A lingering fear from a season ago for the Broncs football team was an inability to close out games.
On Friday night at Bear Lake, Idaho, Jackson likely put that worry to rest.
The Broncs held a 21-13 lead at halftime before absolutely exploding in the second half to run away with the win, 50-21.
“Bear Lake got a big play before the half, and I kind of blew up on the guys at halftime because that was unacceptable,” head coach David Joyce said. “In the second half we came out completely different. They responded after halftime; they were not going to lay down at all.”
Scores came from up and down the offensive roster, but Friday night marked a real coming-out party for junior tailback Brody Hasenack. The first-year starter carried 34 times for 275 yards and two touchdowns while also catching three passes for 18 yards.
“That wasn’t the plan, I really thought we’d be able to pass the ball, but they gave us the run,” Joyce said. “We just had to take it, and then it was one of those moments where (Hasenack) started seeing it, seeing the cuts and making the moves.”
The big issue facing Jackson’s offense in the season opener against Teton two weeks ago was the loss of starting wide receiver Nate Keipert. Jackson was without him Friday and will be without him for some time, as his injury against the Timberwolves turned out to be a broken collarbone. Still, Jackson quarterback Sadler Smith found other ways to rack up passing yards. Smith completed 14 of 24 passes for 193 yards with one touchdown and one pick. He ran 15 times for 84 yards and a pair of scores, too.
Sam Scott caught four of those passes for 98 yards and a touchdown, Colter Dawson caught three for 26 yards, and Clancy Meagher caught four for 49 yards as the Broncs steamrolled Bear Lake in the second half.
“Once Brody started running wild, Sadler was picking them apart in the passing game as well,” Joyce said. “It just took us awhile to get going. They had some good scheme stuff early, and that kind of stuffed us, but we weren’t helping ourselves either.”
Though the conference schedule hasn’t yet begun, it’s Jackson and Powell sitting atop the 3A West, both at 2-0. Defending state champion Star Valley has begun the season 0-2 after falling to Preston, Idaho, 34-15 on Friday night.
“They have had to replace a lot of skill guys and a lot of linemen, and when you have a senior class that big and strong you’re going to get hit,” Joyce said. “I know they’ll get better as the year goes on. They’ll get progressively better the more time those kids have in the saddle.”
Jackson will get to see just where the Braves stand on Sept. 25, when the bitter rivals meet at William T. McIntosh Stadium. Before then, though, the Broncs will break in their field for the first time in 2020 when Pocatello (2-0) visits town on Friday night.
“They don’t do anything to hurt themselves; they play sound football,” Joyce said. “And they’ve got some really good athletes. They’re a bigger school than us, a little bit bigger than us, and we’re going to have to play a good football game to beat them.”