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8-Man II Top 8: Jesse Baxter

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  • 8-Man II Top 8: Jesse Baxter (Photos: Everett Royer,
    8-Man II Top 8: Jesse Baxter (Photos: Everett Royer,

In mid-December Kansas Pregame contacted 8-Man football coaches in an effort to name a first ever Top 8 team of seniors for both divisions of 8-Man football in Kansas. After an overwhelming response from coaches, and once all the votes were tallied, 16 players were selected.

This is the 15th of 16 individual player profiles highlighting the Top 8 selections in each division and released in no particular order.

Jesse Baxter, OL/DL, 6-3, 215, St. Francis, Sr.

St. Francis High School’s Jesse Baxter has a reputation on the football field, a reputation that makes wise opponents tread lightly.

Head coach Nick Fawcett puts it best when explaining how Baxter earned his current nickname, “Rattlesnake”!

“Jesse is a type of player that any coach would love to have on their team, and the type of player that is rare to have,” Fawcett said. “Mean, physical, and downright nasty at times, Jesse wants to impose his will on his opponents and physically dominate them. He earned the nickname of ‘Rattlesnake’ -‘Snake’ for short - from our assistant coach, Hoagie Carmichael, due to his disposition on the football field, which speaks volumes for the type of player he is.”

As a rattlesnake will do when dropped into a hostile environment, Baxter created chaos for unlucky foes. 

Defensively, he recorded 74 total tackles, 34.5 tackles for a loss, 16.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and three blocked punts on special teams. On the offensive side of the ball, he was also a dominant force, dubbed “the best lineman on a team with 3,466 rushing yards” by Fawcett.

When asked about his nickname, Baxter did not mince words.

“I earned that name because one minute I’d be happy and the next ticked-off ready to take someone’s head off. And that’s how I played. I’m not that big of a guy, but I played ticked-off and intense ‘til the final whistle.”

Baxter’s efforts on the field led to considerable postseason recognition. He was named to the first ever Kansas Pregame 8-Man Division II Top 8 and earned first team All-State defensive lineman from the Topeka Capital-Journal and first team All-State on the offensive line in the Wichita Eagle.

“Jesse is one of the best all-around football players that I have ever coached and was the best football player on our team,” Fawcett said. “I believe that Jesse has been the best lineman, on both sides of the ball in 8-man football, for the past two seasons. Undersized from a bodyweight standpoint for a typical offensive lineman, Jesse looks more like a wide receiver/tight end, but he was just so good at football that he was the best lineman, even if he may have been out of position as a left guard for us. Left guard is where our best lineman needs to play in our offense and he has started there since he was just a 15-year-old sophomore for us on (what would become) the winningest team in 8-Man football in that three year span after not even playing football as a freshman.”

After he finishes up high school, Baxter plans to attend welding school in Tulsa, Okla., which is a career dream of his. One can only assume that even without a torch, metal will melt in fear of angering “The Rattlesnake.”