Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Confident Sunlake sees brighter days ahead

QB Jacob Jackson is ready to get to work, and he says Sunlake will be “10 times better” this season.

BRIAN BLANCO | Special to the Times

QB Jacob Jackson is ready to get to work, and he says Sunlake will be “10 times better” this season.

LAND O'LAKES — The whispers from players gathered a few yards behind Sunlake's offense carried well.

"They're going to be good," one voice said. "Real good," said another.

After three seasons of mediocrity, Sunlake is poised to battle — dare it be said — for a playoff berth in the program's fourth year. That's a bold statement considering the Seahawks have to face tough teams like Pasco, Land O'Lakes and Mitchell in Class 3A, District 7. After back-to-back seasons with a combined record of 1-19, Sunlake went a respectable 4-6 in 2009.

One reason for even greater optimism is the progression of quarterback Jacob Jackson. The senior, who transferred from Gulf last year, admits he has a better grasp on the playbook, prompting Seahawks coach Bill Browning to declare Sunlake will throw a lot more than a year ago.

"We've been run-oriented but we're going to be close to 50-50 (run-pass)," Browning said. "We're going to open it up some, and Jacob's a big reason."

On this night of Pasco County's seven-on-seven touch football league, Jackson's feet moved through tall grass on his home field. His eyes shifted beyond the defense. A few pump fakes then a pinpoint spiral snapped from his hand to one of his favorite targets. It was one of several touchdowns.

Jackson appeared comfortable and in command, albeit without the threat of a defensive lineman charging in his face.

Last year was a lot more work and a lot less fun.

"I have a year of experience with the offense," Jackson said. "I have everything down now. I know the plays."

Jackson's first outing in 2009 was abysmal despite being an exhibition game. He went 1-for-7 for 9 yards on a late August night. The Seahawks had to wait until the end of September to enjoy their first victory, a 35-17 win over Gulf. Then came the program's first win streak after a 47-0 victory against Anclote. In that game, Jackson rushed for two touchdowns, including a 40-yarder.

Turns out running was a key element to his game.

The ground game, particularly the shiftiness of sophomore Rashaud Daniels, certainly helped make up for problems in the passing game.

Browning hopes better speed from his receivers in the fall will help Jackson avoid some of the pitfalls that contributed to his issues with grasping the playbook.

"We're trying to get a little more speed at wideout," Browning said. "He didn't have that. It was hard for him sometimes. He was forcing some balls and (receivers) couldn't get separation (from defenders)."

That separation was there Tuesday night as Jackson continued to gain experience and tighter relationships with his teammates.

Those whispers are certainly a confidence booster, though Jackson tries not to let predictions inflate his ego.

"This year, I think we'll be 10 times better," Jackson said. "We have the potential to make the playoffs. … I hear it from other schools. I don't try to brag, I just want to show people we're better this year."

Izzy Gould can be reached at igould@tampabay.com or (813) 421-3886.

Confident Sunlake sees brighter days ahead 07/15/10 [Last modified: Thursday, July 15, 2010 6:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 12:45: Cash said Robertson was taking better swings Friday and so he wanted to move him up today, liking the idea of having three straight right-handers vs. a LHP they don't know much about. ... Souza was still smiling this morning about his failed dive attempt last night, and the reaction it got. .. The …

  2. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  3. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. This Tampa Bay Lightning wing rides the newest wave of fan interaction

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There are photos of Lightning fan Shaun Egger as a toddler at center ice at the then-Thunderome, aka Tropicana Field. He's played in the Lightning's high school hockey league for Palm Harbor University. But his closest personal encounter with players had been waving through a crowd after a training camp …

    Tampa Bay Lightning player J.T. Brown wears his anti UV glasses as he talks over the headset with a hockey fan while they play against each other on line in an XBOX NHL video game in Brown's game room at his home in south Tampa. The fan chose to be the Washington Capitals and Brown, of course, was the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brown interacts with fans through video game systems as he streams the games live on Twitch with plans for the proceeds to go to charity.
  5. ‘Biggest fight' behind her, Petra Kvitova returns ahead of schedule

    Tennis

    PARIS — Five months after a home invader's knife sliced into her left hand, Petra Kvitova will return to competitive tennis at the French Open, a last-minute decision to make her comeback earlier than expected.

    Petra Kvitova adjusts her hair during a news conference at Roland Garros Stadium, where she will make her tennis return at the French Open. Kvitova's left hand was badly injured by a knife-wielding intruder in December; she has recovered ahead of schedule. [Associated Press]