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects.
Getting as many games in as possible is a top goal for teams and in addition to giving Jackson's seniors a chance to close out there career on a positive note, the closing games against Green, Louisville and Nordonia are valuable for the underclassmen who can return next season.
"It's pretty important we continue to work on our fundamentals and get our reps in," Budd said. "You think of the teams that make deep playoff runs every year and they basically get five extra weeks of practice to improve."
When it comes to Louisville, Budd sees a team that runs the ball well and bases a solid play action passing game off that rushing attack, using downfield shots to move the ball in big chunks.
"Their quarterback does nice job of play action and throwing deep, so we have to have good discipline especially with our eyes from our defensive backs," Budd said of Louisville quarterback Tyler Jackson.
The basic goal this Friday is a win by building on a good performance last week, taking steps in the right direction. At 3-5, Jackson has dealt with close losses this season, so finding ways to win games and close them out continues to be a focal point.
Simply being able to play at all has been a blessing for not only Jackson, but the dozens of other area teams taking advantage of this year's scheduling rules to play additional regular-season games through the end of October and into November.
Although those squads would prefer to still be in the postseason and vying for a state title, being able to play anything close to a full season was far from certain just over two months ago. Every chance to play is a win, making each win an even more memorable outcome.