Jovan Jackson did not play football last season and missed a large portion of Bettendorf’s workouts early this summer.
But with each passing week, the Bulldogs are finding a way to incorporate the senior receiver into their offense.
After scoring a touchdown last week at North Scott, Jackson had a nifty catch in the back of the end zone Friday night as Class 4A second-ranked Bettendorf overwhelmed Dubuque Senior 51-14 at TouVelle Stadium.
“I didn’t know if I was going to catch it,” Jackson admitted. “The man came up, I went behind him, adjusted my body and caught it with one hand.”
Bettendorf (8-0, 3-0 district) secured at least a share of the district title and can win it outright with a victory over Davenport West next week.
The Bulldogs sprinted out to a 24-0 advantage, allowed a score before halftime and then rebounded with four straight touchdowns to build a 51-7 cushion early in the fourth quarter.
“We wanted to come out fast,” Bettendorf coach Aaron Wiley said. “We were pretty sharp early on. It was an all-around good effort by our guys.”
The versatility in Bettendorf’s offense continues to show. Quarterback Owen Ridenour ran for a touchdown and completed 11 of 14 throws for 146 yards and two scores as the Bulldogs registered 400 yards of offense.
Dax Emerson, Dalton McLaughlin, Keaton Cain and Jackson found the end zone for the Bulldogs.
Jackson, who transferred from Chicago Simeon at the start of last school year and was required to sit out the football season, has given the Bulldogs another athletic playmaker on the perimeter.
“He’s a talented kid,” Wiley said. “It has been a learning curve for him, but he’s becoming a bigger part of what we’re doing. He plays hard and is getting more comfortable with what we’re doing.”
Jackson admits it has been an adjustment learning the terminology and intricacies of the offense.
“It has been a little hard,” he said. “We didn’t have hand signals at Simeon, but the coaches have done a good job of going through all that with me. They tell me what to do and I go do it.”
Bettendorf’s defense was stingy, too. The Bulldogs handcuffed the Rams (3-5, 1-2) to 114 total yards and forced seven punts.
Quarterback Lee Bonifas had only 37 total yards of offense. He came in averaging almost 184 per contest.
“They’re really good in their front seven,” Senior coach Dale Ploessl said. “We had a hard time sustaining our blocks and maintaining blocks, and getting past the line of scrimmage.”
Jack Sullivan had an interception and Riley Biggs recovered a fumble for the Bulldogs, who have won six of their eight games by least 24 points.
“Some previous games, we haven’t come out like we wanted,” Sullivan said. “We came out pretty nice in that first quarter. We punched them first.
“Our coaches have challenged us all week to start fast. We stepped up to the challenge today.”