The Grundy County Jr. Jackets opened up their 2017 season last Thursday, against Dayton City School. Coaches knew that the young Jackets would be in for a long night. They returned only four players from last year’s team, after sending 22 players to the high school. Another adversity that the Jackets would try to overcome was two starting lineman out with injuries. Dawson Misiolek will not be released to play until next week, and Dalton McDaniel will be a game day decision and limited at the best. The total number of players for the jackets at this time is 23, down from 30-plus the past two years.
Coach Derryl Graham stated that you have cycles, and athletes come and go like this. This year, their depth chart would be very thin.
Young QB Riley Hammond opened up the game against Dayton at the signal call for the Jackets, with Gavin Tate, Turner Cash, and Peyton Huntley at running backs. The offensive line was anchored down with Dillon Merrell at Center, Gavin Clements, Parker Geier, Nick Campbell, Austin Higgins, Clay Parker, and WR Gunner Meeks.
First quarter action saw the Jackets take the opening kickoff and drive down to score with Tate getting the TD and Turner getting the extra point. Dayton to answer with their own TD and extra point.
With both teams struggling on defense, the Jackets would come up with a TD from Tate, and Turner adding the extra point. Once again, with the Jacket defense still down, Dayton made a TD moving the score to 16-16. The Jackets would not let up and fought right back behind RB Gavin Tate with the OL opening up some big running lanes. Jackets hit pay dirt again with Turner Cash from three yards out, an extra point failed.
The Jackets would finally come alive on defense and stop Dayton and force a fumble with Turner Cash recovering. They were unable to mount another drive before the half would end, making the score at half time 22-16 Grundy.
The second half, Grundy kicked to Dayton, who mounted an opening drive to put them ahead for the first time in the game 24-22.
The Jackets dug in a little deeper and saw Turner Cash take the kick-off back to the forty-yard line of Dayton after an unsportsmenlike penalty on Dayton. Once again, Tate led the charge with some great running lanes from the OL, but not before the Jackets QB would go out with a broken collar bone. Backup QB Peyton Huntley stepped in to help cap the drive with Cash and Tate paving the way. This would put Grundy back on top 30-24.
Grundy would force Dayton to punt for the first time in the game. This would back up Grundy on their own 15-yard line to start the drive. Cash would pick up 5 yards, then Tate broke a long one down to the 5-yard line. From there, Cash took over and blasted in on a 2-yard TD. The extra point failed. Grundy was up 36-24.
Grundy’s defense could smell the victory, and the defense line with Merrell, Parker, Geier, McDaniel, and Dylan Meeks dug in and put pressure on the QB with first-year player Lucas Campbell intercepting a pass. Grundy would just run the clock out from here to get their first win of 2017.
Gavin Tate: 302 yards / 23 carries; Turner Cash: 102 all-purpose yards / 14 carries; Peyton Huntley: 20 yards/ 6 carries; Riley Hammon: 15 yards / 6 carries.
Turner Cash 8, Gavin Tate 6, Peyton Huntley 7, Clay Parker 1, Dalton McDaniel 3, Dylan Meeks 1, Dillon Merrell 2, Parker Geier 2, Gunner Meeks 2, Gavin Clements 2.
After the game, the coaches discussed how the young Jackets had stepped up to the challenge. Coach Graham stated that he was very proud of the effort that the whole team had given. Our four returning eight graders, Tate, Cash, Meeks, and McDaniel help set the tone. Other players on the team seeing action were Matt Borne, Logan Isbell, Alex Cranfield, Bradley Painter Austin Higgins, and Daniel James.
“The depth with these young players contributed to this victory. The depth factor from these young players down the road will play a big role this season,” stated Graham.