Naperville Central's Jackson enjoys the action
We've seen the future of Naperville Central football, and his name is Samuel Jackson.
The diminutive sophomore, whose natural position is quarterback, is making a name for himself at wide receiver for the Redhawks, who disposed of Metea Valley 56-13 Friday night for their third straight victory.
Jackson had 4 catches for 94 yards, all for touchdowns. He also averaged 23.5 yards a catch.
Not a bad evening, and he even left senior quarterback Payton Thorne impressed. That might be hard to do, considering Thorne himself was a perfect 7-for-7 passing for 240 yards and 5 touchdowns.
"He's a stud," Thorne said plainly. "People haven't gotten to see the true athlete he is yet, and he's getting better and better every week playing receiver. It was a great confidence builder."
Confidence is something that Jackson seems to have in abundance, along with an easy smile that he flashed postgame among his teammates.
"It was really just the play calling," Jackson said. "I thank the line for the blocking, the time they gave (Thorne). He gave me the ball and I made a play."
Indeed. The Redhawks (3-2, 1-0) were already up 7-0 when Thorne found Jackson in the left corner of the end zone for a 41-yard touchdown with 6:25 left in the first quarter.
But Jackson did much of his damage with less than a minute to go in the period. With 53.5 left Thorne hit him up the middle for a 26-yard scoring play. Metea Valley fumbled the ball away on its ensuing possession, and with 16.7 seconds left, it was Jackson again in the flat, turning a short pass play into a 24-yard touchdown.
"He's a special athlete," Naperville Central coach Mike Stine said of Jackson. "He's learning the receiver position. He's a special talent."
Not to be outdone, senior running back Danny Hughes contributed 96 yards rushing on 13 carries and 3 touchdowns, and he even hauled in a 58-yard scoring strike from Thorne early in the third quarter that put the Redhawks up 42-0.
It was that kind of night for Metea Valley (0-5, 0-1), which was eliminated from playoff contention. The lone bright spot was junior running back C.J. Wilcox, who rushed 16 times for 89 yards and scored twice.
But the Mustangs wound up with just 88 total yards on the evening. Senior quarterback Max Reeves got sacked four times.
"We have to try to get better every day," Wilcox said. "Adversity, we just have to keep running until we can't run any more."