Jackson made a three-hour trip to Riverton on Friday for a 3A state football quarterfinal matchup with the East No. 2 Wolverines where it flexed some Western Wyoming muscle in the first quarter.
And the second. And the third.
The West No. 3 Broncs were nearly untouchable from the opening kickoff to the final horn, solidifying a semifinal berth with a 48-6 victory on a toe-numbing night in the Cowboy State.
The first two Jackson scoring drives went according to precedent, rife with Jeydon Cox chunk carries and a couple of passes in between. When the ball did make it across the goal line, it wasn’t Cox carrying, but sophomore Clancy Meagher.
The do-a-little-bit-of-everything underclassman made the most of his various touches on the night, carrying for 32 yards and two touchdowns, and catching three passes for 32 and a score. Two of his early rushes had the Broncs up 13-0.
Those touches, rare for Meagher throughout the regular season, weren’t on a whim. He was filling in on offense for usual fullback Kirby Castagno, whose role on defense Friday included a handful of timely sacks and frequent rushes that allowed the Wolverines only sparing moments of comfort when on offense.
“Kirby is so valuable to our defense,” Jackson coach David Joyce said. “He puts so much pressure on the quarterback, and I feel like he’s better when he’s a little fresher. And Clancy just needed a little bit of an opportunity out there to show his wheels and his drive.”
Cox carried 33 times for 275 yards and three touchdowns.
Riverton played from behind nearly the entire game, getting only as close to points as two missed 40-plus-yard field goal attempts in the first half. That forced them to look to the air perhaps a bit more frequently than they would have liked.
For each of the long, isolation routes they went to, Jackson seemed to have an answer. Wolverines quarterback Dillon Lange completed just 7 of his 23 attempts for 123 yards and one touchdown, which came late in the fourth quarter.
“I thought we did a really good job putting pressure on them and forcing the earlier throw,” Joyce said, noting the rush work by Castagno and the linebacker unit he’s part of. “When you’re throwing isolation routes, [you want to] get them off their timing.”
The disrupted timing was evident, with ball after ball broken up, and defensive back Peter Goettler inevitably intercepting one of those passes himself late in the second. That gave way to Cox’s second touchdown run of the night and sent Jackson to halftime with a comfortable 27-0 lead.
The third quarter began with a Riverton three-and-out, which gave way to Sadler Smith finding Meagher for a 12-yard touchdown pass, Meagher’s third.
Cox found the end zone three minutes after for a 41-0 lead. Brody Hasenack had the final Jackson score of the night, going 36 yards on the ground midway through the fourth, and the Broncs started having visions of meeting their bitter rival Star Valley in next week’s semifinals.
“We’re coming for Star Valley,” Meagher said. “I feel like we just sent a message that we’re no joke and we’re here for real.”
In the four 3A quarterfinal contests Friday, the West side of the state came away with a clean sweep. The state semifinals will have Star Valley and Jackson playing for a championship berth against the winner of Cody and Powell.