Jackson, Panthers set for 'huge game' vs. WWS

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 12:16 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 12:19 p.m. CDT
Caption
Glenbard North's Justin Jackson, who set a new DuPage Valley Conference single-game rushing record against Naperville Central on Friday, eludes a slew of Glenbard East defenders in the Panthers' win Sept. 27. Steve Bittinger for Shaw Media

NAPERVILLE – So after rushing for 405 yards and breaking his own DVC single-game record, what does Justin Jackson get as a reward?

A date tonight with the Wheaton Warrenville South defense.

Just seven days after shredding Naperville Central for five touchdowns in a 40-34 win, Jackson and his Glenbard North teammates square off against a Tigers' team that sits just one game behind the Panthers in the DuPage Valley Conference standings.

"It's a big rivalry and it's going to be senior night," Jackson said. "It's a huge game with conference championship implications on the line. There is a huge competitiveness between us and also a lot of respect for each other. Both teams want to win in the worst way. It should be a great atmosphere."

The senior is well aware of the challenge that lies ahead against a Tiger team that has yielded just 75 points this season, fewest in the DVC.

"Their defense is really similar to ours," he said. "They are not huge up front, but really quick. They are fundamentally sound and do everything the right way. They are a great defense, but our game plan isn't going to change. It's a challenge, but that is what makes it fun."

Jackson is coming off arguably the most jaw-dropping performance of his career, breaking his own individual game conference record mark by 50 yards.

"With all the history and the great backs in the DVC, it is nice," he said. "It's something I don't dwell on, but it is nice to get things like that. But if we didn't win that game, I can tell you that I would have been very disappointed."

Making the accomplishment even more special was the fact that the Redhawks defense had allowed a combined 14 points in the previous four weeks.

"I have so much respect for their defense," Jackson said. "They are so fundamentally sound and they are well-coached. It goes to show how great a job our O-line did. And our coaches had a great game plan coming in."

Indeed, while Jackson gets the adulation, he is quick to point to the people in front of him who help pave the way. That group includes offensive linemen Connor Hitzel, Eric Graham, Axel Vargas, Dom Heredia and Chris Edwards, fullback Dillon Warnecke and tight end Kevin Kuechler, along with a slew of wide receivers.

"The skill guys, they do a great job," Jackson added. "We might run 10 straight run plays and they are busting their tails. Those are the touchdown blocks, those that are the ones that spring me.

"The offensive line has come so far. We have some young guys up front and I'm really proud of them. And our fullback is doing a great job, he really sets the tone for our team."

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