West Bloomfield has been winning games with an explosive offense, led by Trishton Jackson, who can play quarterback or receiver.
But in order for the Lakers to beat Farmington Harrison on Friday night, they needed Jackson to contribute in even more ways.
He did just that.
Jackson’s 60-yard punt return with a minute left provided the winning margin in the Lakers’ 20-14 victory.
“I’m a player, I’m a baller. I got the ball, and I did what I do best, I found the end zone,” he said. “I was in shock (that there was so much running room). I just trusted my instincts out there.”
Apparently, he’s also a quick learner. According to coach Ron Bellamy, Jackson began returning punts this week.
“We knew it was going to be a fourth-quarter football game, and we prepared for it,” Bellamy said. “We made an adjustment and put Trish on the punt return. Boy, did it play out for us. We were going to put the best 11 on the field, and he has to touch the ball, he makes magic happen. He’s the best player in the state of Michigan.”
If that wasn’t enough, Jackson preserved West Bloomfield’s first undefeated regular season since 1962 by picking off a last-ditch Harrison pass. He also connected with Garrett Winn for the game-tying touchdown, a 13-yard pass to the goal line with 7 minutes left.
Even Harrison coach John Herrington was impressed.
“Halfway-decent athlete,” he said of Jackson. “Big players make big plays in big games, and that’s what he did.”
The Lakers (9-0) led, 7-6, at halftime, but the Hawks (7-2) pulled ahead in the third quarter after recovering a fumbled long snap to the punter at the Lakers’ 11. Jared Char got the ball to the 1 after three carries, and quarterback Anthony Giovanni snuck it across. Giovanni passed to Jamison Scarber for the two-point conversion.
Harrison recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass before the third quarter was finished, but couldn’t add any more points and spent the fourth quarter punting into the wind.
“When we got up, 14-7, I thought we had a good chance of holding on, but we couldn’t move the ball enough to get a first down,” Herrington said. “I didn’t think we controlled the ball.”
Of the Lakers’ nine wins, Bellamy said it was the first time his team had to come from behind late.