Ground game helps Timberwolves defeat Spartans | Football
Last updated 9/7/2018 at Noon
In recent years, Jackson has been known as a pass happy offense.
In many respects, especially with returning senior quarterback Ben Olesen, the Timberwolves still will continue to air it out.
But the Wolfpack decided that the path to continued success should also include a renewed emphasis on running the ball.
In their 2018 debut, the Jackson passing attack and ground game both had strong performances in a 21-12 victory over Stanwood in a nonconference football game Friday, Aug. 31, at Stanwood High School.
Olesen completed 21 of 31 passes for 188 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 32 yards on six carries. Running back Nick Walsh rushed for 86 yards on 20 carries.
The Timberwolves kept the Spartan defense guessing on almost every play with 31 passes and 30 rushing attempts.
“It was a conscious decision,” Olesen said of Jackson revitalized run game. “We saw last year when we tried to throw a lot, it allowed teams when we played them to drop a lot of guys into pass coverage. This year we’re making an emphasis to try and run the ball, so it opens up the passing game and the passing game will open up the run game.”
Jackson coach Joel Vincent added that “if we’re going to be good, we have to be balanced. For many years teams know we’re going to be throwing the ball. We’ve got to be able to run the ball.”
Trailing 6-0, Jackson took the lead on a 30-yard pass from Olesen to Garrett Holden in the second quarter.
The Spartans retook a 12-7 lead with another touchdown in the third quarter before Jackson responded. Olesen connected on a 6-yard touchdown pass to Christofer Sullivan. Olesen closed out the scoring with a 30-yard scoring strike to Walsh in the fourth quarter.
The protection from the offensive line was solid.
“I didn’t even get sacked,” Olesen said. “I didn’t get touched. We pass blocked really well. It was a great feeling.”
While he agreed with his quarterback’s overall assessment of the line, Vincent noted that it helps that Olesen, a point guard for the basketball team, is one of the faster players on the field.
“Our quarterback is pretty good at eluding pressure,” Vincent said. “There were a couple of times when we broke down in pass protection. Ben makes stuff happen.”
Olesen took over at quarterback his sophomore season before being sidelined with an injury. He resumed his starting duties last year.
“He’s just a lot more polished than a year ago,” Vincent said. “I like that he’s calm no matter what’s going on. He’s a big presence for our guys.”
The Jackson defense returned one starter in defensive back Chris Grayson. Vincent was wondering how the 10 new faces would come together as a unit. The verdict was a big thumbs up.
“I really liked the play of our defense and special teams,” Vincent said. “All in all, it was a great team performance.”
Olesen saw fast and aggressive play from the defense. The 7-on-7 drills in practice really emphasized speed.
“We made it a priority to just play aggressive,” Olesen said. “If you do something wrong, you’d better be doing it aggressively and do it fast. That’s how we played.”
Jackson hosts Mount Rainier in another nonconference game at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 7 at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Olesen noted that the offense started out a little rocky against the Spartans. The Jackson quarterback threw an ill-advised interception, instead of running out of bounds or throwing the ball away.
“A big emphasis in this game is having a really good first quarter,” Olesen said.
Vincent added that the run and pass game both can continue to improve.
“We did not run the ball as well as we would have liked. That’s a continuing point of emphasis of us moving forward,” he said. “The pass game was overall favorable. There are still tweaks and bugs, little things such as the precision of routes and running at the right depth that we can work on. We’ve got to fine-tune some stuff.”