Friday Night Hero: West Rowan's Desmond Jackson
By Ryan Bisesi
MT. ULLA - Desmond Jackson almost wasn't a part of the West Rowan program this season.
A serious knee injury in a 7-on-7 clash at Mallard Creek, along with a few off the field problems, clouded Jackson's chances of taking the torch from Dinkin Miller.
Doctors told Jackson to put a brace on it and no further damage could be done. Jackson has done a lot of damage himself this year with his best effort coming in Friday's 44-12 win against South Rowan. There were three touchdowns. Jackson had his third 100-yard game of the season to give him 638, right on the heels of East's Calvin Edwards. Of course, the Mustangs are next for West, pitting two of area's top rushers in a key NPC battle.
"I'm very happy to just be back out on the field," said Jackson before Tuesday's practice. "Going out there and executing what we need to do is very fun. I missed it so I figured I'd tough it out and go out there."
West has never lacked for quality running backs in recent years as Jackson is perpetuating that this year. Friday, he reached the end zone twice in the first quarter to help give the Falcons the game's first 44 points. Jackson broke free for a 58-yard score in the third quarter for his longest run of the year. In an offense that's struggled to score points, Jackson has been a positive with six touchdowns.
"Knowing we had just lost to Statesville, we had been preparing hard all week," Jackson said. "The offensive live opened up holes for me."
Unlike last year's start that included a 2-2 record, the Falcons won their first five games beating the likes of Davie County, Salisbury and Mooresville. However, their 32-game win streak in the NPC was snapped in the loss at Statesville. That gave an added air of significance to playing South.
Jackson played a productive six games in 2011 backing up Miller as he gained 356 yards and scored five touchdowns.
Disciplinary issues cost him a chance to enjoy another run to the state 3A title game. Last year, the East game was the last one he played in. This year he figures to stick around. The Falcons (5-1, 1-1) are ranked eighth in the Carolinapreps state poll and could be playing a while again.
"It is a pleasant surprise how productive he's been this season," West coach Scott Young said. "Him overcoming his injuries and other issues have been big for us."
Jackson also plays slot receiver some. He caught a pair of 15-yard passes early on. West quarterback Tyler Stamp connected on 5 of his first 6 passes as the Falcons tried to establish themselves through the air.
"I knew coming into the season the team was going to depend on me somewhat," Jackson said. "It's kind of tradition up here to keep good running backs."
Jackson, 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, is barely second in the county in rushing as he trails Edwards by six yards. When West plays East Friday, it will have critical conference implications. East sits tied with Statesville for first in the NPC standings. Jackson says he may have lost a step or two due to the injury but it was hard for Young to tell against South.
"He looked fast," Young said. "This year, not only does he know what he's supposed to do, he knows what guys around him are supposed to do."