H.D. Woodson linebacker Deonte Jackson has recorded 10 or more tackles in each of the Warriors five games this season, productivity that he attributes to his life away from the field. Just last year, he came to terms with the concept that his play on the field was directly linked to his preparation way from it — so each week, he has studied as much film available on each opponent as possible. Most often, high school football players don’t have the resources and options that those at the next level have. But that doesn’t mean Jackson isn’t trying to emulate his approach to that of a college player.
He’s also tried to test himself as much as possible in the classroom, which includes an AP statistics class this fall. The film study and the challenging math course have both served him well on the football field, he said, giving him a calm and critical thinking ability in stressful situations.
Take a fourth and one call in the first quarter of last month’s game against Glen Mills (Pa.); Jackson noticed on earlier plays a trend, that Glen Mills would run a fullback counter every time a player went in motion. So he called the audible right before the play – and when the wide receiver went in motion, he shot across the line to stop the fullback in the backfield to give the Warriors the ball back.
“It’s definitely from studying, and making sure I’m ready for each game,” Jackson said.
H.D. Woodson (2-3) lost 34-8 in that game, but the nonconference schedule (Woodson played three out-of-state games this fall) has given Jackson and his teammates a newfound confidence headed into the DCIAA slate. The Warriors beat Anacostia 54-6 last week, and Jackson had 12 tackles, including 10 solo stops.
The 5-foot-10, 215-pound Jackson is relentlessly physical (“Just being outside [in Southeast as a kid] playing football all my life, all we knew was how to hit. We didn’t know much about football,” he said), and now, the part of his game that his beginning to develop is his knowledge of the game. It was just as heavy on his mind as getting exposure this summer when he attended camps and combines, including at Penn State, where “they helped me a lot taking the proper drops, and coming downhill.”
Jackson currently holds interest from Toledo, Temple, Old Dominion and Florida Atlantic.
H.D. Woodson will meet Ballou this weekend, a team with maulers up front on the line – and a squad that has a dangerous player on the perimeter in wide receiver Delonte Moore. The Warriors have one of the best cornerbacks in the city in Tennessee-bound D’Andre Payne, and another up-and-coming blue chipper in junior DuWayne Johnson. That kind of help in the secondary, Jackson said, allows him to freelance more at the linebacker position.
“I’m definitely making a lot more plays, because I’ve learned a lot more about the sport of football,” Jackson said. “This offseason that just passed, I spent more time actually being a student of the game. And that’s what is getting me to the ball faster.”
NUMBER CRUNCH: 7
– Riverdale Baptist guard Chinanu Onuaku is set to make is college decision today, and will choose between Georgetown, Louisville and Miami.
– A full slate of Friday night football will be headlined by a Top 10 matchup between No. 5 Stone Bridge and No. 9 Westfield.
– Stonewall Jackson quarterback Greg Stroman, who is committed to Virginia Tech, will return to the lineup Friday night against Freedom-Woodbridge.
– Dunbar offensive lineman Darius Brown is having a breakout year for the Crimson Tide, and may be the most the exciting athlete on a team full of playmakers.
VIDEO OF THE NIGHT
WHAT TO WATCH
Football: No. 5 Stone Bridge at No. 9 Westfield, 7:30 p.m.
Stone Bridge (3-1) has won three consecutive games — scoring at least 33 points in each of those contests — but will face a Westfield (3-1) team that is fresh off a 41-0 rout of Fairfax. This will be the first meeting between these two teams since 2010, when Stone Bridge won 7-3 in the season opener that year.