Make us your home page

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 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

  1. Luke Del Rio to start against Vanderbilt for Florida Gators


    GAINESVILLE - The Florida Gators have made another quarterback change.

  2. HomeTeam 25: Football rankings for Tampa Bay


    1. Armwood (2-0)

    Up next: at Blake (Thursday)

    Armwood High School quarterback Devin Black (7) hands the ball off to running back Larry Anderson (13) during the Spring Football Jamboree in Seffner, Fla. on Thursday, May 18, 2017.
  3. Don't expect to see protests in college football any time soon


    The whispers have segued to chatter. In time, it may evolve into rumblings, or even a groundswell.

    Following the national anthem, helicopters fly over Ohio Stadium in a missing-man formation in tribute to John Glenn before a game between Army and Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. (Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch/TNS)
  4. Lightning to retire Vinny Lecavalier's No. 4 in February


    When Marty St. Louis became the first Lightning player to have his jersey retired back in January, it was hard not to think that former captain Vinny Lecavalier would be the next one.

    Vinny Lecavalier takes the ice before a 2010 game against the Florida Panthers.
  5. Rick and Tom podcast: Worst-Case (Keenum) scenario


    Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down the Bucs' 34-17 loss to the Vikings on Sunday in Minneapolis in their latest podcast.

    Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum (7) scrambles away from Bucs defensive end William Gholston (92) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]