Jefferson’s “James Gang” could surprise in the NIC-10

High School Football

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)– The last eight seasons Jefferson football teams have won a total of seven games, but there’s no cloud over the J-Hawks right now as they get set to embark on this 2021 season.

The J-Hawks not only lost all four of their games they played last spring. They were outscored 182-34.  It was a very young team that took its lumps.

“We were pretty young with only about six seniors…we treated it like spring football to develop some young guys,” said head coach Jake Arnold.

Arnold isn’t one to dwell on negatives. His motor runs high, so does his hope for what the J-Hawks can do moving forward.

“We’re still a young team which is the great, exciting part because you might see some of our guys where you’ll be like, ‘There’s no way he’s a junior or a sophomore.”
Junior quarterback Nick James looks more like Trevor Lawrence with his legit 6-6 frame and his long hair showing out from his helmet. He has a strong arm too. He can really throw the deep ball.

“Medium and long I’m good. Short needs a little work. I’ve got too much power.”

James started all of the J-Hawks games in the spring. Arnold is high on James’ ability.

“I think Nick, a 6-6 210 pound kid that’s only a junior with a big arm, there’s nothing he can’t handle.”

The bad news for the J-Hawks is they had eight players transfer out to other schools including top running back Almarion Bell. The good news is 13 players who didn’t play football in the spring have come back out this year.

“Our 13 guys really changed the speed of our team, the explosiveness of our team and the power of our team as well.”

Two of those 13 players who weren’t on the team in the spring are Randy Johnson and Tyler Gaines a pair of 6’3 receivers for James to target. Brayden Luellen and Cael Delgado will also see action at receiver. DJ Jefferson and Jeremiah Fritz will be the running backs, and Scott Garrett will line up in the slot while also playing safety.

“Very optimistic,” said Garrett. “We came out here with not a lot of people in the summer, and we got more people, and we just have to stay enthusiastic for what’s to come and what we can do.”

Returning linemen Diallo Dubois and Montell Harris are part of Jefferson’s 1,000 pound club in the weight room. So is linebacker Edjuan Payne.

“Those are our most explosive guys on defense, and they’re our most explosive guys in the weight room,” said Arnold.

Above all expect this from the J-Hawks this year.

“We’re going to play fast,” said Arnold. That’s our goal to play extremely fast.” 

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