The Kennedy High Eagles are soaring both on the field and in the classroom — all thanks to a new system that has already worked wonders at the junior varsity level.
Now, former JV Coach George Jackson Jr. — who as a young child took an unusual liking to drawing up football plays that could propel offenses into end-zones — has been tapped to lead the varsity team in order to spread that contagious energy. It’s so far led to inspiring moments and lopsided wins.
Both Eagles varsity and JV teams have opened the season with 3-0 records. The varsity team has handily defeated Galt 31-6, Lincoln 40-13 and Drake 55-6. Those are the kind of scores posted last year by the Kennedy High junior varsity program, which finished 10-0 and outscored opponents 386-2.
“Over half of our JV team is now on the varsity,” Coach Jackson said.
Jackson needs to be pushed a bit to name individual players. Like last year, the coach says the Eagles continue to live by their mantra, “We all we got, we all we need.”
“We make sure we walk out there together,” he said. “There are no individuals. We are our best player.”
While keeping the focus on team, the program has worked to keep its players in the classroom.
“Every single day, we’re having study hall and thanks to the staff, the staff is now part of our study hall,” he said. “We don’t just want to win football games. We want our kids in college whether or not they’re playing football. We want those kids to come back to help their community.”
The culture is one that looks at being part of a football team as a practice-ground for life, where one must study, learn, apply and work as a team. Doing homework, for example, is treated much like game preparation: one game at a time, one assignment at a time.
“In this program, we don’t think far ahead,” he said. “We think too far ahead, we lose focus on the task in front of us. Don’t push your homework till the next day, we tell them. Knock it out now.”
And he hopes to impart that every position on the field is similar to a position at a company, where one must combine their skills with the ability to work with others.
“A quarterback is no good without a line protecting him,” Jackson said.
The coach does very much pay attention to the progress of his kids, and there’s a lot to talk about on this team.
There’s junior quarterback Micah Barnes, who came up in the JV system last year and “learned it really well,” Jackson said.
“He’s really taking it on as a varsity quarterback and doing a great job orchestrating,” the coach said.
Darion Ellinson has been running the ball hard. He left the Drake win with three touchdowns.
Ryan Robinson is leading the team with a whopping eight sacks so far.
Jackson also touted Tre’vante Daniels’ “great leadership and on-the-field actions.”
“And my offensive line, too,” the coach said. “Hasn’t missed a day. Big shout out to them.”
True to form, Jackson said he blocks out of his mind any prediction for the remainder of the season. The team’s only focus is on their game at Madison Park Academy on Friday.
“It took a lot of prayer to get us to this level,” said Jackson, a veteran professional drummer who played football for De Anza High. “With our administration and athletic director having faith in us to believe to continue what we started at the JV level, to come on and take over the varsity job, we are thankful for the opportunity. We all we got, we all need.”
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