The Jackson football team is beginning the season with several familiar faces.
Four of those faces are putting in a little extra work to help get the Timberwolves fired up as they try to top last year’s team, which went 9-2 and reached the first round of the Class 4A state tournament.
Trey Robinson, Jake Miles, Keynan Foster and Nick eWhite, who have dubbed themselves the “Glory Boyz,” have spent the offseason in the weight room and at camps trying to do all they can to help Jackson have another standout season.
“The definition of ‘glory’ is ‘distinction and pride,’” White said. “Us four, we always take pride in what we do, like training, combines and competing with other people from other schools. And ‘distinction,’ we want to stand out.”
“We want to be all-conference,” Miles added. “Work together on both sides of the ball. Just a tight-knit group here. Always together.”
The Glory Boyz certainly earned distinction last season. The group features three seniors — who all happen to be captains — and Foster, the lone junior. Robinson (receiver), Miles (linebacker) and White (linebacker) each earned first-team All-Wesco honors last season. Foster was a second-team selection at wide receiver.
Robinson said the group is incredibly close and “hangs out every day.”
“When we hang out, we just talk about what we’re going to do this upcoming year,” Robinson said. “Us three are captains and we’re trying to mentor (Foster) to be the best.”
Miles said the Glory Boyz can define their mantra in a single word.
“One word would be ‘grind,’” Miles said. “Just come out here every day. Do what you have to do, work as hard as you can. While everybody else wants to lay at home, we’re out here working.”
Along with the Glory Boyz, the Jackson team returns several weapons on offense, defense and special teams. Alek Baumgartner (receiver) and Michael Zeng (kicker) were first-team All-Wesco South 4A selections and Miles and Robinson were second-team selections on the offensive line and at defensive back, respectively.
The large group of returning players has Jackson head coach Joel Vincent excited for the season, and even has the Timberwolves ahead of where Vincent thought they would be this early in the year.
“What it comes down to, with so many guys, is we’re not reinventing the wheel,” Vincent said. “We’re not teaching things for the first time. We’re reviewing and we’re refining. As a program, that’s a nice place to be.”
About the only position where there isn’t a returning starter is quarterback, but even there the Timberwolves have a couple good options.
Alex Cheesman and Wesley Love are vying for the chance to follow in the footsteps of first-team all-league quarterback Conor Plaisance. Cheesman, a junior, returns to the Jackson team this season while Love came over as a transfer from Woodinville.
Both left strong impressions on Vincent in early-season practices.
“We’re very fortunate,” Vincent said. “We have a strong tradition here of great quarterbacks and it looks like we’ve got a couple more right now that are in the mix and in the running.”
Either quarterback will have plenty of help with Robinson, Foster and Baumgartner.
“It certainly helps when you throw a bad ball,” Cheesman said. “I know they can make a play, which gives me a lot of confidence.”
Zeng, for one, likes what he sees from his Jackson team in practice.
“I’m just a kicker,” Zeng said, “but from a kicker’s point of view, I get to see the whole team practice all the time. I think the team has a lot of talent.”
Vincent said the whole team has really bought into the Jackson program, and it wasn’t just the Glory Boyz who spent the offseason in the weight room, working hard and getting better.
“This program over the last decade or so, I don’t think a kid comes to school here and doesn’t think, ‘This is the year that we’re going to win,’” Vincent said. “It’s become the expectation around here and we saw that through the spring in terms of levels of participation in our spring camp. We saw that in the summer with the high number of kids in the weight room. I like where we’re at.”
With the Glory Boyz leading the way, the Timberwolves appear primed for another strong season. The quartet said they want to help make the 2013 Jackson team one that stands out in school history. They want to lead the Timberwolves somewhere they have never been before: the Tacoma Dome.
“One of our goals has always been to get to the T-Dome,” White said. “We really want to get there.”
“We want to one-up last season,” Miles said. “We’ve got a lot of guys coming back and we all want to get farther. … As a group we just want to stand out for other classes, have them remember us, be that group they look up to.”