There are two ways last year’s Jackson Bowl was remembered.
The thrilling 43-42 victory for Brownstown Central was memorable. Head coach Reed May said, “Last year’s game and how it finished and so forth, the kids will remember it for the rest of their lives.”
Seymour may remember it, as well, but for the wrong seasons. Owls head coach Tyson Moore called it a game that “you wish would just go away. It was one we had won and then it was taken from us.”
As the two teams get set to meet again this Friday at Bulleit Stadium, Moore said as much as the Owls want to forget about last year’s game, it’s a reminder that no matter how the game is going and if they have a lead, the Braves won’t go down easily.
Friday night’s contest will be the 15th annual Jackson Bowl.
May remembers when he took the Brownstown job in 1993, former Seymour coach Joe Goodman wanted to get Brownstown on the schedule. May was taking over a program that had been struggling, so he was weary of scheduling a 5A school for his 3A Braves.
Instead, the two teams just scrimmaged one another in the preseason in the early to late ’90s.
Then May revitalized Brownstown’s program, and the two teams began playing regularly again starting in 2007. Over the last 14 years, Brownstown currently has an 8-6 advantage head to head over Seymour.
“We’ve been able to do very well against them,” May said.
Brownstown treats this game like a sectional game because it’s more like the competition the Braves will see come postseason.
Brownstown is off to a 5-0 start this season, while Seymour is 1-3, but May doesn’t want anyone to be fooled by the records, pointing out if they played Seymour’s schedule, they could be 1-3, as well.
“This year, they’ve got some great skill athletes,” May said. “They’re a young team, but they are a pretty good team.”
Seymour has played teams who like to run the ball this season, like Columbus East and Bedford North Lawrence, and that’s exactly what the Owls will see this Friday.
Brownstown is a heavy rushing team, powered by its offensive line in the Wing T formation.
“The Wing T, they do it well. It’s an incredibly hard offense to defend,” Moore said. “We have to utilize every minute that we get, whether it’s film or on the field. Our defense has not been good stopping the run, but we’ve got to play very, very disciplined defense.”
Moore also knows they can’t solely focus on the run, either.
“The big thing is they’re going to run, run, run, and they don’t pass very often, but they’re going to wait to set up that big pass play,” he said.
Both coaches are aware at all of the attention this cross-county rivalry game receives, but they both treat it as a regular game and attempt to keep the players focused, as well.
Players from Brownstown have likely played travel baseball or basketball or other sports with players from Seymour, so there’s a lot of familiarity on both sides, which can create more motivation to come out on top.
“As a football coach, your focus is on the game,” May said. “My focus is on the game, getting our kids ready for the game. All of the other stuff is great for the fans and the community and so forth, but I’m focused on the game.”
“It all starts with keeping focus. A lot of people just blow this game up, and it should be, but I try to remind our guys that regardless of the outcome, we still have games left to play after this,” Moore said. “I don’t prepare for this game any differently. I prepare for every game to win.”
Key offensive players to watch for on Friday are Jake Pauley, Kiernan Tiemeyer and Cole Darlage on Brownstown’s side of the ball, led by its senior offensive line that has dominated this season.
For Seymour, Bret Perry’s passing attack has been impressive in his two starts, spreading the ball around to the likes of Jaylan Johnson, Jack Pennington and Dylan Fields.
“Over the last three weeks, to see his arm strength, precision and decision-making get better has been huge for us,” Moore said of Perry.
Defensively, Brownstown is led by senior linebacker Eli Wischmeier, as well as guys like Ethan Fultz and Thad Goecker. Seymour’s Cameron Klakamp had a solid defensive game last week against BNL, and Evan Smith has had a steady season as well.
Gates open at 5:45 p.m. Friday for the game.
“It’s a great rivalry game for the community and fans,” May said.
“Coming in, being an outsider from Jackson County, I didn’t really understand what that meant. To me, it was just some other game, but having been the coach here now and understanding how big it is to the kids and the community, it’s a big game and it means a lot,” Moore said.
Even though this is a game in the middle of the regular season and both coaches stress the importance of blocking out the noise and keeping focus, there’s no denying the big-game atmosphere Jackson County will bring to Bulleit Stadium on Friday night at 7 p.m.