Spring swing ’21: Jackson looking to take another step forward this year

Jackson football players break the huddle during a spring football practice on May 13.
Jackson football players break the huddle during a spring football practice on May 13. (News4Jax)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.Spring football is in full swing and the News4Jax sports team is making stops at high schools across the area in its annual Spring Swing tour.

Christopher Foy didn’t get a chance for a normal spring practice with the Tigers last year due to the coronavirus wiping out spring sports.

So, the second-year head coach is enjoying his first real spring with his Jackson squad.

“What I found out last year, you really have to be organized, and you really have to you have to use your time,” Foy said. “Now as far the kids, I mean they’re incredible. I mean we have a large senior class this year, so the expectations are really high. We really got to do some things this year, and we should.”

Jackson ready for a full spring under head coach Christopher Foy
Jackson ready for a full spring under head coach Christopher Foy

The expectations continue to increase for the Tigers.

Jackson has posted seasons with four wins in both 2018 and 2020, a remarkable feat considering the program’s struggles since coach Kevin Sullivan left following the 2009 season to build the program at Atlantic Coast.

Under Foy, Jackson jumped out to a 4-2 start last season before stumbling to the finish. But the progress was visible and the excitement easy to see. Receiver Rickie Shaw had 12 touchdown catches. Quarterback Jalen Sonnier completed 68% of his passes for 1,767 yards and 16 TDs.

Rising junior linebacker Grayson Howard, one of Jackson’s biggest recruits since the Sullivan era, had 118 tackles and has already picked up major Power Five offers. Howard said the pandemic season made a lasting imprint on he and Tigers players.

“I learned that don’t take nothing for granted [in 2020],” Howard said. “One minute you’re playing, next minute you can’t. So, just stay together as a team.”

Jackson has already been forced to pull together this spring.

This year, the Tigers dealt with a tragedy as spring practice was starting as assistant coach Donald Rocker Jr. died unexpectedly. Rocker, who played at Sandalwood High and later at Western Kentucky and Garden City Community College, was 26.

“We just bonded together. There was nobody to blame in this situation so the pain and the grief that we’re dealing with is real, and we’re supposed to have to deal with that,” Foy said. “So, it really puts a different perspective on how important the team is, every member.”

Jackson football team faces adversity this spring with loss of assistant coach
Jackson football team faces adversity this spring with loss of assistant coach

Jackson 2021 football schedule

Aug. 27, Westside at Jackson

Sept. 3, Jackson at Providence

Sept. 10, Jackson at Fletcher

Sept. 17, Raines at Jackson

Sept. 24, Jackson at Lee

Oct. 1, Jackson at Fernandina Beach

Oct. 8, Baldwin at Jackson

Oct. 15, Episcopal at Jackson

Oct. 23, OFF

Oct. 29, Jackson at West Nassau

Nov. 5, Jackson at Ribault


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