No one set of numbers may jump out at you when looking at the senior year of Hahnville’s Jha’Quan Jackson, but taken together, it’s understandable why Tulane football coach Willie Fritz was so eager to sign the Hahnville product.
“His athletic ability, what he’s done over not just this year, but in his four-year career, the result is he’s gotten a scholarship to play football at Tulane. I know in just talking to Coach Fritz, they are expecting tremendous things out of him, as am I,” Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio said of Jackson.
Not only did Jackson catch the ball for Hahnville, he also ran it, passed it, and ran back kicks. In his senior year, the big question for Jackson was where he was going to line up.
That wasn’t due to any fancy offensive scheme, but out of necessity. Jackson was returning to his natural position after playing quarterback with Anthony “Pooka” Williams running all over the field in 2017. With Williams’ graduation and the transfer of Vandebilt Catholic quarterback Andrew Robison, Jackson was expected to have a big year at receiver.
The full-time receiver gig, however, was not in the cards when Robison was ruled ineligible. That caused Jackson to have to play all over the field, including a bit at quarterback. Robison was declared eligible by an arbitrator in time for Week 10 of the season and the postseason.
For Jackson’s versatility under some trying circumstances, he has been selected as RiverParishFootball.com’s co-Athlete of the Year.
In what proved to be limited action at receiver, Jackson had 26 catches for 340 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran the ball 57 times for 238 yards, was 6 of 14 passing for 30 yards and returned 22 kicks for 241 yards and a touchdown.
“He came out and played multiple positions for us. He was a punter returner, kick returner, receiver, slot receiver,” Saltaformaggio said. “We had to try to find ways to just kind of get him the ball because we knew we were struggling to get him the ball in our passing game.
“He never backed down. He did the things he was supposed to do.”
The things Jackson was supposed to do has varied, going back to his days before being in high school.
“All my life I wanted to play receiver but in my middle school days, I played quarterback,” said Jackson. “When I first got to high school, I played varsity my freshman year and that’s really where I started working that thing.
“After I hit the Tulane camp and knew I had the juice, I just started working on that more and more and I got crafty. My sophomore year, I played varsity where they needed me. My junior year, even when I played quarterback.”
Jackson has been no slouch as a kick returner and punt returner, either.
“He was excellent at both,” said Saltaformaggio. “He has a great burst. He’s not afraid on kickoff returns to hit the wedge at 100 miles an hour. Sometimes, that wedge is not there but he still hit it like it was going to be every single time. You got a chance to see what kind of front-line speed he had in that respect.
“You turn around and look at him as a punt returner and that’s more about getting a little bit of a wiggle and making the first guy miss and then getting behind a wall and then you can use your speed.”
Past winners of the Athlete of the Year award include: Shawn Preston, linebacker/defensive back, St. James and Garland Robertson, defensive back/wide receiver/punt returner, Riverside (2017); Anthony “Pooka” Williams, running back/wide receiver/kicker returner, Hahnville (2016); D’Monte Coxie, wide receiver/kicker returner, East St. John (2015); Xavier Lewis, quarterback/defensive back, East St. John (2014), Jeremy Jackson, running back/kick returner, West St. John (2013); Sergio Medina, running back, linebacker, Hahnville (2012); Jeffery Hall, defensive back/running back, St. Charles, and Jairus Moll, wide receiver/defensive back, West St. John (2011); and Jarvis Landry, wide receiver/linebacker/defensive back, Lutcher (2010).
*All of the 2018 River Parish post-season trophies were purchased at Faber Awards. They were paid for by the sponsorship of DiCarlo’s Food and Spirits. Located in Cypress Lakes Country Club, DiCarlo’s Food and Spirits is open to the public for lunch and dinner Tuesday-through Saturday. They offer a full menu and daily lunch specials, crawfish and seafood specials on Friday during Lent. You can find out more on their Facebook page or by calling (985) 764-6868.