2019 Jackson Heights Cobras Sub-State Football Runner-UP
Caleb Wick recognizes that 2019 was “a special year” for the Jackson Heights High School Cobra varsity football team, which, under his leadership, made it into the state football semifinals for the first time in more than 35 years.
That doesn’t do much to alleviate the pain that Coach Wick and the Cobras felt after their season-ending 44-6 loss to Centralia last Friday, however.
“Nothing’s going to take the sting out of that loss,” Wick said. “But after a couple of weeks, I think everybody will sit down and reflect on the season and see that it was special — something that has not been done here in a long time. The sting will last for a while, though, just knowing we were so close to our goal.”
That goal involved ending a 36-year gap between appearances at the state championship level, the last one happening in 1983 when the Cobras suffered a 23-6 loss to Stanton County in the Class 2A final. The Cobras have yet to win a state championship title.
But as Wick noted, the team could have done more to achieve that goal.
“From a coach’s standpoint, it wasn’t about being upset with the kids’ effort,” he said. “It was upsetting because we were lining up incorrectly and not blocking the way we talked about blocking the entire week before the game. That was the most disappointing aspect of the game.”
Centralia took advantage of what Wick referred to as the Cobras’ “mental mistakes,” particularly in the second half of the game, when the Panthers scored more than double the points they racked up in the first half and put the game well out of reach.
“It wasn’t anything Centralia was doing that got us off our game or anything,” he said. “It was our mental mistakes and not playing to technique that really hurt us.”
It was also a disappointing end to the high school football careers of a handful of seniors, notably Cooper Williams, whose 140 yards of rushing — including scoring the Cobras’ only touchdown on the night — put him well ahead of 1,500 yards rushing total for the second straight year.
Other seniors bringing their high school football days to a close included Cable Wareham, Carson Williams, Joel Kennedy and Riley Watkins.
Despite the loss at Centralia, which left the Cobras with an overall 9-3 record and in a tie for second place with Jefferson County North, both at 3-1 in the Northeast Kansas League, there are many good things to remember about the 2019 season, particularly the previous week’s 42-10 sectional round win over St. Mary’s-Colgan of Pittsburg.
“We are going to lose an unbelievable senior class that has won a lot of games while wearing Jackson Heights jerseys,” Wick said. “We haven’t looked at next year yet. We’re still focusing on the success of this year, and we want to remember the seniors the right way.”