All that could slow Jackson’s football team Friday night was the weather, and even that was much less a speed bump and more a pebble along the road to a stellar 47-0 homecoming victory over Green River.
The Broncs were balanced and smooth on offense, with running back Jeydon Cox carrying for 181 yards and quarterback Sadler hitting 9 of 11 passes for 200 yards and three pretty touchdowns.
And on defense, the Broncs continue to be fierce and unrelenting, anchored by linebackers AJ McCool and Colter Dawson who swarmed the ball feverishly to spell doom for the Wolves’ offense from the onset.
The victory was a call to confidence for the Broncs, who will need to keep that conviction when they take on the defending state champions away from home this Friday night.
And perfect timing for the matchup, with their pummeling of Green River setting the plate for this week’s tilt.
“We were trying to make a statement out here,” Smith said afterward. “We want Star Valley to know we’re coming for them next week.”
Though Star Valley (6-0, 2-0) hasn’t lost to a Jackson team since 2015 and most recently leaped over Jackson 32-14 in their meeting last year, it seems the Braves do indeed know that the Broncs are coming for them.
“I think honestly they should be pretty confident coming off that win,” Star Valley coach McKay Young said Monday. “That’s the only common opponent we have, and I wouldn’t blame Jackson for being really confident.”
When the Wolves and Braves met two weeks ago, Star Valley took the win 22-0. Final scores against common opponents surely don’t predict the outcome of future games, but it doesn’t hurt in stoking the fire for their meeting this time around.
“I think both communities always get up for this game,” Young said. “Wyoming is a state where it’s hard to really have rivalries because everyone is always so spread out. So even though we’re an hour apart, I know it’s a game both communities care about for sure.”
Jackson coach David Joyce is quick to heap praise on Star Valley’s roster, top to bottom. But he’ll also point out that last year some matchups were clearly in the favor of the Braves on size alone.
This time he sees two evenly matched squads lining up across from each other.
“The thing is they’ve got good playmakers, but I feel like where they have playmakers we have playmakers as well,” he said. “It will be two evenly matched teams, a playoff-caliber game however you look at it.”
The Braves bring a balanced attack, though they’re headed by a capable and mature quarterback in Brant Nelson, who is comfortable hitting the deep ball when needed and plugging away with meticulous drives when that’s called for, too.
“We’ve thrown the ball more this year than maybe we have the last three or four years, but I think it’s just a matter of showing up and seeing what their game plan is,” Young said.
“What they’re committed to taking away, and seeing how we need to adjust from there.”
Jackson’s offense goes as running back Jeydon Cox goes, and for three years now the Broncs ball carrier has proved all he does is go.
Even with the lopsided score in their meeting a year ago, Cox ran the ball for 202 yards. It was turnovers that cast the end for Jackson, which was picked off four times in that loss.
“I think Jeydon’s resume speaks for itself,” Young said. “Nobody stops Jeydon Cox. You hear people say the cliche, ‘You can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him.’ He’s that kind of player. He’s going to get his, because nobody has proven otherwise.”
After Star Valley, the only team from the west ahead of Jackson right now is Cody, which knocked off the Broncs 19-15 two weeks ago.
Taking one from the Braves this week will go a long way for parity between the three teams at the top, but it certainly won’t settle the score for the season. As the playoffs shake out, it’s a sure bet Jackson will have to take on either Cody or Star Valley a second time if it hopes to keep the season afloat come late November.
“At some point, you’ve got to think you’re going to see somebody from the west multiple times,” Joyce said, “if you are going to win the whole thing.”