Trib HS Insider Q&A: Highlands' Elijah Jackson
Sophomore Elijah Jackson — a shifty multi-purpose back with breakaway speed and slick moves — has the potential to be Highlands' playmaker of the future.
But Jackson knows potential will only take him so far.
“When I am not playing, I am working out and trying to get better,” said Jackson, who is 5-foot-7 and 145 pounds.
His teammates are aware of Jackson's talent, but they know he is a work in progress.
“He has the best vision I have ever seen,” junior teammate Allan Cratsenberg said. “He has the potential to play Division I if he stays in the weight room.”
Lining up at tailback and wide receiver, Jackson has rushed for 455 yards and five touchdowns. He has nine receptions for 97 yards and a score.
He also is a dangerous kick and punt returner for the Golden Rams.
Q: You grew up in New Kensington until the fourth grade when you moved across the bridge to Harrison?
A: Yes, I played for the Ar-Ken Rens. I still have some friends at Valley — Demetrius Houser, Rashaad Blair, Dale Lasko. I have old pictures with them.
Q: Did you think you'd have such an impact so early?
A: Coach told me I would be playing a lot. I wasn't expecting that too much. Whatever I can do to help the team win.
Q: Do you prefer wideout or running back?
A: Running back. I like to run hard. You always have the ball in your hands.
Q: Your cousin is assistant coach John Duffy, a former Highlands standout. What has he taught you?
A: He used to play and he took a couple kickoffs back for touchdowns. He always shows me how to play cornerback, back-peddling and things like that.
Q: What's been the team's most memorable play of the season?
A: Well, it wasn't me. It was a (70-yard) touchdown to (sophomore wide receiver) Chris Fick (against Indiana). He doesn't catch a lot in practice, so we were surprised.
Q: That play was designed for you?
A: Yes. It was supposed to be a little screen pass. I got looked off. The middle linebacker was guarding me tight.
Q: The word is you are extra critical of yourself?
A: I feel if we lose, I should step up and take the blame. I hate losing. When we started out, the team wasn't talking much in the huddle. I always try to pump them up.
Q: Has standout linebacker Allan Cratsenberg ever hit you in practice?
A: Thankfully, no. He hits hard. He doesn't take anything from anybody.
Q: What's the most inspirational thing coach Sam Albert has said to you?
A: I like when he says, ‘The first thing other teams see on the field is that we will hit you.'