2014 Jackson-Milton Blue Jays’ Football Preview
2013 Record: 6-4 (4-3), ITCL Lower Tier
Head Coach: Mark Assion, 8th Season (18-52)
Last Trip to Post-Season: Never
School Playoff Record: 0-0
Last League Title: 1981
5-Year Winning Percentage: 26.0%
Aug. 29 – at Southington, 7
Sept. 5 – Newton Falls, 7
Sept. 12 – Windham, 7
Sept. 19 – at Springfield, 7
Sept. 26 – United, 7
Oct. 3 – at Columbiana, 7
Oct. 10 – Crestview, 7
Oct. 17 – at East Palestine, 7
Oct. 24 – at South Range, 7
Oct. 31 – Lisbon, 7
Rushing Yards: Brennen Morrison, 3189
Passing Yards: Jeremy Fitzpatrick, 4240
Receiving Yards: Thomas Gatewood, 2088
Year in Review: The Blue Jays began the 2013 season with a 2-3 mark. Coach Mark Assion’s group ran off four consecutive wins before falling at home to McDonald (48-14) to end their season at 6-4. Most likely a win over the Blue Devils would’ve been enough to propel the Jays to their first ever playoff appearance in school history.
The Miami Heat has (had) their big three (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh). The Dallas Cowboys had their own version (Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin). Jackson-Milton graduated their trio this past Spring. The school’s all-time leading passer Jeremy Fitzpatrick threw for 2,270 yards on 175 of 309 attempts (56.6%) last fall. He connected on 20 touchdowns compared to just 4 interceptions. Thomas Gatewood caught a record 73 balls for 1,212 yards and 15 scores. Finally, Tyler Shaffer rushed for 1,078 yards (5.2 ypc) and 10 TDs.
Minus a core group which got Jackson-Milton over the hump in 2013, this season the schedule gets tougher as they return to play in the Upper Tier. A challenging non-conference schedule should allow the Jays’ coaching staff to get a good barometer of where the team is at. With 18 letter winners back in the fold, 7 on offense and 5 on defense, Jackson-Milton appears to be up for the challenge on paper.
2013 Team Leaders
Points Scored Per Game: 28.9 (21st in Area)
Rushing Offense: 135.5
Passing Offense: 228.5
Points Allowed Per Game: 27.0 (42nd in Area)
3 Things to Watch in North Jackson
Can the Jays’ improve on last season’s success?
Jackson-Milton enjoyed their first winning season since 1997 when Dan Williams’ was the head coach (6-4). Can the Blue Jays improve on the success they saw a year ago? The improvement was evident by looking at a defense which improved by allowing almost 20-points per game (2012: 46.6 to 2013: 27.0). The offense also increased their scoring from 17.2-points in 2012 to 28.9 last year.
Secondary return in large numbers.
The Jays will welcome back a large number of players who played in the secondary a year ago. Alex Thornburg , Nick Goodlin, Adam Smith, and Nate Kramer all return to their defensive back spots. Smith led the team with 3 interceptions. Anthony Italiano and Ryan Morgan are back at linebacker in 2014. However, the team lost their three down linemen in Corley Lamb, Ryan Fife and Matty Skrobut to graduation.
Developing players on offense.
Jackson-Milton returns a couple key cogs on offense who have helped the group in the past as role players. In 2012, Mike Assion completed 12 of 21 passes for 76 yards as a freshman. This past year, he finished second on the team in receiving with 47 receptions and 444 yards and 2 scores. Assion will move to play quarterback to direct the spread this fall. The Blue Jays also welcome back three of their five offensive linemen in 2014 (Brandon Eddinger, Colten Nitzsky, Steven Yuhasz, and Tyler Phillips).
Recent Offensive Leaders
2013: Jeremy Fitzpatrick – 2270
2012: Jeremy Fitzpatrick – 1976
2011: Zach Nagy – 497
2010: Brennen Morrison – 512
2013: Tyler Shaffer – 1078
2012: Tyler Shaffer – 876
2011: Brennen Morrison – 1007
2010: Brennen Morrison – 1008
2013: Thomas Gatewood – 1212
2012: Thomas Gatewood – 876
2011: Brennen Morrison – 117
2010: Cody Vaughn – 144
Fact Finder:: Among area teams, Jackson-Milton enjoyed the second biggest turnaround in terms of wins last season (0 in 2012 to 6 in 2013)…The Jays have dropped three of their last four season openers…Last year, Jackson-Milton won all four of their outings in October. Prior to that streak, they had lost seven straight…The Blue Jays finished with a winning record at home (3-2) and on the road (3-2) last year. Prior to the 2013 season, Milton had lost their previous five match ups at home and ten away from North Jackson.