Reow Jackson is the type of player that can single-handedly break a defense.
The Marist Catholic senior quarterback did exactly that in last week’s opener against Crescent Valley, scoring four first-half touchdowns before the Raiders found their footing in a comeback win. Lebanon was eager to test its defense against the highly-touted athlete.
Jackson tossed a pair of interceptions and was sacked five times by the Warriors, who pulled away for a 37-14 victory on Sept. 8 in a nonconference game at Heath Stadium. The defending 5A state champions allowed just 96 yards on the ground while rushing for 392 of their own.
“I’m really happy with (defensive coordinator Kris) Judy and our entire defensive staff,” Lebanon coach Ty Tomlin said. “They’ve really done a great job of having game plans ready to go for both our opponents.
“The kids are learning as we go. They really do trust in the idea of team and when we get 11 guys to the ball, we can really bring it.”
The Warriors (2-0), who open Mid-Willamette Conference play at home against Crescent Valley (2-0) this Friday, pitched a second-half shutout in last week’s 33-6 rout of Springfield. A garbage-time touchdown pass from Jackson doubled Marist’s (0-2) score in the closing minutes.
Jackson, a first-team all-Midwestern League selection at quarterback and defensive back in 2016, finished 14 of 23 for 237 yards with a TD and two interceptions. He also ran for 53 yards and a score on 10 carries.
Clyde Rood led the Warriors with 10 carries for 162 yards, ripping off long TD runs of 42 and 92 yards.
“He’s been an awesome little surprise for us,” Tomlin said of the senior. “He’s worked super, super hard and he’s just got some confidence. I think he wants to be the guy and he’s starting to relish that position. He really believes he can be that guy, and we need that out of him because he’s really good.”
Junior quarterback Colton Shepard completed 7 of 16 passes for 76 yards with an interception. Shepard, who also ran for 57 yards and two scores, was hurt by a number of drops.
Chaz Daniels came off the bench to rush for 96 yards on five touches with a TD.
Tomlin praised the offensive and defensive lines for dominating the point of attack.
“Our backs looked real good, but it’s because of those big dirties up front,” he said.
Daniel Hassenger blocked a punt and recovered a squib kick for the Warriors, who led 19-7 at the break and 31-7 heading to the fourth quarter.
After forcing a three-and-out to open the game, Shepard ran in a 23-yard option keeper to cap an eight-play, 55-yard drive.
Jackson hit a wide open Jace Krier for what appeared to be an easy touchdown on Marist's ensuing possession, but an illegal formation penalty brought it back. Two plays later, Ray Rashoodi picked off Jackson and returned it 34 yards to the Marist 6.
A 9-yard Shepard scramble of fourth-and-goal made it 13-0 midway through the opening quarter.
Jackson cut it to 13-7 early in the second with a 1-yard scoring dive. On Lebanon's next play from scrimmage, Rood shed multiple defenders along the left sideline en route to a 92-yard TD.
Scoring runs by Rood (42 yards), Cody Johnson (1) and Daniels (52) helped Lebanon blow it open in the second half. Jackson and the Marist offense couldn’t keep up.
While thrilled to be 2-0 to start the season, Tomlin knows conference play is what truly matters.
“We respect what we’re going to face next week,” he said. “(Talanoa Hufanga) is freaking talented and we know that. So it’s a challenge, but we like that challenge.”