“I love playing defense,” Jackson said. “It’s a huge passion for me.”
“That’s fine,” Jackson replied.
A couple hours later, Jackson had gained 104 yards and scored three touchdowns on 18 carries as the Trojans won their fourth straight game, a 40-16 victory over the visiting Lions.
Jackson also led the team with nine tackles – seven of them solo – and he still considers himself a “mediocre” runner. He’s got a little speed, he’s elusive and he’s certainly had enough reps in practice at tailback, so he has that going for him.
“He knows what he’s doing back there,” Andover coach Mike Lee said.
The celebration was bittersweet. In addition to losing Biberstein, the Trojans also had to find substitutes for starting quarterback Cole Gumeringer, running back/defensive lineman Alex Olson and wide receiver/defensive backs Tim Barclay and Jordan Norlin – all injured on Friday.
“It was like a MASH unit out there,” Lee said.
Lee was proud of the way some of his younger players stepped up and performed, particularly Nate Ralston and Brendan Mousley, who filled in at the safety positions. He was thankful for the victory – the Trojans (5-1) assured themselves of their first winning record since 2009, the last season before they moved up from Class 4A to 5A.
However, Lee said the Trojans have a “ton of mistakes” to correct this week in practice. He was upset at his team’s lack of focus and said at least part of the reason was the emotional hangover following last weekend’s huge victory over crosstown rival Andover Central.
Jackson called the victory “ugly.” Miles Starks called it “sloppy.”
“We completely lost our composure,” Lee said. “All we did was make mistakes all night long.”
The most obvious of those were botched long snaps.
“It was one of those things that as the night went on, it got worse and worse and worse as we got more and more rattled,” Lee said.
Goddard (2-4) lost its fourth straight game since winning its first two.
With a little more than 10 minutes remaining in the game Goddard got to within 10, 26-16, after Mason Swann bulled in for a one-yard touchdown run.
But Andover had an answer on the ensuing kickoff. Starks received the kick, started to go left, found an opening and out-ran everyone down the right sideline for a 70-yard touchdown return.
That took a lot of pressure off the Trojans.
“I think so,” Starks said. “Once I saw that hole, I knew I could take it to the end zone. It got the guys pumped up and motivated. We were kind of down up to that point.”
“That was huge,” Lee said. “That’s just a talented kid who makes big plays for us. … I don’t want to sound too negative. Goddard’s got good looking kids, they’re a good team and they played hard. But we didn’t help ourselves, either.”