When Rashad Jackson graduated from Glades Central in 2007, he left as a state champion. When he returned as head coach in 2020, the program was coming off a one-win season where it had to forfeit three wins.
Jackson’s first year as the coach of his alma mater was delayed and then abbreviated due to the coronavirus pandemic, but his first regular season ended with a 35-7 win over previously unbeaten Park Vista on Saturday at Wellington High. Four games into Jackson’s tenure, the Raiders have not lost a game.
“It feels great to just come out and have the kids enjoy themselves,” said Jackson, who is the son of Pahokee legend and NFL Hall of Famer Rickey Jackson. “Last year was a big disappointment for our kids, and this year, they came out, they bought in, they worked hard, and it just paid off on the scoreboard.”
The Raiders, who entered the game averaging about 42 points per game in their first three contests, got off to a slow start on offense. They scored twice: once on a 10-yard run by Jamari Steward and again on a 7-yard run by Desmond Washington.
Glades Central tried to get some more points on the board before halftime, attempting a 51-yard field goal. But Park Vista blocked the kick, and Julian Mountcastle returned the loose ball for a touchdown to end the first half.
“I told the boys, ‘This is what we need. We need a wake-up call,’” Jackson said.
The offense went back to its prolific ways in the second half. Jaheim Humphries scored an 8-yard rushing touchdown, and quarterback Zo’Marion Harper tossed touchdown passes of 62 and 9 yards to Ro’quan Porter and Robert Luckas, respectively.
Glades Central’s defense entered the game having allowed only one score all year, and the unit kept it that way on Saturday. The Raiders held Park Vista to 56 yards of total offense and racked up nine sacks. Glades Central also forced three turnovers.
“That’s great for our offense, too, just to have a defense that can go out and fly to the ball,” Jackson said.
Glades Central, which entered the final week of the season ranked third in the Class 6A-1A tri-county playoff rankings, will have a bye week before playing in the Gold level of the tri-county playoffs. The Raiders are not competing for a Florida High School Athletic Association state title this season, but they have an opportunity to make a statement to the rest of the South Florida football community.
“The kids bought in,” Jackson said. “The first day I had the opportunity to get them, they were licking at the chops to be able to learn what I was implementing, the structure, the discipline. They were just all in. I can’t be more proud of these kids for investing their time, investing in Raider pride and putting it back into the program.”
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