2013 was the last time the Jonesville Comets preparation football team won a football match at Reading High School. The fall sports season 2021 featured several “firsts” for the Comet football program that relate to 2013. 2013 was the last season the Jonesville Comets started their football season with a 5-0 record.
On October 1, Jonesville found itself in a major clash with Reading Rangers 4-1. Both teams entered the contest looking to secure a victory over an opponent ranked in the AP’s top 10. The Jonesville Comets, led by head coach Frank Keller, were ranked as the No.4 team in Division 6. The Rangers, led by head coach Rick Bailey, were ranked No.8 in Division 8. The Rangers would host the Comets, and it was reunion night for Reading High School. Student-athletes Mallory Wheeler and Duke Green have been chosen as the reunion king and queen.
After a one-sided first half, a fourth round trip and a shower of sports drinks; Jonesville would emerge victorious with a 34-8 victory.
As discussed in our Play of the Week preview, Jonesville wanted to make an early statement with his powerful passing attack. The Rangers had to contain the ability of the Comets to attack vertically; a task that would prove to be quite difficult. Junior quarterback Cowen Keller completed two touchdown passes to his favorite receiving target; Principal Curtis Knapp. Keller would strike again, finding Senior Kaden Playford on a 37-yard touchdown reception to give the Comets a 20-0 lead.
A few early saves for Comet’s defense put the Rangers in an early hole to start the game. The quarterback battle between junior quarterback Colton Bassage for the Rangers and Cowen Keller was a key clash in our preview. Cowen Keller had taken the lead in this one-on-one battle, but Colton Bassage would continue to fight with the Rangers in the first half.
The Rangers would rally the troops to start the second quarter. The Rangers found the end zone for the only time that night after junior running back Maverick Messenger took him home on an eight-yard run. With more than 10 minutes to play in the first half, the Comets had the opportunity to extend their lead.
A few key adjustments to the Rangers’ defense held Comet’s passing offense in check for the remainder of the second quarter. An interception that saved Rangers junior defensive back Jacob Hamilton’s touchdown kept the Comets out of the end zone. An explosive run from Cowen Keller, crushing defenders, had set up the Comets with a red zone opportunity. However, they were unable to convert.
This round-trip defensive battle for Comets and Rangers would continue in the second half. Both teams came out of the break with the goal of finding ways to score. However, the third quarter would be a barren wasteland.
The next time either team found the end zone it was in the fourth quarter. Jonesville had created an opportunity on the goal line after methodical practice. Junior quarterback Cowen Keller would hit him from four yards, giving the Comets a 28-8 lead.
A 27-yard touchdown pass from Cowen Keller to Curtis Knapp would seal Comet’s victory with just over a minute to go.
The final score of 34-8 is the fifth victory this season that the Comets have managed to keep their opponent one score or less. The victory was celebrated after the Comet players threw their Gatorade cooler at head coach Frank Keller. The roar from the Jonesville crowd was deafening as the players and the student section celebrated their second straight victory over the Reading Rangers.
Coach Frank Keller spoke about how important winning is to the program, and also what it means to be Big 8 Champions in consecutive seasons.
“It was a great victory for us,” said coach Keller. “It makes us Big 8 champions again. Reading did a great job. We had to make adjustments because they took a lot of games from us. I want our team to enjoy this one and then on Sunday we let’s start over and get ready for Quincy next week. “
The win takes at least a share of the Big 8 championship for the Jonesville Comets. Jonesville can win the Big 8 Championship with a victory over Quincy in Week 7. This game is scheduled to start on October 8. Jonesville now has 37,833 points in the MHSAA playoffs.
The reading drops to 4-2 over the season. The last time Reading lost two regular season games was in 2017. With a total of 25.33 playoff points, Reading is still on the hunt for a Division 8 playoff berth. Head Coach Rick Bailey, the team’s effort on Friday night was an example of the team’s resilience and ability to overcome obstacles. The Rangers weren’t at full capacity to start the game, and starting quarterback Colton Bassage was ruled out of the second half due to injury.
“I am really proud of our efforts,” said coach Bailey. “We collapsed and we didn’t have our starting QB in the second half. It made it difficult for the football to move on them. They’re tough against the run, but I thought we played really well defensively all night and it was a fiery game. “
Reading will try to bounce back in Week 7. They will be on the road against the Springport Spartans on October 8 at 7:00 pm.
Christian Adams had 14 carries for 62 yards. Dominic Aponte had 11 carries for 43 yards. Cowen Keller completed 8-17 passes for 174 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Keller would also have a four-yard touchdown touchdown. Kaden Playford had two catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. Curtis Knapp had three catches for 55 yards and three touchdowns. Braeden Trine had a catch for 20 yards.
Defensively, Garett Domack led the team with seven tackles. Chandler Griffiths and Kaden Playford made six tackles each. Braeden Trine, Christian Adams and Cowen Keller all had five tackles. Brady Wright had an interception.
Colton Bassage completed 7 of 13 passes for 83 yards. Colton Wiler had two catches for 40 yards. Tayshawn Bester had nine carries for 38 yards. Maverick Messenger had a rushed touchdown and a two-point conversion.
Defensively, Joey Campbell led the team with 11 tackles. Colton Wiler made eight tackles. Eathan Westfall and Sam Strine made six tackles each. Jacob Hamilton had an interception. Ethan Westfall, Duke Green and Tayshawn Bester each had a fumble.
Jonesville totaled 282 offensive yards; 177 in the air and 105 on the ground. Reading totaled 201 offensive yards; 83 in the air and 118 on the ground. Both teams had 10 first tries. Reading had 11 penalties. Jonesville received eight penalties.