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The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

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JR Football: Tigers Dissipate in Loss to St. Albans

The Tigers resume their season after a week off at home for Friday night lights against Ballou High School on September 29
SATURDAY NOON KICKOFF: The Tigers take the field just ahead of their week four matchup against St. Albans. (Jaden Jones)

On a blue-skied Saturday afternoon at Horace Fleming III Field, the Jackson-Reed football team saw glimpses of daylight early, but the beaming rays filled with hope faded— in a 40-3 loss to the St. Albans School. 

To open the game, St. Albans marched down the field and scored early on an end zone jump ball to take a 7-0 lead. The Tigers received the ball with a chance to respond, but a promising drive was halted on an interception by senior quarterback Henry Reid.

The Bulldogs, looking to capitalize on the turnover, drove down the field. However, the Tigers’ defense stood strong and forced a turnover on downs, on a 4th and 7 incomplete pass. The Tigers offense hit the field again, but another drive stalled out, which soon became a theme of the afternoon. 

After trading punts, senior Messiah Peddie entered the game at quarterback to execute a designated run-pass option (R.P.O.) package that was implemented pregame. Peddie and the Tigers offense drove down the field with time winding down in the first half, but the drive stalled after a three and out in striking range of the endzone. This led to senior Brody Ryan attempting, and converting a 35-yard field goal, putting the Tigers on the board, 7-3. 

With just seconds left in the first half, St. Albans was looking to get into field goal range. The Bulldogs’ quarterback Miles Upchurch threw a pass across the middle of the field that was tipped and intercepted by junior outside linebacker and running back Aidan Giles. 

The Tigers took a knee and went into the half with momentum on their side. Both teams had difficulty sustaining drives, as the Tigers had the Bulldogs on a leash and limited them to their fewest first half points all season. 

“We had good momentum going into the third quarter,” said junior wide receiver and captain Cole Mandaza. Coming out of halftime and looking for a badly needed score, the Tigers received the ball to start the half. Continuing a quarterback tandem with Reid and Peddie, the two generated an opening spark that kept the St. Albans defense on their heels. But, a crushing blow struck in the third quarter, as St. Albans sent an uncovered free blitzer into the quarterback pocket and strip-sacked Peddie for a turnover fumble. 

TIGERS OFFENSE: The Tigers hit the field for pregame warm-ups, [Pictured: #12 Henry Reid and #4 Hassan Parrish]. (Jaden Jones)

After struggling to produce on their original gameplan, St. Albans turned to a wildcat offense. Primarily running a set of designed run plays, they opened the third quarter with a touchdown, bringing the score to 13-3. The Bulldogs were off the leash the Tigers had kept on them after the turnover that started  the second half. “At halftime we were there, we had all the momentum, making plays, [then] we just fell apart after one [second half] touchdown,” added the junior Giles. 

With each opportunity the Tigers defense created, it came with a turnover or three and out by the Tigers’ offense. Jackson-Reed gifted the Bulldogs 21 points off turnovers. Only 19 out of the 40 points weren’t off the Tiger offense’s three interceptions and two fumbles. As the steam the Tigers created ran out, so did the game clock, resulting in a 40-3 loss. 

“When things fall apart, they fall apart,” said Tigers head coach Minoso Rodgers. “Special teams was our best unit, our defense was on the field too long,” he said. 

“In the second half, [St. Albans] had two drives over eight minutes. We could not get off the field, fatigue kicked in, and our offense was giving the ball right back. It didn’t give us a chance to adjust, and reset,” Rodgers continued. 

Saturday’s game for the Tigers demonstrated two different worlds. The first half, the team played a collective brand of football that they want to make the standard in their ‘statement’ season, by only allowing seven points in 24 minutes. In the second half, the Tigers mirrored their dreadful last two seasons as nothing positive ensued. Simply put, whenever the team took a step forward, three steps back quickly followed.

For the Tigers, it isn’t a talent issue where the team is overmatched, it’s putting all aspects of the game together–blocking, tackling and protecting the football. On Saturday, the Tigers beat themselves against a subpar St. Albans team. 

Whenever looking to win, you can’t shortcut the fundamental side of the game. “[On the defensive side] we’re going to be working on a lot of block shedding, and attacking the football [these next two weeks],” said defensive coordinator Tim Gerald.

The team believes schematically they are in a good place, but making the necessary plays all four quarters has to become a staple of the team down the stretch. 

Working on the basics, such as footwork and taking care of the football is something the Tigers offense will be prioritizing during the week off. Quarterback Henry Reid adds, “We can grow by [truly] limiting turnovers.” Personally noting, “I need to stay confident and trust my reads.” 

Step one for the Tigers, now in their week off, is to “realize that we have to trust one another,” linebacker and long-snapper Aidan Riley  said. Emphasizing the mantra of, “I know you can do your job, and I can mine,” the captain continued. 

With experience gained from four non-league games, the Tigers (1-3) are looking forward to getting back to practice each day in the afternoon. The team will prioritize doing a full-scale teardown and starting fresh, in the hopes of creating the team identity they have been searching for. 

The Tigers return home on Horace Fleming III Field Friday, September 29 at 6:00 p.m. They’ll take on a familiar divisional foe in Frank L. Ballou Senior High School (SE). 

The run towards their Turkey Bowl statement season officially begins in two weeks, as the DCIAA league play for the Tigers starts with the Ballou Knights(2-1). Jackson-Reed will look to win their league opener for the first time since 2019. 

In addition, “it’s always a great feeling to get a win against familiar territory, but we’re going to have to focus on ourselves to see what we could do to put ourselves in position [to do so],” said Rodgers, who won the 2017 DCIAA Turkey Bowl championship as Ballou’s head coach. 

In regards to a win coming off the bye, “we need one, [but] it has to be a full three unit victory for us to excel,” Rodgers concluded.

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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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