Bucs Offense "Grounded" By The Strong Legs Of Austin Jackson

Senior RB Key Cog For Boyd-Buchanan's Title Hopes

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - by Larry Fleming

(This is the ninth in a series of preseason stories on new high school football coaches, or veteran coaches at a different school, and top players in the Chattanooga area)

Boyd-Buchanan football coach Grant Reynolds has been wrestling with a quarterback situation that had him deciding between three candidates – Cooper Hodge, Ross Wortman and Kohl Henke – for the starting job.

Reynolds didn’t have the same problem at running back.

That’s because he’s got Austin Jackson, a 6-foot, 210-pounder back for an encore performance in his senior year.

“Austin is going to carry his fair share of the (offensive) load,” Reynolds said after a recent rainy practice session at the school. “We expect him to be the guy that can get us the tough yardage on third-and-short or fourth-and-short. He’s developing into a very tough running back.”

Jackson is a key weapon for the Buccaneers, who have yet to lose a District 5-A game over five seasons and take a 15-game league winning streak into another favorite’s role in 2014.

The Bucs’ last league loss was a 20-18 loss to Tyner on Oct. 31, 2008, when both teams were in the old Region 3-AA. Prior to that streak-ending loss against Tyner, the Bucs beat Sequatchie County, Bledsoe County and Marion County, which came back to eliminate the Bucs from the state playoffs with a 7-6 quarterfinal victory.

In 2013, Jackson led the Bucs in rushing with 510 yards on 109 carries with seven touchdowns – he shared the team lead with quarterback Jim Cardwell in that category. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry.

Facing a rugged schedule, Boyd-Buchanan took some shots to the gut, but in the regular-season finale clipped rival Silverdale, 22-21, for the district championship. Jackson showed his versatility by catching a screen pass and turning it into a game-winning touchdown covering 9 yards.

Two weeks later nemesis Marion County ended the Bucs’ season with a 28-7 win to give them a 4-7 record and their first losing season since 2007.

Between 2007 and 2013, Boyd-Buchanan was a combined 51-14 with five straight playoff appearances that included one trip to the title game, two semifinal berths and two berths in the quarterfinals.

In addition to his running prowess, Jackson caught six passes for 54 yards and a 9.0-yard average last season.

So, opposing teams would be ill-advised to prepare for the Bucs believing Jackson is simply an on-the-ground threat.

Still, pounding the opposition with a rib-rocking ground game suits Jackson just fine, and it comes with benefits.

“We’ll have to move the ball by running it down people’s throat,” he said. “But that will open up the passing game.”

Early on the Bucs will probably rely heavily on Jackson’s running ability to give Hodge, a junior, time to gain control of the offense after taking over for Cardwell, who was a four-year starter.

Reynolds gave the starting nod to Hodge well ahead of the Bucs’ jamboree matchup against Sale Creek at Finley Stadium on Friday and season opener at home against Red Bank on Aug. 22. That will be a rematch of the 2013 shootout between the two schools the Bucs won 43-41.

“Cooper has done capable work in our preseason scrimmages,” Reynolds said. “The other two guys will be really good playing other positions and, if needed, they’ll come in (at quarterback) and do good jobs.”

Wortman, a sophomore, will rotate in at cornerback and Henke, a freshman, is the team’s starting safety.

How Hodge performs will be a factor in how much running Jackson will do early in the season.

“We have some things our quarterback can do to alleviate that,” the coach said. “If the quarterback can throw the football it’ll take some pressure off our running game. And, vice versa, if Austin runs the ball well it takes pressure off the passing game.”

If those two pieces of the puzzle work out, the Bucs will be on their way to a possible sixth straight district championship.

A smooth-operating offense also can help Jackson achieve two of his goals for the season.

“I’d like to make all-district and do anything to help my team win,” he said.

Jackson handled an important role playing linebacker in 2013 and is projected to see plenty of time on that side of the ball this season.

However, if he has to be the dominant running back that could limit his time with the defense.

“He’s our sam linebacker right now,” Reynolds said. “We’ve got ways to rest him and if we do rest him it’ll be on defense because we have some capable back-up players for him over there.”

With a light rain still falling when the Bucs wrapped up Monday’s practice, Jackson was asked to assess his overall 2013 performance.

After thinking about it for a few seconds, he said, “Well, nobody’s perfect. I did OK, but I had a lot of mistakes on defense and I’ve got to fix that.”

With Cardwell off to college, Jackson said he feels some pressure leading the offense while Hodges gains a footing in his first starting role.

“I feel I can do anything with God’s help,” he said. “I worked hard (in the offseason) on my sprints to improve my speed and finding the cutbacks. I know they will be depending on me and I’m up to that.”

Thursday: Lookout Valley’s Jaylen Wynn.

(E-mail Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @larryfleming44)

 

 

 


Harrison's Hufstetler Fourth In State Senior Amateur

COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. -- Germantown's Tim Jackson shot 3-under 69 here Tuesday and took the lead in the 46th Tennessee Senior Amateur Championship. Jackson's Danny Green and Clarksville's Greg Guinn are tied for second at 1-under 71 after the first round. Knoxville's Jeff Golliher and Mitch Hufstetler from Harrison are tied for fourth. Chattanooga's Neil Spitalny took the ... (click for more)

Lookouts Fall To Suns Tuesday, 3-2

Aaron Slegers made the start for the Lookouts in this one and pitched into the seventh inning. The damage came on a two-run home run in the third inning to give the Suns the lead, but Slegers would leave the game with it tied at two and two runners on in the seventh.. Zack Jones was summoned and gave up a single to load the bases, but struck out the next two batters to close ... (click for more)

Federal Judge Orders Walker County To Pay Erlanger $8,705,000, Plus Interest; Question Of Attorney Fees And Expenses To Go To Jury

Federal Judge Harold Murphy, in a 63-page ruling handed down Tuesday, ordered Walker County, Ga., to pay the Erlanger Health System $8,705,000, plus interest, on the Hutcheson Hospital debt. Judge Murphy, of Rome, Ga., said the question of attorney fees and expenses owed Erlanger by Walker County should be decided by a jury trial. Walker County and Catoosa County earlier agreed ... (click for more)

Pinkston Says Offer Was Made To Dismiss Lawsuit Against Him If Prosecution Of Detective Burns Was Dropped; Judge Greenholtz "Greatly Bothered" By Any Such Offer

District Attorney Neal Pinkston said at a hearing Tuesday that an offer was made to drop a lawsuit filed against him by Gatlinburg detective Rodney Burns if he would dismiss two perjury counts against Burns. The district attorney said he should not be disqualified from continuing to prosecute the case or else attorneys would begin suing him or the judge to get a new DA or trial ... (click for more)

Problems With The Proposed Apartments In Lookout Valley

I am deeply troubled at the way in which this proposal has been handled. The blatant disregard for the residents of Kelly's Ferry Road and the wishes of the Lookout Valley Area Plan (which was adopted by the city in 2003) by Chip Henderson and Tommy Austin amazes me. Yes, there was a meeting of the Lookout Valley Neighborhood association in August, but it wasn't on its normal ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Ooltewah & The Bullies

During the week of Christmas I got an email from a longtime friend at the Knoxville News-Sentinel that laughingly wondered what kind of basketball do you people play (in Chattanooga?) It included sketchy details of the rape, and subsequent surgery, of an Ooltewah High School basketball player who had been assaulted by his own teammates at a Gatlinburg holiday tournament. Today ... (click for more)