Selfless Eagle

Published 9:19 pm Thursday, October 2, 2008

There is no doubt that Marcus Jackson is an explosive tailback for the Goshen Eagles, but it is hard for Jackson to talk about himself. He only wants to praise others when asked about his success on the field.

“I just want to thank the coaches for helping me to learn all the plays,” Jackson said. “They help me out a lot. And my linemen do an outstanding job blocking so that the holes are there. And once I get into that hole I can see where I am going.”

Jackson has compiled 641 yards rushing in the past four games with eight touchdowns, but he said that production did not just happen overnight.

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“I had to work hard over the summer,” Jackson said. “I ran with the sled behind me and came to workouts.”

Goshen head coach Joe Thornton said Jackson has the work ethic to go along with his natural skill.

“Marcus has done a good job this year and he worked hard in the offseason,” Thornton said. “Last year he got some playing experience as a freshman and that was important for him to get that varsity experience as young as he was. He had a good offseason and has put himself in a position in the weight room to be successful on the field.”

Thornton reiterated how important the offensive line is to any running back’s success.

“He (Jackson) knows that without a good offensive line that could be a hard time for a running back,” Thornton said.

The linemen make Jackson’s job easy, but there is a flip side to that equation.

“Blocking for Marcus makes my job easy,” said senior Keyone Woods, Goshen‘s starting left guard. “I know he is going to hit the hole hard and run hard. He makes the job easy for the whole o-line, not just for me. When he gets in the open field, most times he is going to score.”

Starting right guard, junior Whitman Merrit, agrees with Woods.

“It is kind of easy to block for Marcus and I love it,” Merrit said. “I know that if I do my job he will do the rest.”

Junior Heath Swanzy starts at left tackle for the Eagles and he has a simple formula for why it is easy to block for Jackson.

“Ain’t nobody going to catch him,” Swanzy said. “And if we just open the hole for him he is gone.”

Freshman Jonathan Thomas is the Eagles’ starting center and he said having Jackson run behind him has helped him.

“Blocking for Marcus has helped me get better and when you have someone praising you like Marcus does for us that helps us do our jobs better,” Thomas said.

Senior Jon Ginyard at right tackle is the final piece to the five-man puzzle in front of Jackson every game.

Jackson has been playing football since PeeWee, but he has never had to look further than in his own bloodline for motivation. His brother, James Jackson, was the tailback for the Pike County Bulldogs in 2005-06 and Marcus Jackson has wanted to move out of his brother’s shadow since he made the varsity squad at Goshen two years ago.

“I always wanted to be better than my brother, so that really kept me up through the workouts and all the other work,” Jackson said. “He was pretty good, but I am closing in on him.”

James Jackson has two state championship rings to go with his individual accomplishments, but Marcus Jackson said he is going to work hard to reach that promised land of high school football with his teammates at Goshen.

The Eagles took that first step last week as they took down the Bulldogs, 51-26. Jackson rushed for 230 yards and five touchdowns in the game to lead the Eagle attack.

Jackson is the next in a line of good running backs to come through Goshen, according to Thornton.

“Goshen has been fortunate to have some really good running backs come through here,” he said. “When I was here before we had Demon Brundidge (in 2000) who was an all-state tailback and the next year we had Quez Burden as an all-state tailback. And last year we had Marquez Maddox who was an all-state tailback. Marcus has followed in the footsteps of those guys and it has always been a tradition here to have really good running backs.”

Thornton said Jackson plays beyond his years.

“I am real proud of Marcus because he has been real mature for a sophomore,” Thornton said.

No matter how old he is Jackson said his feelings for the game of football have remained the same throughout his life.

“I just love it,” he said.