I was expecting the typical complimentary response any coach would give when asked about one his players who’d played exceptionally well.
What I got was even better.
Smith talked about Jackson’s journey to becoming the leading rusher on a team that finished the season 12-2 and a game away from competing for a second consecutive state championship.
“I’m very proud of Derrick Jackson. Derrick’s a kid that going into the season, he didn’t really have a spot. Coming off the end of the year last year, he kind of lost his spot as a receiver. We went kind of on a hunch and put him in the backfield and I think he had an outstanding season for us. He did a great job as what we call our A-back or our tailback. He made a lot of big plays for us.
“I’m very proud of him because he’s a kid that’s worked very hard to make himself into a good football player. I can’t say enough good things about him. He did a great job for us as a running back and played well on the defensive side of the ball at corner.”
The diminutive Jackson, who stands 5-foot-9 and weighs 155 pounds, carried the ball 16 times for a game-high 126 yards against the Aggies (14-0). His 39-yard tote for a touchdown put Piedmont on the board first with 7:59 remaining in the first quarter.
Jackson finished the season with 1, 137 yards and 13 touchdowns on 118 carries, by my unofficial count, in a backfield that also included preseason Dandy Dozen selections sophomore Jamie Major and classmate Jamaal Johnson. Jackson also had two interceptions.
• LOCALS TABBED TO OFFICIATE AT SUPER 6: Despite none of the 30-plus teams in The Star’s coverage reaching the state finals in football this season, there will still be some local flavor on the field when the Super 6 kicks off at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium Thursday. Allen Gilbert of Jacksonville (referee), Greg Bearden of Oxford (side judge) and Karl Nobles of Pell City (umpire) will all be a part of the seven-man officiating crew that will handle the Class 5A state title game between Briarwood Christian (13-1) and Spanish Fort (12-2). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
RANDALL: I failed to mention it in my story chronicling White Plains’ boys basketball team’s 66-53 victory against Woodland in the final of Daniel Davenport Invitational in Sunday’s paper and he didn’t make a big deal about it all after the game. However, it should be mentioned that the Wildcats’ 52-37 win against Sacred Heart in the semifinals of the tournament Saturday morning was the 200th of coach Chris Randall’s stint at the school.
Randall took over the program 10 years ago after two seasons at Trinity Christian and continued its winning tradition. In 2008, Randall was named the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 2A Coach of the Year after leading the Wildcats to a 26-6 record and an appearance in the Final 48 at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention-Complex.
Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575. Follow him on Twitter @birds_word.