Jackson Churns Out Tough Ground Yardage For East Hamilton
Senior Tailback Aided By Talented, Large Offensive Line
Thursday, August 16, 2012
- by Larry Fleming
When East Hamilton runs the football, and opponents can bank on that occurring a lot each Friday night, senior tailback Logan Jackson will be doing most of the pigskin-totin’ for the defending District 6-AA champion Hurricanes.
0001pt 0in; ">It’s East Hamilton’s here-he-comes, stop-him-if-you-can mentality and as long as Ted Gatewood is the coach that won't change.
Jackson, a 6-foot, 200-pound senior with the ability to run past or power through defenders, accounted for just over 50 percent of the team’s rushing yardage in 2011. He gained 996 yards – the Hurricanes had 1,824 – and scored eight rushing touchdowns, with a long run of 75 yards, in leading East Hamilton to its first taste of the state playoffs.
East Hamilton’s No. 2 rusher a year ago was Lamond Greer, with 382 yards and two touchdowns.
Including kickoff returns, Jackson paced the Hurricanes with 115.3 yards of all-purpose yards per game despite missing three games and three quarters of another with a high ankle sprain.
“I guess people consider us boring because there is no secret about who’s getting the ball,” Gatewood said. “That’s a challenge to us, but that’s something our kids take pride in.
“We’re going to do what we do and try to do the best we can do it and be effective doing it.”
In going 6-4 overall and beating six of seven district foes, the Hurricanes outgained all their opponents 1,824 yards to 1,546. They averaged 165.8 yards on the ground and Jackson accounted for 96.6 of that total.
How does he do it?
“Well, every time we put the ball in his hands he’s going to run hard,” Gatewood said. “He runs as hard as any kid I’ve ever coached. He’s got great lean and is always going forward.”
In 142 carries, Jackson lost just 38 yards all season.
Jackson’s success is based on one principle of running – trust your offensive line and your own skills.
“I just get to the hole as quick as possible because this year’s line is the best we’ve had, the most athletic for sure,” Jackson said. “They all know exactly what to do on every single play. Then, once I’m past the hole I have to make the right cuts because I don’t want to get past one guy only to run into another guy. My vision has gotten a lot better since my sophomore year.”
Jackson played safety as a freshman and started there the next season. Slowly, Gatewood worked his future workhorse into the backfield and four games into his sophomore year Jackson was the Hurricanes’ starting tailback.
“And over the past two years Logan has grown as a tailback and gotten better and better,” Gatewood said.
Jackson’s development as a runner helped him gain just shy of a combined 2,000 yards, but he wants to dramatically increase that total with a lofty goal to end his prep career.
“I’d like to get at least 2,000 yards rushing,” he said. “I feel like that’s feasible. When I got hurt last year I was averaging about 175 or 180 yards a game, so I believe it’s a realistic goal, especially with the line we have this year.”
The Hurricanes return four offensive linemen – Dennis Fielder (Sr., 6-1, 250), David Hughley (Sr., 5-11, 260), Demetrious Morgan (So., 6-1, 335) and Price McGinnis (Sr., 5-9, 255). Gavin Crow (Jr., 6-4, 275) and Michael Walmarker (Jr., 5-11, 185) are battling for the fifth spot up front.
“Those six guys are really important to what we do offensively,” Gatewood said.
The Hurricanes open the season Friday night, hosting Signal Mountain, which is starting the 2012 campaign with a bad taste in its mouth after having to forfeit away most of last season due to using an ineligible player.
Gatewood is hopeful his Hurricanes can be just as physical as the visiting Eagles.
“We’re an I-back type offense,” he said. “We’ve dabbled with the idea of changing here and there and this and that, but I’m just older and more stubborn. I love what we do. I like to run behind the offensive line, play physical and control the clock.
“Logan is that type runner. He has good vision, has the start and stop you want in a tailback and that’s what makes him so effective. He’s just a football player. People get enamored about certain things about certain athletes, but when you peel back all the layers what you’re looking for is a football player. That’s the most important attribute Logan has.”
Going back to his sophomore season, Jackson has always exemplified the determination to get the starting job and, more importantly, keep it.
“I played as hard as I could and finally got the job,” he said. “And you can’t really be satisfied in football because there always seems to be someone working harder than you. After I became the starter, I came out every single day to keep it.”
At the same time Jackson was working his way into the lineup, he was honing his skills at being one of the team’s leaders. His improvement in both areas has impressed Gatewood.
“He’s a special young man,” he said of Jackson. “The biggest thing is his work ethic. He wants to succeed and he’s driven. Logan does a good job leading. He’s not the vocal rah-rah guy but leads by example. That kind of leader is a highly effective person and just as important as any other kind of leader.”
Jackson has dazzled opponents, thrilled his teammates and impressed Hurricanes fans on a weekly basis for most of two years while breaking big-gainers and bulldozing his way for shorter, although equally important, short-yardage jaunts that sustain drives or ends in the end zone.
What is Jackson’s favorite run?
It was a burst of less than 10 yards.
“We were playing Red Bank,” Jackson said. “I had been hurt and we had five or six minutes to play and were down two touchdowns. They let me run one play and I scored a touchdown from 8 yards out.
“Nobody thought we could win, but that run gave us hope. We wound up winning in the final minute of the game.”
That’s how a star player leads his team.
(Contact Larry Fleming at email@example.com)