MONMOUTH — The Monmouth-Roseville football team found their way back last season, but not before a humiliating 42-7 loss to Kewanee in Game 1.
It made this year’s game against the Boilermakers all the more enjoyable, as MR emerged from their first night of action with a 22-16 win, thanks to performances from two seniors.
From running back, Jerome Jackson and CJ Johnson combined for 252 yards. Jackson, who scored three touchdowns, added seven tackles on defense, while Johnson made 16 saves from the linebacker spot, adding a key sack and interception that helped seal the win.
The Titans suffered narrow losses to Hall and Morrison, but Jackson and Johnson still put up big numbers. In three games, the duo rushed for 232 and 238 yards, respectively. Johnson had added 175 receiving yards and made 47 tackles.
“CJ is the best defensive player on the field this year,” said MR head coach Jeremy Adolphson. “His size, speed and instinct allow him to make plays that I’ve seen very few times in my 24 years of training.”
Johnson’s interception in a hard-hitting opener
It might not have been his toughest game of the night against Kewanee, but the 6-foot-1, 175-pound senior’s interception was the most impactful. As Kewanee drove in the fourth quarter to tie or take the lead, Johnson moved forward past a Boilermakers pass. All the Titans needed to do from there to salt the game was post a first down, which they did.
“On this play, I had their running back, and he came out of the backfield for a route,” Johnson said. “Their quarterback was struggling, and I just stood in front of the running back and took him out.”
Johnson also had 16 tackles.
“Last year against Kewanee I came out with a concussion,” he said. “This year, even if it’s not exactly the same team, we wanted to prove to them that we were better than them. I do not like losing. At first, every time I made a tackle, I felt like they fell pretty easily. I thought, ‘That could be fun.’ I knew right away that they weren’t better than us.
“CJ made tremendous progress in his junior year playing in multiple positions on offense and becoming one of our best players overall,” Adolphson said. “This year he will take on the role of running back,” which has seen him have 50 touches from scrimmage so far this season.
Johnson even stepped in on another highlight play of the game – Jackson’s 65-yard run, which was featured on a television news show that night.
Jackson shows great game potential
“On my last touchdown, I took a throw out,” Jackson said. “I cut it and passed everyone. CJ was the primary blocker.
Johnson remembers the game well.
“He threw a defender and he was off to the races,” he said. “No one is going to catch him. He’s the fastest guy on the team.
Johnson said the speedster was good to have on the team for other reasons as well.
“He’s pretty clumsy, but in a funny way,” he said. “Maybe he’ll do a little dance after he scores a touchdown, and we’ll be excited together before the games.”
Jackson’s coach appreciates his big-game potential.
“Jerome played his freshman year of high school football last year,” Adolphson said of the 6-1, 180-pounder. “He had an immediate impact on our defense and was selected for the all-conference first team. This year he will be a much bigger part of our offense as Kewanee shows. He has the ability to score every time he touches the ball.
And he nearly did it in Game 1, scoring three touchdowns on just six offensive touches. His long TD capped a rushing night of 123 yards on just four carries. He also caught two passes for 19 yards, including a scoring strike from schoolmate Silas Braun.
“We knew we could stick with them and then after they scored their first touchdown they stopped scoring,” said Jackson, who had yet to attend enough practices last season to face Kewanee. .
Johnson shared his 110 yards against Kewanee fairly evenly, a trend he continued in the Titans’ next two games. Jackson was asked to talk about his field mate.
“He’s quick too and he’s one of the strongest kids on the team,” he said of Johnson. ” He’s a good boy. He has a bright future ahead of him. »
Titans looking to rally from 1-2 record to qualify for playoffs
The Titans could too. A year ago, MR rallied from an 0-1 start to reach the playoffs. This year, they will have to overcome their current record of 1-2.
“I feel like we can go pretty far,” Jackson said. “I think we can go far in the playoffs. We’re pretty athletic this year, and we’re pretty deep.
“I think we can go to the playoffs,” he said. “We have more athletes than most teams. If we play hard, no one will beat us.
Next up for the Titans this Friday night is a game against Sherrard without a win. Although the Tigers come into the game with an 0-3 record, they have been more competitive this season, as evidenced by their losses of seven and six points over the past two weeks.
Beyond football season, Jackson and Johnson will also team up for the Titans basketball team this winter, and they’ll be active in the spring as well. Johnson stands out on the baseball team, while Jackson runs on the track. They both plan to continue their athletic careers in college and their physical talents give them options.
“I haven’t decided yet,” Johnson said. “I’m going to do the one where I have the most fun this year.”
Academically, he plans to pursue studies leading to a career in sales, perhaps in the fields of medicine or agriculture.
Jackson hopes to take his football career to the next level while studying business or marketing.
“I want to get into investing and eventually have my own business – maybe in something like shoes or clothes,” he said.