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Fall 2023 football recap

JR football moves forward to protect a legacy.
TIGERS+ON+DEFENSE+-+The+Tigers+at+the+line+of+scrimmage+against+the+Roosevelt%0ARuffRiders.+Pictured%3A+%239+junior+Cam+Butler+and+%2366+senior+Chi+Osuchukwu.
Eli Schwartz
TIGERS ON DEFENSE – The Tigers at the line of scrimmage against the Roosevelt RuffRiders. Pictured: #9 junior Cam Butler and #66 senior Chi Osuchukwu.

Back in August, during their hours of training camp, the Jackson-Reed football team huddled together, full of hope. Two and a half months later, that belief has faded. Scars of nine losses marked the Tigers’ 2023 season like tally marks. 

With a 1-9 record overall, the Tigers went 0-6 in DCIAA competition. Everyone involved within the JR football program were left disappointed with missing playoffs for the first time since 2011, especially in a year of heightened expectations. The team, longing to distance themselves from the previous two seasons ended up falling into the same trap. Their lone win came against Paul Public Charter School on September 8. 

“We weren’t really consistent with what we did as individuals and as a team,” said senior linebacker, captain Aidan Riley. “[It] messed us up at crucial moments.”

Sometimes in football, it’s the small things that build up. For the Tigers, the main culprit was self-inflicted; penalties and turnovers proved to be too much.

“[This off-season], the focus should be details,” emphasized offensive coordinator Mark Mullen. “We made too many little mistakes that turned into big problems.” Specifically, 13 interceptions, 45 penalties, over 1,000 yards given up rushing to opposing teams, which led to only 125 total team points through ten games. 

The first order of business: “a team meeting that’s going to include the entire schedule for the winter,” said head coach Minoso Rodgers. “Academic tracking. Four days of weight room if we can. We’ll [target] Saturday morning workouts as well. We’re even going to try and get a 6 am group.”

“We have to do a better job at preparing,” Rodgers added. “We have to make sure this off-season that every [player and coach] knows what’s expected of them.” It’s [truly] up to them to meet the challenge,” as the Tigers will target fixing issues on all sides of the ball this winter.

Coach Rodgers says augmenting the coaching staff is a priority. “I’ve got to get me some coaches that are going to teach the details all year,” said Rodgers. 

Although it’s seemed the Tigers fell short the last three years, the team is hopeful about building their future this winter. Their mantra this offseason is to protect a legacy that once won a city championship in 1991. In addition, their goal for next season is to claw above .500 for the first time since 2018. Coach Rodgers looks to make his seasonal athletes year-round. 

“All skill-groups (wide receivers, running backs, safeties, and defensive backs) will run indoor track,” said Rodgers. “All of our bigs (tight ends, linebackers, offensive and defensive linemen) are wrestling if they aren’t doing another winter sport. Being a cross and multi-sport athlete helps. Some guys are even talking about doing lacrosse in the spring,” he continued. 

This winter, the team will ensure that everyone, both coaches and players, buy into the off-season culture. “I’m [running track] to get faster and to build stamina for the upcoming season,” said junior captain and wide receiver Cole Mandaza. 

Another building block for the Tigers’ future centers on the spring, where they’ll begin fieldwork to prepare for a improved DCIAA Stars league. ”The off-season is a period to allow us to work on our weaknesses. As a team we have to focus on getting faster and better in preparation for next year,” added junior running back and outside linebacker Aidan Giles. 

The Tigers have the pieces to control their own destiny this off-season and a large part of it comes from the returning and rising players. “Among the biggest positives going forward is the energy and work ethic from our younger guys. It will be fun to see the growth from that group,” said Mullen. 

Although they’re down, the Tigers aren’t out of a turn around. With ten months to retool this offseason, the team looks to recapture that once-pervasive hope headed into 2024. “They could be great if they take this off-season seriously and believe in themselves,” said the senior captain Riley.

The off-season work officially starts the Monday after Thanksgiving break for the Tigers. Everyone will have to “commit to the overall success of our program,” concluded Rodgers. 

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About the Contributors
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: Assistant Sports Editor
Eli Schwartz, Assistant Director of Art and Design
  • 2022-23: Senior Photo Editor
  • 2023-24: Assistant Director of Art and Design
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