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J’ville ‘feeds the hot hand,’ blanks Mount Ida

by Bryan Rice | September 9, 2023 at 5:10 a.m.
Jessieville's Tayt Mounts (11) attempts to break a tackle against Mount Ida Friday at Phillips Field. - Photo by Krishnan Collins of The Sentinel-Record

JESSIEVILLE -- No one would be surprised to hear there were 47 points scored between Mount Ida and Jessieville Friday, but they would be surprised to hear Jessieville scored all 47 of those points in a signature win.

The Mount Ida Lions (0-2) out of the Class 2A-3 conference came to town and tried to upset Jessieville (1-1), but the larger 3A-4 classification school prevailed.

These two teams' offenses could not be any more different. Head coach Mike White ran a triple option for Mount Ida and Jessieville ran a balanced Spread attack.

"Game plan coming in was to stay balanced," Jessieville head coach T.J. Burk said. "We had a little bit of the run game clicking, so feed the hot hand and (No.) 4 led us the way. Feed the hot hand and let's go."

It was all senior running back Sawyer Castleberry putting the team on his shoulders. He ended his night with 142 yards rushing, 37 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

"He is a little fireplug," Burk said. "He is not the biggest guy in the world, but he plays with all the heart he has got. He is a special kid. We love him to death. He put his heart out there tonight, like he does every other night. He had a big game for us."

Castleberry scampered for the 3-yard touchdown after a 27-yard pickup by junior Dalton Ellison on the first play of the drive. Jessieville took an early 7-0 lead with 7:47 left to play in the first quarter.

Mount Ida hammered the ball down to the 4-yard line of Jessieville but turned the ball over on downs.

Jessieville traveled 96 yards for the touchdown on some brilliant running by Castleberry. Castleberry gouged Mount Ida for gains of 10, 20 and 37 yards.

Burk said he was proud of the effort of his Lions team.

"We did not have a whole lot of mistakes," Burk said. "There were a few mental errors on penalties but other than that we protected the football, moved it down the field and then we played assignment football on defense. I am proud of the mistakes that were fixed."

Mount Ida turned the ball over six times in the contest.

White talked about what his team can do to improve.

"We had 12 turnovers in the first two games," White said. "I know we are young. We are starting 10 sophomores. We can start there."

Jessieville would attempt and recover an onside kick late in the second quarter. Jessieville was trying to put the game out of reach from Mont Ida.

Ellison bobbled the snap but scrambled for an 18-yard touchdown just before the end of the first half. Jessieville's lead was 28-0.

Mount Ida fumbled the snap at their own 21-yard line and Jessieville recovered.

Jessieville would make them pay for their mistake. Castleberry ran into the endzone untouched for another hometown Lion touchdown. The score was 34-0 with 18 seconds left in the first half.

"When you play defense the whole game," White said, "bad things are going to happen."

Burk showed a lot of respect to the Mount Ida program.

"Mike is a great coach," Burk said. "He is a legend, a lot of respect for him, the program and what they do. It is special anytime you can win, especially on our home field. This is the first win on our new field with the new turf. A lot of respect for their program and they are a good football team. They will be in the right spot when playoff time comes around."

The halftime score was 34-0. Turnovers plagued Mount Ida on the gridiron.

On the first play of the third quarter, Castleberry took the ball 70 yards to the house for Jessieville. Jessieville went up 40-0 and the mercy rule went into effect.

In Arkansas high school football and with a 35-point deficit in the second half, the opposing coach can agree to run the clock.

Even when the subs came in, Jessieville controlled the game, holding Mount Ida off the scoreboard in the second half.

Burk discussed how this big win impacts his program.

"It is a step in the right direction," Burk said. "We had a lot of mistakes in Week One that we really needed to fix coming in. I thought we started a little bit flat, then we picked it up and played a lot better down the stretch."

Mount Ida would mount a drive to the 1-yard line. However, it would not be the result they wanted. Jessieville forced a fumble and returned the ball to the 7-yard line and eventually scored yet again.

The triple option for Mount Ida proved ineffective against Jessieville's 4-4-stack defense. Jessieville held Mount Ida to 123 yards of total offense in the game.

"Next week, we have Lavaca," White said. "They are another great 3A team, probably a playoff contender in that conference. We just have to grow up. That is No. 1."

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