The standout wide receiver and safety also will handle punting duties for retooled Jackson squad.
JACKSON TWP. To prepare for a faster tempo this season, Jake Ryan believes the Jackson High School football team already has conditioned more than last year’s Polar Bears did the entire 2018 season.
And that’s fine by him.
“I need to run,” the Jackson senior star said. “I can’t get gassed because I need to be on the field. I want to be on the field. I don’t want to come off.”
Opponents would prefer that Ryan take a break now and then.
A first team All-Ohio wide receiver and an impact player at safety, Ryan plans to be a busy man again this season for the retooled Polar Bears.
To be “The Man,” Jackson head coach Tim Budd has challenged Ryan to take his conditioning to another level this season. The Colgate University recruit basically will come off the field only on kickoffs.
“It’s a lot to ask,” Budd said. “You’ve got to be in a special kind of shape and you’ve got to hold up over the course of the year.”
Ryan seems to be game.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Ryan caught 58 passes for 1,090 yards — setting single-season school records in both categories — last year to go with nine touchdowns. He already owns Jackson’s record for career receptions (79) and needs 151 yards to pass Dillon Dingler’s career receiving mark of 1,536.
He also intercepted four passes last season and returns as a key piece of an experienced Jackson secondary that could be a real strength.
After catching passes from Jaret Pallotta (now at UMass) in 2017 and Trey Wright (now playing baseball at Toledo) in 2018, Ryan will have one of two sophomores flinging the football his way.
Jacob Fisher and Hunter Geissinger — both 10th-graders — are competing for Jackson’s starting QB job.
“It is kind of like the reverse relationship with me and Jaret Pallotta my sophomore year,” Ryan said. “I was a receiver and he was a Division I quarterback. Now it’s flipped a little bit.
“They like to lean on me sometimes. I talk to them and help them out with coverage-based things. … They’re doing well for sophomores. I think they’re ahead of the curve right now.”
Of course, Ryan could find himself at quarterback in some wildcat formations. A versatile talent, Ryan will handle the punting duties as well this season after long-snapping last year.
Ryan’s defense gets overlooked a bit because of his receiving production. But Budd said this about Ryan the safety: “When he’s rested and ready to go, he’s a game changer for us in the secondary.”
Added Ryan, “I love being on defense, honestly. It’s fun being able to hit people, not being the one getting hit every time.”
After winning their first Federal League title in 16 years in 2017, the Polar Bears missed the playoffs and finished 3-3 in the league (6-4 overall) last year. Ryan wants to change that.
“I personally would love to end my senior year with a Federal League championship,” he said. “That’s always the main goal. I want to beat Hoover on their field again. That feels very nice doing that. I just want to go through the Fed undefeated. I don’t want to lose another Federal League game in my career. If I can do that, I’ll be happy with any outcome.”
Reach Josh at 330-580-8426 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @jweirREP