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First-year East Jackson High School head football Coach Joe Niehaus, far left, expects players, from left, Carson Pelton, Bryce Johnson, Mason Dingee, Austin Tingley, and Cooper Pelton to be key components for the Trojans this season.

By Jeff Steers
JTV Sports

(August 3, 2021 10:52 AM) East Jackson High School football will have a missing ingredient for the 2021 season.

The Trojans are stacked on the offensive and defensive line.

First-year head Coach Joe Niehaus hopes that will equate to wins and earn the Trojans at least five victories.

East Jackson was 1-6 a year ago but has struggled for wins in the past decade. The Trojans have earned eight wins since 2012. 

The team’s last winning season was in 2011 with a 5-4 record. 

Niehaus comes from Grass Lake and says the Trojans have nearly 30 players on the varsity team. 

“We need to get better on every rep,” Niehaus said. “Rome wasn’t built is a day.

“There is no magic button … it takes time. You can’t bring it one day and take a step back the next day.”

Niehaus said the Trojans have solid linemen on both sides starting with Bryce Johnson (OL/DL), Brian Hammer (OL/DL), and Caleb Kerley (OL/DL). 

Johnson had 27 tackles and one sack in four games for EJHS in 2020. Niehaus calls him “the best lineman on both sides of the ball.”

At 6 feet, 4 inches tall and 290 pounds, Hammer is very athletic for his size according to the coach.

Other players who will make the Trojans go this season include Carson Pelton (RB/LB), Cooper Pelton (WR/DB), Landon Roberts (WR/DB), and Austin McKessy (WR/DB).

Niehaus calls McKessy “one of the best pure athletes in the county” and says he is getting looks from college coaches.

New players expected to make an impact are Braedon Desy (WR/DB), Austin Tingley (QB/DB), Caleb Weaver (RB/LB), Mason Dingee (TE/LB), Owen Swetland (OL/DL), and Joe Patrick (kicker). 

Carson Pelton ran for 207 yards for the Trojans a year ago.

“Coach Niehaus will teach us how to win and change the culture,” Pelton said. “Winning would help to get younger kids (come out for the sport) to build the future for East Jackson football.”

The Trojans will open the season against Stockbridge and then Napoleon in Cascades Conference action. Last year EJHS lost by one point to the Pirates. 

“Our players are beginning to realize there is no magic button … it takes time,” Niehaus said. “It is not an overnight fix … the biggest thing we need is consistency.”

East Jackson High 

School 2021 football schedule

Aug. 27 Stockbridge at East Jackson 7 p.m.

Sept. 2 East Jackson at Napoleon 7 p.m. 

Sept. 10 Grass Lake at East Jackson 7 p.m. 

Sept. 17 East Jackson at Manchester 7 p.m. 

Sept 24 East Jackson at Addison 7 p.m. 

Oct. 1 Hanover-Horton at East Jackson 7 p.m.*

Oct. 8 East Jackson at Homer 7 p.m. 

Oct. 15 Michigan Center at East Jackson 7 p.m.

Oct. 22 Big 8/Cascades crossover game (TBD) 7 p.m. 

*East Jackson homecoming night

Coach Joe Niehaus works with coaches and players during a recent home 7-on-7 competition against Grass Lake. Photos by Jeff Steers, JTV Sports.

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