Veteran Xzavie Jackson, Titans fighting to bring playoffs to Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids (11-4) can clinch first home playoff game in franchise history with win Saturday at Iowa (4-11)

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CEDAR RAPIDS — There is not a lot left for Xzavie Jackson to accomplish on the football field for the Cedar Rapids Titans.

Already the Indoor Football League’s all-time sacks leader, the defensive lineman also carries the unique distinction of being the only five-year player in the half-decade history of the franchise.

Now, Jackson can help bring Cedar Rapids its first home playoff game.

“It would be a great thing to be a Cedar Rapids Titan and finally bring a home playoff game here,” said Jackson, who can help Cedar Rapids host a postseason game with a win against the Iowa Barnstormers in the regular-season finale Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. “We’ve been to the playoffs here for the last four years, and it would be a blessing to bring it home to Cedar Rapids.”

The IFL expanded its field of playoff participants to three per conference beginning this season. In the United Conference, Cedar Rapids (11-4) would earn the two seed with a win Saturday and host Wichita Falls (10-5) July 9 at the U.S. Cellular Center.

“That’s been the game plan here now for three years,” Cedar Rapids Coach Mark Stoute said. “We’re finally to a point where we have a shot to get it done. It’s pretty simple. Beat Iowa and the game is here.”

Five-time defending league champion Sioux Falls (15-1) would then host the winner in the conference championship game.

In the Intense Conference, Billings (7-8) will host either Nebraska (5-10) or Colorado (4-12) in the playoff opener, while Spokane (12-3) awaits the winner.

“We’ve got a young team,” Jackson said. “To them, it’s helping them see what it’s like to be in the IFL. They’ve been to Sioux Falls, but at the same time to have a playoff game at home, it makes them a lot more comfortable and helps us push forward towards a championship.”

Jackson, 31, thought about hanging up the pads after the 2015 season, but has been his typically dominant self. The former University of Missouri product leads the IFL with 14.5 sacks, which extended his career total to 72.5.

“I’m always locked and loaded,” Jackson said. “I’m very passionate about what I do and I’m not going to slack off.”

As another highly-productive, not to mention healthy, season draws near an end, Jackson has not closed the door on a possible return to the field in 2017.

“I haven’t made up my mind yet,” Jackson said. “It’s a long offseason. Once I finally step back away from it and let my mind breathe for a change, then I’ll figure out what it is. Then my body will probably tell me.”

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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