Calvin Jackson is healthy again and proving why he's considered one of the top athletes not only in the Chattanooga area, but throughout the state. The Red Bank senior, a Mr. Football semifinalist last year, missed the first two games of the season with an injury but has gotten progressively stronger throughout the season in making his team one of the top contenders in Class 3A.
Last Friday Jackson's versatility was on full display as he finished with 264 total yards — 157 receiving, 107 rushing — and four touchdowns to lead the Lions to a 42-21 win at Loudon. He also played 25 snaps on defense, making two solo tackles, and all that earned Jackson this week's BMW Performance of the Week.
"I was pretty upset having to watch those first couple of games and not being able to play. It was frustrating," said Jackson, who has started at quarterback, receiver and running back during his career, gaining more than 5,200 career yards and scoring 76 touchdowns. "It feels good to be getting back into my groove. I've worked hard all season to get ready.
"I'm glad that I can benefit the team at multiple positions. I like a challenge, and it's tricky for the defense because they never know where I'll line up. Our offense is rolling right now, putting points up, so we're confident and having fun."
The Lions, who earned their second straight Region 3-3A title and finished a regular season undefeated for the first time since 2009, will host Smith County in Friday's playoffs first round.
Without Jackson, Red Bank's offense sputtered and failed to score more than 23 points. But in the seven games since his return the Lions have averaged 48 points and won each by three touchdowns or more.
Since feeling completely healthy over the past five games, the Wofford College commitment has collected more than 900 total yards and 16 TDs.
"Major credit should go to (offensive coordinator) Coach (Drew) Akins for designing an offense that takes advantage of Calvin's skill set," Lions coach Chris Brown said. "His versatility allows us to find mismatches anywhere on the field, and we see teams with at least two guys committed to him on every snap, whether he's lined up at receiver or running back.
"His talent demands that type respect, which just opens so many things up for our other offensive weapons. Having him at full strength is a huge boost. We were very cautious with him at first, but since he has regained his full-speed burst what were 9-10-yard gains are now going for big-play touchdowns."
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.