Quarterfinal Game Friday in Jena
For the second time in four weeks the Caldwell Spartans came to town to take on the Jena Giants. This would be a big game for both teams. Caldwell was looking to pull off a big upset and advance to the quarterfinal round for the first time in school history.
The Giants were looking to advance to the quarterfinal round for the third time in school history. The Giants defeated Caldwell 60-7 back in week nine but you never know what might happen when rivals meet in the playoffs.
Caldwell came in as the #16 seed after defeating #17 Richwood 13-6 in the first round of the playoffs. The Giants earned the #1 seed and had a bye in the first round of the playoffs. The goal of any high school football player is to be practicing the week of Thanksgiving so both teams would leave it all out on the field to extend their season for at least one more week.
The captains for the Giants were seniors Zach Barker, Zerrick Jones, Dylon Davis, and Boots Green. The Giants would win the toss and would defer to the 2nd half. This game would start very similar to the week nine game as the Giants would score early and often.
The Giants defense would force Caldwell to punt on their first three possessions as the Giants defense only gave up 12 yards on the first three Caldwell drives. The Giants would score on all five of their offensive possessions in the first half. They would take their first drive and go 84 yards in 9 plays ending with a Zerrick Jones 2-yard touchdown run. Cameron Koch would add the two-point conversion and the Giants led 8-0.
On their second possession they would use 9 plays again but this time would go 60 yards ending with a Cameron Koch 11-yard touchdown run to give the Giants a 14-0 lead. The Giants would recover the kickoff as senior safety Jacob Pentecost would race down and dive on the ball to give the Giants an extra possession. Zerrick Jones would then score on a 3-yard touchdown run and the Giants would lead 22-0.
The Giants would add a couple of more touchdowns late in the second half as senior quarterback Zach Barker made a beautiful throw to Brayden Oakes for a 20-yard touchdown pass and Zerrick Jones would score on a 74-yard touchdown run to give the Giants a 38-0 lead.
Caldwell did have a great chance of scoring in the first half as they were in the red zone. Quarterback Jon Paul Shaw dropped back to throw a slant route into the end zone and Jena linebacker Jacob Belcher would make an excellent leaping interception to give the ball back to the Giants.
The Giants would take a 38-0 lead into halftime.
The Giants would have the ball to start the second half. Jena running back Zerrick Jones came into the game needing 113 rushing yards to pass Eric Bowens for most rushing yards in a season. In 2008 Eric Bowens rushed for 1,936 yards and 22 touchdowns.
On the second offensive play for the Giants in the 2nd half, Zerrick would have a 33-yard run to break the record. They would announce the record over the speakers and Jones’ night would be done. The Giants would add a couple of more touchdowns in the second half and Caldwell would score a touchdown late to make the final score 46-7.
With the win, the Giants become the third team in school history to make it to the quarterfinal round of the playoffs. Zerrick Jones would finish the game with 12 carries for 142 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns. Zach Barker would complete all 6 of his passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. Zy Hunter would finish with 39 rushing yards and 4 receptions for 35 receiving yards. Dylon Davis finished with 6 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and a sack. Jacob Belcher and Jacob Pentecost would both have interceptions in the game.
With the win, the Giants will now play the #8 Amite Warriors at home this Friday night. This will be the 2nd quarterfinal game played at home for the Giants in school history. The last time the Giants played at home in the quarterfinal round was in 2020 against Lake Charles College Prep.
The Amite Warriors ended the Giants season last year as they defeated the Giants 46-12 in the 2nd round of the playoffs. The Giants will be trying to get their first win in the quarterfinal round in school history so we will need a loud packed house at Guy Campbell Memorial Stadium this Friday night. Kickoff will be at 7:00 pm.
If you can’t make it to the game then you can tune in on 102.7 KJNA to hear all the live action starting at 6:00 with the pregame show. If you are not in the listening area then you can tune in on the MIXLR app by searching for KJNAFM or go online at www.kjnafmjena.mixlr.com.
Photos from the game: