With just one more win, the Junior Jackets quite possibly will make history for a middle school level program in Grundy County. If they defeat Whitwell Thursday night at John A. Anderson Field, they will be a perfect 8-0 and Sequatchie Valley Conference champions. No one can remember a 7th-8th grade football team in the county going undefeated before.
The Junior Jackets defeated Whitwell 20-0 last Thursday in the final regular season game for both teams. The stands were full in Tracy City as Grundy moved to 7-0 on the season.
The win also gave the locals the home field for the conference championship game this week. Kickoff is at 6:00 p.m.
“I want to thank everyone that came out and supported these young men tonight. The cheers from the stands is the payday that these guys have been working for since June. We’ve been working these guys out since June and through the 7 on 7 games and the scrimmages. Then coming through that valley schedule and knowing firsthand how much work each one of them has put into this team, to come in that locker room and see all those kids from all over the county celebrating together is incredible.
“Seeing kids working hard, sacrificing their time, preparing themselves the right way and getting the payoff is why I coach and I know my assistant coaches feel the same. I hope that we can pack the stands out again this Thursday night when we host the SVC Championship Game. It’s tough beating a team twice in a week, especially when the team is big, fast and physical like Whitwell, but we are going back to work Monday and continue the never ending commitment of perfecting the fundamentals and come in Thursday night ready to wrap this season up on a positive note,” said Coach Casey Tate.
After a first half filled with defense and turnovers, the Junior Jackets got on the scoreboard with just 30 seconds before the break. Braden Sanders caught an 11-yard pass from Ethan Nunley to score. Nunley ran in the two-point conversion and Grundy led 8-0 at the break.
There would be no more scoring until half way through the fourth quarter. Josh Wingo broke loose on a 43-yard touchdown run after a crushing block delivered by Hagen Cash. A two-point run attempt failed but the Junior Jackets were fully in charge at 14-0.
Wingo would add one more score with 2:59 remaining on a 19-yard jaunt. The pass for two failed but at 20-0 it would not matter.
“Well that was a defensive struggle for the most part. I am really proud of how our defense stepped up tonight and held within the red zone on three different occasions. The boys really played their best game of the year and they picked a great time to do it. I really believe the large crowd that was here played a big role in keeping our team so motivated. They really seemed to feed off of the atmosphere and the atmosphere was electric.
“We struggled on offense early on and hats off to Whitwell, they play good defense. They are big strong just as advertised and they don’t give away yards, but as the veer usually does it slowly wears a defense down. It was an eight point game well into the 4th quarter and our option game finally started clicking. I believe that defense comes first in terms of preparation and importance, and my assistants feel the same way, so playing solid defense is something we want our boys to take pride in doing and they rose to the occasion tonight.
“There are going to be games in cold and wet conditions where an option offense is going to struggle and the defense really has to step up and win the game and that’s what happened in this one,” complimented Coach Tate.
Josh Wingo led the offense with 163 yards on 13 carries. Ethan Nunley followed with 36 on 8. Isaac Carreto had 11 on 2, and Hunter Sylvester notched 7 on one.
Ethan Nunley completed 3 of 10 passes for 38 yards and a touchdown. Evan Nunley caught one for 19 and Brayden Sanders caught one 1 for 11 and a TD.
Topping the defense was Grayson Lawson with 8 tackles. Josh Wingo registered 6 tackles. Ethan Nunley made 4 tackles and had an interception. Grant Dees notched 3 tackles and recovered a fumble. Johnie Adkins, Braden Sanders, Chase Meeks and BrandonLe Bennett made 2 tackles each. Jaden Ruehling had one tackle. Evan Nunley also had one tackle and made 2 big interceptions and returned them for a total of 51 yards.
Cameron Elsea had a good night punting with 2 punts for a 35 yard average.
All Grundy fans are encouraged to go out and support the Junior Jackets Thursday night in the Sequatchie Valley Conference championship game. Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m. at John A. Anderson Field in Tracy City. Help cheer the Junior Jackets to an undefeated season!