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When you've accomplished all that Justin Jackson has, you've set the bar pretty high.
The Glenbard North senior running back/defensive back wasn't totally thrilled with his team's play in Friday's Class 8A playoff opener against New Trier. Even so, Jackson did manage to rush for 340 yards and 3 touchdowns as Panthers knocked off the visiting Trevians 35-10 to win a ninth straight game and advance to Round 2 of the playoffs.
"It was OK," Jackson said when asked to sum up an evening that saw him score on TD runs of 32, 72 and 62 yards. "We had a lot of three-and-outs, which is not our forte."
Sure, the visiting Trevians (5-5) moved the ball well, but the Panthers forced 5 turnovers, and with Jackson leading the way, rushed for 427 yards and 4 scores. Freshman Vittorio Tricase added 93 yards and a touchdown on 3 carries.
"There were a few positives, but we'll have to do a better job next week," Jackson said, as No. 3 Glenbard North prepares to take on the winner of St. Charles East vs. Stevenson in the second round.
While Jackson continues to pile up huge numbers, he received plenty of help from his teammates. Jackson had 9 carries for 56 yards on the Panthers' opening drive, but it was fullback Dillon Warnecke who capped off the drive with a nice catch in tight coverage and then finished off a 29-yard catch and run for a quick 7-0 lead. Jackson then scored on 33 and 72 runs as the Panthers built a 21-3 lead at the half.
Glenbard North's defense meanwhile, caused a pair of fumbles and picked off Trevians quarterback Matthew McCaffrey three times, including Sam Kriese's first two picks this season.
"We're always solid against the run, but the defensive backs definitely stepped it up this week with their coverage," said Kriese, a senior cornerback. "If we can carry that on during the playoffs we should make it pretty deep."
McCaffrey did his best to keep New Trier in the game, rushing for 65 yards and passing for 190 more, but the Trevians couldn't overcome the five turnovers, an ankle injury to running back Kevin Mulhern, and well, they also struggled to contain Jackson, which does not put them in the minority.
"We knew it was going to be a tall task coming into Glenbard North and trying to get a win," New Trier coach Dan Starkey said. "We fell short against a good team. (Jackson) is a great player. I thought we had a lot of opportunities to tackle him, and just like a lot of teams we couldn't get it done."