As Jackson Memorial coaches gathered with their team following their South Jersey Group V semifinal against Cherokee, they had one message: Keep your head up.
Cherokee beat Jackson Memorial 35-14 on Friday to advance to the sectional final.
“Everything they accomplished this year: winning Class A South, winning a state playoff, they should be proud of what they have accomplished this year,” said Walter Krystopik, Jackson Memorial head coach.
“They played hard today and they should hold their head up high.”
The game did not start well for the Jaguars.
The Chief offense opened the scoring when senior quarterback Trevor Osler found senior tight end Jake Powell with a 18-yard touchdown pass to make the score 7-0.
On Jackson’s first possession, the Chiefs defense forced them to go three and out. On fourth down Evan Powell blocked Vinny Celidonio’s punt giving the Chiefs the ball at the Jackson two-yard line.
On the next play from scrimmage, Juan Ibarrondo scored on a two-yard run to give the Chiefs a 14-0 lead with 6:54 to go in the first quarter.
“The blocked punt was tough, it put our defense in a tough position,” Krystopik said. “After that I thought that the kids rallied and didn’t give up the whole game.”
After the bad start, Jackson Memorial did its best to try to rally, said junior linebacker Zack Tetro.
“We got off to a bad start,” Tetro said. “It’s all about finding yourself. We bounced back but we bounced back a little too late.”
The Chiefs increased their lead to 21-0 at the start of the second quarter when Osler scored on a quarterback sneak.
After halftime, it was more of the same for the Chiefs, as Jake Powell picked off quarterback Joe Demaio and returned the interception 40 yards for a touchdown to increase their lead to 28-0.
Cherokee ended its scoring when Marc Woodard scored on a 43-yard run to make the score 35-0.
Jackson finally got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter when Khani Glover scored on a 1-yard run to make the score 35-7.
Despite the loss, there is plenty to build on for the program, Krystopik said.
“We have a large junior class and they can take this with them,” Krystopik said.
“There is a lot to build on for the years to come.”
Tetro said that he will take the memory of the loss with him next year.
“We are going to keep this game in the back of heads until next year,” said Tetro said.
“Its going push us next year.”