Jackson’s Annual Pep Rally More Than Just A Car Bash This Year

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The combination of harsh sounds of rap music blaring out of loud speakers, and metal and fiberglass crinkling with the help of a sledgehammer ricocheted around a parking lot, as blow after blow of the hammer was delivered to a car. 

The rusty Lincoln sat within a lively circle composed of Jackson High School students, coaches and athletes, as well as other members of the community. And while the members of the circle took turns beating on the car with the hammer, the greater meaning behind this year’s annual community car bash came to fruition. 

Little disrupts a tight-knit community like the loss of a beloved figure. Whether it is a community leader or a well-liked neighbor, the sudden absence of that person can surge through the community and make everyone remember just how valuable life can be.

Unfortunately the Jackson community had to go through this during the summer as former team captain Jay Spires lost his life in a tragic car accident. 

Spires was loved in his community for not only being a leader and captain on Jackson's football team but also being an outgoing member within the community.

"Jay was a great kid," his father, Dan, said. "He was just a genuine good kid who loved everyone he met. He'd take the good out of everyone he met and use that as a relationship with them.

"He never found bad in anyone."

The elder Spires is the one who donates the cars for the bash and he knew that this year's event would be in Jay's honor and that made the even more special for him. 

"This town really pulled together in support and they still do," Spires said. "It's just unreal the support that this community has shown me and my family. You never think your kid is that special or made that big of an impact on other people's lives, like he has.

"And for the town to come together and just love on us and my family and his little brother and his stepbrothers and sisters has been unreal. And you think it's going to die down a little bit, but it hasn't."

In fact, the support seems to be growing in strength as the Ironmen devoted their season, and all the success that would come with it, to Jay. And this season is also special because the team went undefeated throughout the regular season, with each game adding more and more to the legacy that Jay left behind.

Dan said that Jay wasn’t the best player on the team but he worked his butt off to make up for areas where other people were better and he always wanted to keep the boys spirits up. And now each of the players carry his memory into their games and leave everything on the field for one of the best leaders the program has ever had.

“He was a true Ironman,” Dan said.

Now that the rivalry game has been played out and the Ironmen are headed to the postseason, the players have even more to play for than the coveted white jackets that accompany an undefeated season. But still, many of the players feel that the Jackson-Gallia Academy game was one that Jay would have been proud to play in.

“We wear 57 on the back of our helmets and every game we play for him,” senior linebacker Reagan Williams said. “He was always a great leader and he was a captain for us, so he’s going to be with us on Friday night.”

Whether Jay was there or not, Jackson put on a show against Gallia, winning 48-14 and earning an unblemished regular season record for the second time in four years. But the car smash the night before the game is what will still be stirring in the Jackson community’s mind.

And when the annual car bash comes around next year, or even a decade after that, the spirit of Jay Spires will always be present in the peoples’ minds and hearts as they bash another car given to them by Jay’s father. And every year the team will not only be celebrating the arrival of another rivalry game, but the also the memory of one of their most beloved captains.