By BRYAN URBACH
Before this past season began, Cayuga's Keshawn Jackson wasn’t even a running back. Now, he has been named to the first team All-State team.
Jackson finished the season with 1,878 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns, with Cayuga coach Russell Holden stating that Jackson was someone he could count on all season long when the Wildcats got into a jam.
“Keshawn was a huge impact on the team this year,” Holden said. “Every time he touched the ball there was an opportunity for him to score a touchdown.
“He's got incredible quickness and we feel like this offense really fits him well,” the coach continued. “We have some big offensive linemen who can clear the holes for him and he sees those little creases and he can accelerate through there.
“Running this offense really suits him and can show what he can really do.”
This season was not only a fresh start for Jackson, but for Holden, who is in his first year as the team's head coach.
While many people seemed to think that the 2013 season would be a rebuilding year, the Wildcats defied expectations by finishing the season with an astounding 8-1 record.
“We switched offenses; we switched defenses,” Holden said. “I didn't even know a lot of the kids who were going to be playing, including Keshawn.
“I wasn't sure he was going to play this year,” he added. “When he decided to come out, we switched him to running back immediately because of the offense we were going to be running this year.
“It's been a huge blessing to us to be able to run him out there when he's averaging close to 10 yards per carry. It makes our team look good when he can use his talent like that.”
Being a junior at CHS, Jackson has the chance to come back next year as a senior and continue his success on the field.
“He knows that he has to keep working hard and getting stronger during the offseason,” Holden said. “We caught people off guard this year with us running the ball as much as we did, and I think people are going to be preparing for us in terms of our running game next year.
“We just have to make sure we keep getting stronger and have a great offseason and he has to do the same thing,” he continued. “Everything was new this year, so we just have to keep working as a coaching staff and as a group of athletes to be better for next year.”
Where Holden gave credit to the players for this year, Jackson said the key to the Wildcats’ success running the ball didn’t come from him or any of the other players.
“I think the coaches were really the key to everything this year for us,” Jackson said. “We didn't really believe that we could do much this year, but the coaches always pushed us and put it in our heads that we could do it no matter what.
“I expect to do a lot better next year than I did this year.”
During any football season, there are many memories made — some worth remembering and some that are not. Jackson reflection on the season's highlights included two specific games.
“Probably my favorite game from this past season was Cross Roads or Itasca, even though I fumbled a lot those games,” Jackson said while laughing.
“He had six touchdowns against Cross Roads, who going into the season was our biggest rivals,” Holden added. “For him to step up and have a game like that against Cross Roads was pretty big.
“He also rushed for over 300 yards against Itasca so that's why that game was a big one for him, too.”
As far as the first team All-State honor goes, Jackson said it was something that was humbling for him.
“It means a lot for me,” Jackson said. “It goes to show that I had a great group of guys blocking for me. I'm just really happy that my coaches and teammates pushed me and helped me out through the whole thing.”