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Justin Jackson sets tone in Panthers' first win

CAROL STREAM - Glenbard North football supporters long ago may have run out of superlatives to describe Justin Jackson.

But that doesn’t mean the Panthers’ senior running back isn’t continuing to amaze.

Despite the opposition loading up to stop him after an all-state junior campaign, Jackson has burst out of the gate in 2013. One week after rushing for 227 yards, the Northwestern recruit compiled 311 yards of total offense and accounted for all five touchdowns in a 35-14 win over Carmel Sept. 6.

A couple of the TDs were highlight-reel worthy, with Jackson running around and through would-be tacklers.

“He does it all,” said Glenbard North coach Ryan Wilkens. “His ability to make people miss really set the tone in the first half. And then at times he looked like [his older brother] Phil out there with the power he has. For a person of his stature, he runs like he is 215 pounds.”

That increased strength is one area Jackson feels he has made an improvement since the end of last season and he credits the Panther’s offseason program. He also points to something else.

“I’m running hard every single play,” the running back said. “Last year, I think I took some plays off. This year, I can’t do that.”

One thing that hasn’t changed is his selflessness. Instead of his own individual accomplishments, Jackson was more excited to talk about the Panthers’ victory, which evened the team’s record at 1-1.

“It was huge, especially going into the DVC,” Jackson said. “It is such a hard conference to play in. We needed a win going in. I’m proud of the guys, just the way we stepped up and the way we came into the game like [Carmel] was the No. 1 team in the state.”

Jackson is also quick to heap praise on the guys in front of him who have paved the way for 400 rushing yards through the first two games.

“The offensive line is doing a great job and my fullbacks [Dillon Warnecke and Logan Yniguez] are doing a great job,” Jackson said. “They are opening up holes and then it’s on me to make plays. All that work in the offseason was for these moments.”

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