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The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

JR Football: Tigers fall at home in league-opener to Ballou, 43-3

Team looks to rebound on the road against Eastern on Thursday.
TIGERS PREGAME: L to R: Captains #50 Casey Wood, #1 Cole Mandaza, #15 Aidan Riley and #55 Will Howze
(Game Five) (Austin Taylor)

The mistakes piled up again for the Jackson-Reed football team last Friday. The Tigers fell in a 43-3 loss to Ballou on Horace Fleming III Field, their fourth defeat of 30 points or more this season.

The Tigers (1-4 overall, 0-1 in DCIAA) have a chance to rebound from another big loss on Thursday in a road trip to Eastern (3-2, 0-1). Jackson-Reed will look for its ninth straight win against the Ramblers, a streak dating to 2015. 

The Tigers had opportunities against Ballou, but turnovers and self-inflicted mishaps were costly. “We just have to stop making mistakes,” said head coach Minoso Rodgers. “Our defense played well [on Friday], but our offense just didn’t give us enough.” 

PREGAME WARMUPS: Pictured: Safety Mnason Wilson and Donnell “D.D.” Dyson. (Austin Taylor)

In the first quarter, the Tigers punted on their first two offensive series, giving the Knights early opportunities, scoring two touchdowns to take a 14-0 lead.  

Ballou took advantage of every Tigers mistake. The team was a mop that absorbed whatever mess the Tiger offense made. Part of the problem were three turnovers by Jackson-Reed. On one of them, miscommunication between senior quarterback Ward Dieterle and junior wide receiver Cole Mandaza resulted in a Knights interception that was returned for a touchdown and a 20-0 lead.

Down three touchdowns and in a scoring drought, Dieterle and the Tigers offense bounced back with a 45-yard drive. But they had to settle for a 37-yard field goal by senior kicker Brody Ryan. 

Finally on the board and picking up momentum late in the second quarter, the Tigers’ defense forced a turnover. Junior linebacker and tight end A.J. Ward intercepted Ballou’s Kelvin Hewitt, getting the stop Jackson-Reed was in search of just ahead of halftime. 

“I read my keys and saw a wide receiver rolling out to the flats,” said Ward. “I expanded with him, the quarterback started to roll out, I read [him] and broke on the ball.” The play, which prevented another Knights score, “energized the team and fans,” he said. 

As in the Tigers previous game, against St. Albans, the JR defense created opportunities, but the offense didn’t have an answer, putting up just 149 total yards. 

TIGERS OFFENSE: Tigers huddle during a timeout on Friday against Ballou. (Austin Taylor)

Shortly after, the clue to a potential answer for the team diminished. Dieterle threw his second pick-six of the game to end the half, giving the Knights a 28-3 lead, which all but pushed the Tigers out of striking distance headed into halftime. 

“[I’ve got to] let my playmakers make plays, and get them the ball in open space,” said Dieterle who completed 6 for 12 passes for just 43 yards. 

The Tigers wouldn’t see a second half score, as the Knights ended a four-season losing streak to Jackson-Reed. This marked the first win for Ballou against the team since 2018.

“We are not consistent enough,” said offensive coordinator Mark Mullen. “Our goal is to get first downs, but when we give up plays because of silly mistakes we put ourselves in a bind.”  

A part of their troubles were six penalties, but another factor were injuries that depleted the Tigers on Friday. Five players missed the second half of the game, two due to concussion protocol and three with lower-body injuries.  

One bright spot was the Tigers’ running game. Junior Aidan Giles rushed for 70 yards on 10 carries, averaging seven yards per carry. “It felt good to give that spark that the team needed,” he said. 

But Giles, like many of his teammates and coaches, emphasized the need to improve fundamentally in order to win games. 

“To establish the basics [we need to] protect the ball, we’ve had too many turnovers, which shoots us in the foot,” he said. “If we focus on that, [we] automatically have a higher chance of winning.” 

Mullen added, “moving forward we will need to make sure we have the right people in the right spots that can help us move the ball. Guys that are ready to work hard and not get overwhelmed by big moments.”

The Tigers aren’t out of contention, as one win can jumpstart a turnaround. The key to flipping their record starts with their offense. “We’ve got to find a way to get some offense to create more opportunities,” said coach Rodgers.  

The Tigers are ranked fifth out of six DCIAA Stars League teams and sixth in the DCSAA  AA states division.

Kickoff is on Thursday, October 5 at 6 p.m. In hopes of turning around their season, “we have to give 100 percent effort, 100 percent of the time,” said linebacker and long-snapper Aidan Riley, one of the team’s captains. The junior A.J. Ward concludes, “we didn’t execute the way we wanted to. We’re going to get back to work to correct our mistakes.”

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About the Contributor
Justin Glenn, Assistant 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: Assistaant Sports Editor

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