Timberwolves retooling their entire defensive lineup | Football
Last updated 7/20/2018 at Noon
The Jackson football team came into the spring and summer with a jam-packed agenda.
The Timberwolves graduated a significant number of seniors from last year’s 4A playoff squad.
The defense took the biggest hit, as all 11 starters in the final game against Kentwood were seniors. The offense also is seeing significant changes with the graduations of first-team, all-league standouts Daniel Arias (wide receiver) and Johnny Navarro (tight end).
“We’re a tad on the younger side,” Jackson coach Joel Vincent said. “We did a little bit more teaching this spring. The younger kids are going to be really good. You have a big basket of things you want to get done. We made good progress.”
The Wolfpack offense is in good hands with senior Ben Olesen, who also is a standout on the basketball team.
“Ben is a fantastic all-around athlete,” Vincent said. “He’ll continue to provide that athletic leadership and play-making ability he’s demonstrated the last couple of years.”
Vincent and the coaching staff will continue to look to Olesen to provide leadership, especially with a younger squad.
“The kids really look to him,” Vincent said. “As a senior, he’ll embrace that role and be our representative as coaches in the game.”
Vincent had hoped to have the passing offense fully installed by the summer. The Timberwolves didn’t quite get to everything but made solid strides.
“Our wide receivers are really young,” Vincent said. “We’re a spread team. We run four or five wide receivers. Three or four of them are sophomores. So there’s a lot of learning and teaching.”
Two returning seniors Isaac Grayson and Blake Basuel will provide some much needed veteran leadership.
The backfield still is a work in progress, Vincent said, and the objective is to have a better idea of who Jackson can rely on in the running game by the start of the season.
“It’s pretty wide open,” Vincent said.
Senior defensive back Nick Walsh figures to be a key player and leader on defense.
“Last year in the playoff game against Kentwood, we had 11 seniors on defense,” Vincent said. “All those guys are gone. It’s time for the other classes to get their turn.”
Many of those players had the opportunity to show some of their leadership qualities this week as Jackson hosted its annual Junior Timberwolves Football Camp.
“Our players play an integral role in the camp as coaches and as counselors,” Vincent said. “It’s a great opportunity to mentor kids for our older guys. It’s a lot of fun.”