published Friday, September 14th, 2012

Hurricanes' Jackson, line fine combo

Bradley Central head football coach Damon Floyd
Bradley Central head football coach Damon Floyd
Photo by Dan Henry.

Logan Jackson didn't know it at the time, but the East Hamilton running back put on a clinic last week at Bradley Central.

"We showed that film to our running backs. Good running backs break tackles, and then once he broke tackles he was awfully hard to catch," Bradley coach Damon Floyd said. "We thought we had him a couple of times and we just couldn't bring him down."

Jackson doesn't know how many yards he has gained or how many touchdowns he has scored, but his 721 yards and his 10.3 per-carry average have him among the area's rushing leaders through four games. Well, actually, for him it's three games because he has not played -- hasn't been needed -- in four of the team's 16 quarters to date.

This isn't a kid with 4.4 40-yard times, but a muscular 6-foot, 200-pounder with what his coach called great vision, power, football speed, determination and a super scent for the goal line.

"There are 40-times fast and then there's football fast," Ted Gatewood said. "Logan is football fast. He has speed, he has the ability to cut and he's a big back. You're not going to bring him down with one arm. He has great vision, he changes directions very well and he runs behind his pads."

Against Central earlier this season on a typical stifling early-season evening, East Hamilton set the game tempo on its first play from scrimmage with one of the Hurricanes offense's favorite calls.

They were coming off a could've, should've but didn't game the previous week, losing to neighborhood rival Ooltewah, which Gatewood later said outplayed his team.

He called 25 trap.

It went for 70 yards and a touchdown, Jackson following guard David Hughley and tackle Fielder Dennis, who had pulled from the right side.

"Hughley pancaked his man, then Fielder pancaked the safety and then [receiver] Tony Francois got a block on his guy," Jackson recalled.

Fielder easily relived that night's first-play success well.

"I get to pull. I saw Hughley had his guy so I bounced it out," the big tackle said. "All I saw was grass and the safety. I got the safety. Logan read it and he was gone."

Celebration followed, and not just by Jackson, who was for a moment alone in the end zone.

"We get as much from a touchdown as Logan," Fielder said. "It's like it's the fruit of your labor -- working hard, making a hole. We look good through Logan.

"He has improved his speed. His quickness is great, but his biggest positive is his vision. He sees and recognizes. He's very football smart."

For Jackson, football is a mutual admiration society.

While Gatewood says his senior is a pure and gifted I-formation back, Jackson is aware that he fits the mold his coach used so well over the years at Ooltewah with notable runners such as Patrick Flanagan, Blake Foster and Dewayne Caldwell.

"A lot of the running backs he's had were great players, but the offensive line was the biggest part of that," Jackson said. "Our guys push people around and they give it their best every play. I just follow the big guys and run to dayligh."

Central coach John Allen praised Jackson's vision and said his work ethic was obvious but also said his own backs would look awfully good behind the Hurricanes' line.

"Don't forget the big boys," the Pounders coach said. "When you have an offensive line like he has, it's pretty nice to run behind."

Gatewood agreed.

"With the exception of one kid, these [linemen] have been together for three years. They've been punched in the mouth and learned the hard way what it means to come off the football with purpose," he said. "They take a lot of pride in yards gained, and they're always asking about that and how many sacks or hurries they've allowed."

Said Bradley's Floyd: "Their offensive line is the biggest we've seen, and they don't just lay on you. They're physical."

Jackson's numbers, of which he is oblivious, are an obvious tribute to the offensive line and his coach's "we're going to run" philosophy, but more than half of his yardage has come after an initial tackle attempt.

"I didn't realize how big he was," Floyd said. "He's stronger this year, and he was strong last year."

Jackson's performance to date, one that has him easily set for another 1,000-yard season, is a simple showcase of East Hamilton philosophy.

Gatewood calls his offense boring, although the Hurricanes are throwing the ball with about the same frequency as his 2001 Ooltewah team that reached the state semifinals.

"We do what we do," he said. "We're going to work hard and we're going to run the football. That starts up front, but [Jackson and the offensive line] complement each other so well."

about Ward Gossett...

Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...

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