TORRINGTON – For the second straight week, the Torrington Blazers will face off against one of the state’s best running backs.
This time, it is Jackson junior Jaydon Cox.
Cox has rushed for more than 2,000 yards coming into Friday’s 3A State Semifinal round of the football playoffs.
“They have one of the better backs I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” THS coach Mark Lenhardt said. “He’s 140 pounds, and I like to call him the Barry Sanders of 3A. I mean, he is tough to tackle. He’s a very special player, and he’s going to make some plays.”
The Blazers know coming in they won’t be able to completely shut him down, but they hope to at least limit the number of big plays.
Torrington is no stranger to slowing down opponents running backs, but Cox is like no back the Blazers have seen this season – even Evanston’s Tyus Cornia.
“It’s two totally different players,” Lenhardt said. “Tyus Cornia is a 190-pound kid who will run you over, and (Cox), although he runs very physical, he’s going to juke you and try to shake you.
“I don’t think you are going to be able to completely limit him from doing that, but we have to try to limit the big play,” Lenhardt added.
Jackson is the only team who averages more rushing yards than Torrington per game at 322.9 yards to 282.8.
In addition to the strong running game, Jackson also bring a passing threat which will challenge the Torrington secondary.
“This is a more well-rounded team than we faced last week,” Lenhardt said. “They have a quarterback who can throw it some. They have some good receivers. We are going to have to be on our a-game defensively.”
As a team, the Broncs average 441 yards per game to Torrington’s 418.4 in an up-tempo offense like the Blazers have not seen this season.
“They will run tempo, at like, Oregon speed,” Lenhardt said. “That is something we don’t see a lot. They are going to try to ware our bigs down. We are going to have to come out because it’s going to be a very, very tough ball game.”
Defensively, Jackson runs a 4-4 defense, according to Lenhardt.
“They haven’t shown a lot of blitzing in the four games I’ve watched,” he said. “They will play some cover three and some man. They are very fundamentally sound. It’s going to be one of those situations where our guys are going to have to play very well technique wise to be able to contest them.”
The two teams also come into the semifinal matchup the top two teams in Class 3A on the defensive side of the ball, as well.
Torrington limits teams to an average of 200.1 yards, while Jackson gives up 237.6 yards.
Lenhardt hopes his team can limit the big plays by the visitors and create some of their own on the offensive, but ultimately, the game could be decided by a play on special teams.
“It’s going to have to be one of those games where we are going to have to know our assignments and going to have to be very disciplined,” Lenhardt said.” I wouldn’t be surprised if it comes down to a play of special teams. I think the kicking game is going to be a premium for us.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Wiseman Field.
Torrington senior running back Bryan Lemmon, who already owns the school record for career rushing yards, comes into Friday’s contest only 46 yards shy of breaking Torrington’s 2015 single-season rushing record set by Skyler Miller. Lemmon comes into the game with 1,611 yards and the record sits at 1,657.
Torrington (9-0) and Jackson (8-2) have played four common opponents this season in Lander, Worland, Green River and Evanston. Jackson outscored those four teams by a combined total of 142-80. The Blazers outscored the same opponents by a margin of 148-37.