By David Krueger Herald Writer
MILL CREEK — The Jackson football team has developed a tradition of excellent quarterbacks in recent years, and with the Timberwolves latest first-round all-conference quarterback graduating, the door has opened for the next potential star quarterback to take over.
Alex Cheesman and Wesley Love are vying for the chance to follow in the footsteps of Conor Plaisance and Sam Brown, another All-Wesco 4A South first-team selection, before him. The duo are keeping Jackson head coach Joel Vincent busy in early-season practices as he tries to figure out how best to utilize two strong players.
“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.”
Cheesman, a junior, returns to the Jackson team this season while Love comes over as a transfer from Woodinville. Both have the potential to be stars at Jackson, according to Vincent.
“Each brings a set of skills and has their strengths,” Vincent said. “Part of this two and a half weeks for us coaches to get ready is seeing where those skills fit best. … Alex is more your traditional pocket passer type kid. Wesley’s super-athletic, and at the same time throws a very nice ball like Alex does.”
Vincent has also toyed with the idea of using both quarterbacks, rotating Cheesman or Love in depending on the situation.
“Maybe we can be creative and create packages for both of those guys,” Vincent said.
Either quarterback will have lots of help around him as the Timberwolves return first-team All-Wesco South 4A wide receivers Trey Robinson and Alek Baumgartner. Keynan Foster was a second-team receiver and Jackson also has Jake Miles (second-team All-Wesco) returning on the offensive line.
The large number of returning players has helped Jackson get off to a quick start in the first week of practice.
“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.”
Vincent also expects some younger guys, such as sophomore offensive lineman Ryan Fee, to step up for the Timberwolves this season. Fee spent last season on the freshman team but Vincent sounds ready to give Fee a lot of varsity snaps.
“It’s a big jump, but what we’ve seen here in the first five days and what we saw in the spring, we think he’s ready,” Vincent said.
The Jackson coach likes what he’s seeing from his whole team early on, and said he’s ahead of where he thought they would be this early in the season. Vincent said that the kids have really dedicated themselves to the Jackson football program year-round, in an effort to continue the Timberwolves’ recent success.
And he believes that trend will continue, regardless of which quarterback starts for Jackson.
“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.”