Saturday was one of those days that you truly appreciate, especially if you’ve spent most of the previous four evenings wearing multiple layers of cold-weather clothing, subconsciously turning your body so the wind isn’t in full-frontal mode and feeling your ears crack.
My Saturday was spent in Jackson, which is only eight miles from the Iowa border. Our neighbors to the south are also in high school football playoff mode, only they will have games on Monday night. Is that weird or is it just me? ... me being a person who has witnessed football games this fall on Fridays, Thursdays, Wednesday and Saturdays.
The sun was bright Saturday, but the chill hadn’t entirely left us. It was what I would call a “mittens and sunglasses” kind of day. The Jackson County Central Huskies met the Windom Eagles in a Class 2A Section 3 semifinal game, and the outcome was not much of a surprise. Jackson led 21-0 after one quarter and rolled to a 42-0 victory.
Top-seeded Jackson County Central (9-1), ranked eighth in 2A, will now face Luverne (8-2) in the section championship game Friday night at Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall.
Fourth-seeded Windom Area (5-4) had opened the season with four victories before losing four in a row, including a 29-0 loss to JCC in the regular-season finale. Thus the “not much of a surprise” factor Saturday.
Jackson had defeated beat St. James 48-0 in Tuesday’s playoff opener and Windom got past Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial 21-0.
I HAD DRIVEN through Jackson many times but Saturday was my first stop in town. The high school is surrounded by acres of spacious athletic facilities, some of the finest I have seen in the state. Wacker Field is a wonderful spot for baseball and Swearingen Field, home of the Huskies football team, is top-notch.
There is no track around the football field, so the fans are right on top of things. An old press box sits on one side of the field and a newer version is across the way. There are eight wooden light poles that carry 32 bulbs; I imagine it’s not the most well-lit field for night-time football, but Saturday’s viewing conditions were spectacular.
JCC owned this game from the get-go, thanks to several factors, including a pretty good wind, a Brazilian kicker and some fine play by the Huskies special teams.
After foreign-exchange student Marcelo Rinaldi booted the opening kickoff through the end zone (backed by the wind), a Windom punt was returned a long ways by Carson Nyborg. Two plays later, Tanner Menke threw to Nyborg for a 10-yard TD.
After Rinaldi’s second kickoff went through the uprights, a bad punt snap and upended punter set up JCC at the Windom 17, and Colton Ward scored on a 9-yard run. Windom’s third possession ended in a sack/caused fumble/recovered fumble by Tyler Schoer. Windom’s Drake Borsgard picked off a pass in the end zone to end the threat, but a 14-yard TD run by Nyborg made it 21-0 before the first quarter ended.
Menke, the Huskies’ sophomore QB, was injured in the second quarter and did not return. But another Tanner – senior Tanner Asa – took over the reins. It was an impressive performance by JCC, which showed a very strong running game out of the wishbone.
OTHER SIGHTS AND sounds from a splendid Saturday …
--The fullback in the Huskies’ wishbone is a load to tackle. Jordan Phibbs is a 5-foot-11, 230-pound senior who – no surprise here – placed third in the Class A state wrestling tournament last year as a heavyweight. Big, strong and scary.
--Best name of the season so far: Boog. No kidding. Boog Steiner is a senior kicker for the Huskies. C’mon Boog, is that your real name?
--We had a great presentation of the colors and national anthem. The guys from the Jackson VFW post marched out to a drum roll and the JCC band played a splendid anthem. And as should always be the case, everyone remained standing and hat-less until the colors had been retired. Wonderful pregame scene.
--Something Else I Learned Today: The JCC school song is the Minnesota Rouser. (That was my high school’s song, too.)
--It’s common at the big schools in the metro to see video cameras sitting atop telescoping poles that lift the cameras high into the sky while a fellow on the ground watches a video screen. In Jackson they used a boom truck – the kind that comes out for electrical work or tree-trimming – to hoist a guy with a camera in his hand. Makes a lot of sense.
--Pregame concession choice: Pork sandwich with pickles and barbecue sauce. Fine football fare.
--The local Pizza Ranch sponsored a cool little deal called the “Sack Attack.” Whenever the Huskies recorded a sack, a name was drawn and the winner received a free buffet lunch at the Pizza Ranch. Where do I sign up?
--As Rinaldi kept booting kickoffs through the end zone, a gaggle of little kids gathered in that area to scramble for the football as it came bounding out of the field of play.
--The halftime show featured the JCC cheerleaders and the school mascot, Hammer the Husky, dancing to MC Hammer’s 1990 classic, “Can’t Touch This.” Very solid entertainment.
To see lots of photos from the game, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 116
*Miles John has driven: 4,540
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