Friday night signaled Jackson Central-Merry’s complete return to TSSAA football with its first game since 2015 in the state athletics association.
The result of the Cougars’ game at Liberty might’ve also signaled they’re on their way to being back as a competitive program in rural West Tennessee.
The left Liberty with a 31-0 victory.
“Our goal each week is to go 1-0, and we accomplished that goal this week,” said JCM head coach Erit Turner after the win.
Junior running back Jonas Patterson was the workhorse for the Cougars, rushing for 159 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown in the second quarter that put JCM up 18-0 at halftime.
“It was time for us to step up and make plays, and we did that tonight,” Patterson said. “We practiced hard all summer and all week for this game, and we played hard and got the win.”
Liberty hurt itself with consistent issues in the center-quarterback exchange in which there were another of bad snaps in which quarterback Ethan Schweer had to run back to pick up the ball. By the time he got to it, he had at least one if not two or three Cougar defensive players in his face forcing him out of the pocket.
“We had our chances early on,” said Liberty head coach Scott Akin. “Their first score [a 70-yard punt return by JCM’s Jaylan Young] was one where he touched it high and had to go back to get it and then had space while we were pursuing.
“If we stop that and make a stop, maybe we’re looking at being down 12-0 instead of 18-0 at halftime or we score and change the trajectory.”
Akin confirmed there are depth issues on the offensive line as the two main guys getting reps at center in preseason weren’t available to play on Friday.
Liberty lineman Cedarius Ross went down in the second quarter, and his injury caused a 20-minute delay in the game until an ambulance arrived at Liberty’s stadium to transport him to a local medical facility.
Akin said after the game he hadn’t heard anything definite on him yet, but he was moving his arms and legs before he was placed on a board and taken out.
Both teams will be on the road next week and in Jackson. Liberty travels to North Side, and JCM travels to South Side.
Brandon Shields, email@example.com