Jackson Heights Football at Pleasant Ridge
By Brian Sanders
Jackson Heights High School’s varsity football team extended its winning streak to three games on Friday, Sept. 15 with a 46-14 victory over Northeast Kansas League foe Pleasant Ridge to stay on top of the league in a three-way tie with fellow unbeatens Jefferson County North and McLouth.
“It was a good team win, but with that being said, we as a team have a ton to work on in the coming weeks,” Cobra Head Coach Caleb Wick said of the win. “The defense was the bright spot for us not allowing a touchdown — their touchdowns came on a kick return and an offensive TD against our JV defense.”
Cobra sophomore Drake Mellies again led the team, scoring all but one of the team’s six touchdowns and racking up 243 offensive yards — 122 in the air, 121 on the ground — while junior Kade Holliday also excelled on offense with 93 rushing yards and a TD and sophomore Teagen Bowhay led on defense with five tackles and three assists.
The Cobras will look to extend their winning streak to four this coming Friday with a homecoming game against Riverside of the Big Seven League, a 1-2 team that’s coming off last Friday’s 38-16 loss to Royal Valley.
“This week will be a very tough test for us,” coach Wick said of the upcoming game. “Riverside has a big offensive line and two massive backs.”
Things got going early for the Cobras when the Rams fumbled the opening kickoff return, and Cobra senior Brayden McQueen recovered it in Ram territory, setting up a six-yard touchdown run by Mellies, who also ran in the two-point PAT to put the Cobras up 8-0 less than two minutes into the game. The Rams’ next possession ended with a punt that Mellies returned 45 yards into the end zone, followed by a Mellies PAT pass to Bowhay to give the Cobras a 16-0 lead.
From there, the rest of the first half turned into a battle of the defenses, as the Rams’ second possession ended when the Cobras recovered a Pleasant Ridge fumble in Cobra territory. The Cobras were able to march the ball downfield but the Rams got the ball back on an interception, which they were unable to capitalize on, and Pleasant Ridge punted again, with the ball falling at the Ram 29.
The Rams’ defense stopped Jackson Heights less than 10 yards later and took over at their own 22 on downs, but the possession ended in a three-and-out with a punt that fell into the Cobras’ hands at the Ram 47. Three plays later, however, the Cobra offense was picked off again, but the defense responded with another three-and-out with the ensuing punt landing at the Ram 48.
The Cobras were able to capitalize on the next drive, with Mellies taking a couple of short runs before breaking loose for a 44-yard touchdown dash to give the Cobras a 22-0 lead with about 90 seconds left in the half. The Cobra defense stopped the Rams again on downs and coasted to intermission.
The second half began with the Cobras in control of the clock and the scoreboard, opening the half with a 67-yard march that ended with Holliday taking the ball 21 yards into the end zone and Mellies running in the PAT to extend the Cobra lead to 30-0 with 5:32 left in the third. The Rams answered immediately, with senior Lucas Beying returning the kick-off 75 yards for a touchdown, followed by a PAT that narrowed the Cobra lead to 30-8.
About two minutes later, the Cobras regained a 30-point lead after a 47-yard Holliday dash set up a Mellies short hop into the end zone and a PAT run. The Rams’ next possession also ended in a punt that fell in their own territory, and in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, Mellies ran his fifth touchdown of the night from five yards out, then made a PAT pass to Bowhay to extend the lead to 46-8 and force a running clock.
The running clock didn’t stop the Rams from trying to get another score, and with 8:12 left in the game, Pleasant Ridge senior quarterback Cooper Beying connected with sophomore Camden Thompson for a 50-yard TD pass that put the score at 46-14, which was where it ended after another Ram passing attempt at the end zone was picked off by Cobra freshman Hayden Schultejans as the final play of the game.
Offensively, the Cobras finished with 351 yards — 229 on the ground, 122 in the air — while the Rams picked up 146 yards on offense, including 99 in the air and 47 on the ground. The Cobras were flagged 10 times during the game for 38 yards, while the Rams were penalized five times for 46 yards.
The Rams had a better night in third and fourth-down conversions, making three of four third-down conversions (75 percent) and one of two fourth-down conversions (50 percent), while the Cobras were four-for-10 on third downs (40 percent) and didn’t make any of eight fourth-down conversion attempts.
In addition to Bowhay’s work on defense, senior Weston Schultejans, juniors Josh Smith and Max Watkins and sophomore Anthony Gulotta each had three offensive tackles, with Gulotta and senior J.W. Moore each getting a sack and Smith and Gulotta notching one tackle-for-loss each