The Jackson football team took the newly renovated The Pit for the first time infront of fans on Saturday to play in the 45th annual Gatorade Game.
The Indians lost a total of 13 starters to graduation, so there were plenty of new faces taking the field.
One of them was at the quarterback position, where sophomore Cael Welker took the majority of snaps with the first-team offense while junior Jake Smith rotated in as well.
It was offense versus defense in the scrimmage with the offense taking the name “Indians” on the scoreboard as the defense took the title of “Vikings.”
The Indians failed to get on the scoreboard until the second set of 25 plays when Welker was able to find senior wide receiver Jordan Kent for a 23-yard touchdown, who dragged his feet in the back of the endzone for the score.
Welker took the first 18 snaps in the first possession and had to rollout on several occasions due to the defense getting pressure inside and off the edge from the right side of the offensive line.
Although met with such pressure, Welker was able to extend plays and avoid sacks while even running for two first downs.
Bringing most of the pressure from the outside for the Vikings was senior outside linebacker Tristin Koenig, who sacked Smith on his second snap. Pressure was also brought from the inside linebacker position as sophomore Bryce Norman sacked Smith three plays later.
Smith took the field with the first-team offense on the second possession as the Indians picked up two first downs in three plays, the first an 8-yard run by junior Seth Waters and the second on a play-action screen to Kent.
Welker was brought back in for play six, but he was pulled in favor of Smith for one play after overthrowing sophomore Rhett Liley on a fade route.
Junior defensive end Cole Amelunke quickly sacked Smith on the following play, which brought Welker back in to find Kent in the back of the endzone for 6.
Welker broke off a 14-yard run after both teams regrouped to begin play, but he collided with multiple defenders for his helmet to come flying off.
Welker was forced to go to the sideline for Smith to enter the game, who helped lead the Indians into scoring territory.
The one play that put the Indians inside the 20-yard line was when Smith found a wide-open Kent, who was able to break out of three tackles for around a 30-yard play.
Welker was brought back in after Smith hit senior Matt Jaco for an 11-yard gain to the 5-yard line, which ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by Waters.
That was the final score from the offense in “regulation” as the defense took a 25-15 lead, which led head coach Brent Eckley lining up the offense at the 25-yard line for 10 more plays.
On the first play, Welker was able to find junior wide receiver Dalton Skrob in the endzone, which would be the final score for the offense as the Vikings stood their ground the rest of the way.
On play four, Koenig tackled Smith behind the line of scrimmage while senior defensive end Justin Singleton stopped Kent at the line of scrimmage on a jet sweep two plays later.
Amelunke brought down Smith for his second sack of the contest for a 5-yard loss on play eight, which brought Welker back in the game for the final two plays.
Koenig was able to bring down sophomore running back Demichi Herring for a short gain as Welker was able to find an open receiver and ran out of bounds to end the game.
Jackson has one more preseason contest before beginning the regular season Aug. 24 as the team will compete at 6 p.m. this Friday in a jamboree hosted at Seckman.