WHEATON – Justin Jackson and the Glenbard North football team were expected to face their biggest challenges over the final three games of the regular season.
But 1,108 rushing yards and three wins later, the senior running back and his Panthers’ teammates head into the Class 8A playoffs with a full head of steam.
Last Friday, Jackson ran for 354 yards and four touchdowns as Glenbard North capped off an outstanding stretch of football with a 33-13 decision over Wheaton North.
The victory, which came after wins over Naperville Central and Wheaton Warrenville South, gave the visitors their second consecutive outright DuPage Valley Conference title and extended their league winning streak to 15 games.
“It’s really unheard of,” said Jackson, who added a pair of interceptions in the end zone to spoil Falcons’ drives.
“It is such a great feeling because we play such great teams. There are so many great programs in this league. I’m so proud of this team. We’ve got a lot of young guys who have stepped up. Friday was a team win and hopefully we can keep it up.”
The 2013 regular season played out just like last fall, with the Panthers running the table after a Week 1 loss.
“What is similar is the philosophy,” Jackson said, “and the way we do things at Glenbard North. It’s the same coaching staff and the same philosophy. That’s what is similar. The coaches are doing a great job and the players are doing a great job.”
A punishing ground game led by Jackson and a stingy defense continue to be the staples for Glenbard North.
And don’t expect that to change when the Panthers square off against New Trier in the first round of the playoff opener on Saturday.
“We are not going to change,” the running back said. “It’s about how we play, not about other people.”
As for Jackson, onlookers are beginning to run out of words to describe his play. He overcame three first quarter fumbles against Wheaton North to rattle off touchdown runs of 14, 20, 23 and 45 yards, and also had another score called back by a penalty. For the season, he has 2,550 rushing yards and 34 total touchdowns.
“There is not much more I can possibly say about Justin,” Glenbard North coach Ryan Wilkens said. “It’s ridiculous.”