The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

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Jackson-Reed Football Season Preview: A New Era

The Tigers kick off at home against Bishop Ireton on Friday
TIGERS REFLECT: Head coach Minoso Rodgers, and the Tigers after their scrimmage against Alexandria City HS. (Jaden Jones )

When disappointment has rained down on the Jackson-Reed football team, it’s poured.

In the last two seasons, the Tigers posted a combined record of 4-18. In 2022, they allowed 441 total points while scoring just 98. They lost one game, to Archbishop Carroll, by a score of 79-0. The storm on top of the team has never seemed to let up. Now, there’s light on the horizon.

The Tigers enter the 2023 season, which starts on Friday at home against Bishop Ireton High School of Alexandria, VA., with a new attitude, a rebranded culture and a new philosophy. 

The team’s mantra is “Statement Year.” The Tigers want to show that their summer training camp—six days a week from 3 p.m. to around 7:30 p.m.—will bring a new grit, edge and determination to change their losing ways.

“Our team has gotten older,” said junior wide receiver Cole Mandaza, one of the team’s captains. “We have more experience on varsity from last year. We’re actually ready to play against other teams.”

“[We’re] a very hungry and resilient team,” added senior quarterback Henry Reid. “We have, and will continue to work as hard as we can every day so there’s no repeat” of previous losing seasons. And senior defensive and offensive tackle Casey Wood, a fellow team captain, said, “[When you] put it all out there, passion, pride and consistency, our team is better than ever.”

MEDIA DAY: L to R: Captains Cole Mandaza, Casey Wood, and Game one captain Brody Ryan. [Not Pictured: Captain Aidan Riley] (Jaden Jones)

Although the Tigers have experienced the lowest of lows, the team believes it has built a foundation for a winning standard. “We have had a change in culture,” said defensive line coach Archie Hogan. “Kids this season have more of a camaraderie and keen spirit than they did last year. They feel more together.”

To help install the rebranded culture for Tigers football, head coach Minoso Rodgers made significant changes to his staff, bringing in four new coaches. He said that his aim was to target coaches who buy into the team’s values on and off the field.

Rodgers, who enters his third year as the Tigers’ head coach, said the hiring process focused on “how are we getting better by teaching these kids?” One essential trait he was looking for were coaches who can be “teachers, not tellers,” in order to move the program forward. 

“This year we’re focusing on improvement,” said fellow senior quarterback Ward Dieterle. “We have a new offensive coordinator [Mark Mullen], which is really going to push us forward to be better.” 

In addition to Mullen, new coaches include offensive and defensive line assistant Tim Gerald Jr., who is the son of eight-year Tigers defensive coordinator Tim Gerald Sr.; cornerbacks coach Travis Goldring; and linebackers coach Jonathon Morris. They join tight ends/slot receivers coach Adam Lawrence, offensive line coach Johnny Walker and outside receivers coach Deardrey Jenkins. 

Rodgers said the coaches push forward his team philosophy of G.R.I.T.— greatness, resilience, integrity and teamwork. And the players agree. Senior middle linebacker Rian Gogarty said he feels confident in the additions to the staff. “They coach us to our best selves, to make sure we win as many games as possible and reach our full potential,” Gogarty said.  

The Tigers’ offseason work in the weight room, film room and training camp practices translated to a successful scrimmage against Alexandria (Va.) City High School last week—a 21-0 shutout win over the Titans. 

Defensively, Jackson-Reed forced two total interceptions, with one pick-six and two fumble recoveries. On the other side of the ball, they showed off an offensive run game that produced two rushing touchdowns. All three Tiger scores came from seniors, safety Mnason Wilson and running back Hassan Parrish. 

Repeatedly pounding a struggling Alexandria defense, the Tigers showed glimpses of what will be a part of their offense’s scheme. Strengthening their efforts on defense, too, the team left the scrimmage with momentum. 

“Just like anything, you have to be consistent,” Rodgers said. “[We] have to understand the agenda stays the same. Go in prepared, and take the opportunity to get better.” 

The Tigers have won the DCIAA Turkey Bowl championship just once, 27-6 over Anacostia in 1991. Meanwhile, the team hasn’t won the Stars division of DCIAA since 2015, hasn’t won a playoff game since 2016, and hasn’t beat divisional opponents Roosevelt, Dunbar and H.D. Woodson since 2019, ’18, and ’15 respectively. 

This year, however, the Tigers hope to change that, now with age and experience. The goal, Rodgers said, is to win the city championship, and to make a run in states. 

“I want Jackson-Reed to become that team who competes, [and] plays tough football to put us back on the map,” he said. “First we have to make sure these guys know how to be the best them.” 

Morris, the new linebackers coach, is emphasizing Tiger Pride. When the team hits the field for pregame stretch lines, fans will hear the players scream, “Jackson-Reed Tiger, yeah!” The chant was started by Morris back before training camp during the team’s spring workouts.  

Mullen, the offensive coordinator, thinks the chant adds the fuel needed before each game. “It  brings the passion and pride in being a Tiger,” said Mullen. “The players can feel the enthusiasm every time and it brings a spark to the team.”  

The first test in the Tigers’ statement year comes against the Ireton Cardinals on Friday at 6 p.m. on Horace Fleming III Field. 

“We get to come out in front of our home fans, so that’s always good,” said junior running back and outside linebacker Aidan Giles. “We’re going to play fast, physical, and just go out there and win the game in front of everybody.”

TIGERS CAMP: Junior wide receiver Zaire Richardson taking a rep through a team drill during training camp. (Jaden Jones)
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About the Contributors
Justin Glenn
Justin Glenn, Sports Editor
Justin is a sports fanatic.. you’ll most likely see him with a baseball cap of some sort throughout the hallways. If he isn’t writing about high school sports, he’s likely watching a D.C. sports team, NASCAR or some other professional league in his free time. Outside of sports, he enjoys the outdoors and watching Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch, besides that, he’s an average out-going person.
  • 2023-24: Assistant Sports Editor
Jaden Jones, Photo Editor
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