Mogadore dominates J-M again
By ERIC FORTUNE
A year ago the Jackson-Milton football team advanced to the playoffs for the first time in team history only to run into the juggernaut that is Mogadore.
To the surprise of many except the Bluejays, they duplicated the feat this season.
Unfortunately, the Bluejays wound up drawing the Wildcats — the defending Division VII state runner-ups — again.
Again, things didn’t go Jackson-Milton’s way in a 55-6 Mogadore victory in a Region 25 quarterfinal.
“Last year was the first year we were here,” Jackson-Milton quarterback Johnathan Voland said. “Everyone at our school expected it. But this year, not even the media, no one expected anything. They expected us to go 3-7. These guys are my brothers. I see them more than my own family. It’s a sad ending, but at least we made it.”
The game started off well enough with the Bluejays (7-4) getting the ball at their own 49 only to see a three-and-out and then a partially blocked punt that set up Mogadore (9-2) at its 34 instead of being pinned deep.
It was start of an avalanche of bad things to come.
“They are the most aggressive team we played this year,” Jackson-Milton receiver Noah Laster said. “They got after it. They had that edge that we couldn’t stop.”
The Wildcats punched it in on their first three possessions to open up a 21-0 advantage after the first quarter.
Mogadore added three more touchdowns in the second quarter that extended the lead to 41-0 at the half.
The Wildcats averaged 7.7 yards per rushing attempt with 163 yards on the ground with Jake Jeter leading the way 82 yards rushing and three touchdowns in the first half.
The Bluejays were limited with just three first downs at the half and -29 yards on the ground.
“They just hit the weight room harder than us per se, because they out muscled us all night from the opening kickoff to the final whistle,” Voland said. “That was the difference.”
At times the Bluejays found some success through the air with Voland, who finished with 113 passing yards.
“Their defense is their strength run-wise,” Jackson-Milton coach Mark Assion said. “I thought we’d be able to throw the ball a little bit better. Their pass rush was tremendous.”
On its final drive of the first half, Jackson-Milton moved the ball from its own 34 to the Wildcat 30 only to see the drive end when Justice Ramirez intercepted a pass at the 2.
The Bluejays ended the shutout when Voland found Taylor Kleinknecht from 20 yards with 3:09 left in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve been on a heck of a rollercoaster ride in my tenure at Jackson-Milton,” Assion said. “A lot of the downs have been significantly up these last two years. We’ve been blessed with two great senior classes that has benefited us.
“It’s allowed us to do some special things. We’re graduating nine that we’re definitely going to miss, but the future looks bright. We can reload. I’m proud of what the program has become.”