Cape Central and Jackson set for next clash in decades-long rivalry

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KBSI) – With one program in Jackson that has reached three consecutive final fours, and another in Cape Central on the rise, the stage is set for a clash between rivals separated by just 10 miles.

“Jackson’s a great program. They’ve done a great job with their kids,” Cape Central head coach Kent Gibbs said. “They work hard, they put in the time, and one of these days we’re going to be in that position where people are saying, ‘Hey, they’ve had five or six winning seasons and they’re kind of the team to beat.’ That’s what we want to try and do.” 

Both teams have split their first four games, with Jackson having won two straight after losses to strong Edwardsville and Francis Howell teams.

The Tigers have alternated wins and losses with those victories coming over St. Charles and Poplar Bluff.   

Tigers sophomore Zai’Aire Thomas said Friday’s game will be a good measuring stick for the team. 

“Just the way Jackson has always been, they’ve always been good,” he said. “I feel like we haven’t seen where we are, and that’s going to take time, but I feel like this will be one of our best challenges.” 

As is the case with just about anything in football, consistency is key, and Jackson head coach Brent Eckley said that is no different when it comes to how his team prepares for any game, even a rivalry game such as this one. 

“We try to keep preparation as similar week-to-week as we can,” he said. “We’re trying to keep the kids from being high and low. We feel like they’re already going to be high with it being close proximity with our opponent. They’ll already be up so we don’t have to bump them up any more than that.” 

Cape Central cornerback Manny Kinder said the Tigers can’t afford to be intimidated by the big stage. 

“We can’t play scared. They’re obviously a big team and they have a good program, but Coach Gibbs has taught us all the things we need to know and all the coaches have taught us what we need to know,” he said. “It’s just a matter of us handling our business and punching them in the mouth before they punch us.” 

Jackson won last year’s game, 48-0.

Kickoff is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m. at Tiger Stadium at Cape Central High School.

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