High School: Marquis Jackson

ARLINGTON, Texas – Winning two state championships should be a perfect way to end a high school football career. That just wasn’t enough for former Aledo cornerback Rylan Riney.

Riney returned to his home in the Metroplex as the low man in College Station, working hard for a walk-on spot for Texas A&M, to become the defensive MVP of the Texas High School Coaches Association All-Star football game in a 38-14 North squad win.

[+] EnlargeMarquis Jackson
Travis L. Brown for ESPN.comFort Worth Arlington Heights' Marquis Jackson, who is headed for Kansas, scored to touchdowns to win offensive MVP honors.
Riney made his mark on the game with eight minutes left in the fourth, returning an interception 27 yards for a score.

“Just getting that interception – my eyes were wide and just getting that feeling back and putting the pads on - is unbelievable,” Riney said.

Riney sat back in coverage when he noticed an open South All-Star the near the sideline. He jumped the route just in time to snag the pass and return it untouched into the end zone. The defensive score came on the first South play after a North offensive touchdown.

“It was crazy,” Riney said. “I could replay it over and over. It’s something I’m going to remember forever.”

Riney also added three tackles and one pass break up to help secure the MVP honor, which he said he will framed to show it off to his new teammates at A&M.

On the offensive side of the ball, former Fort Worth Arlington Heights wide receiver Marquis Jackson will be able to take the offensive MVP plaque all the way to Kansas when he begins playing for the Jayhawks in the fall.

Jackson began the game with a bang, scoring a 96-yard touchdown off the opening kickoff. The return was just shy of the record for the THSCA All-Star game set by Livingston’s Dustin Harris in 2009 on a 99-yard return.

“I saw the hole and I saw one dude come out and I thought, 'If I could beat this dude, I’m going to go to the house,'” Jackson said.

Jackson added 57 yards receiving, including a 35-yard TD completion from former Highland Park quarterback Jake Howeth in the second. Jackson went up to pull in the pass off a post route behind the South defense.

An offensive MVP showing was a sweet ending to Jackson’s senior year after being bumped from the playoffs in the first round.

“I felt like I had to prove myself in many ways because I left losing in the first round of the playoffs so I felt like I had to come back and prove myself,” Jackson said.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Area players felt right at home during the Texas High School Coaches Association All-Star football game, accounting for all every score for the North in a 38-14 victory.

* Fort Worth Arlington Heights' Marquis Jackson made a very early statement, returning the opening kickoff 96 yards for six. Jackson's return was just 3 yards short of the longest return in the history of the All-Star game, set by Livingston's Dustin Harris in 2009. Jackson, a Kansas recruit, was the offensive MVP of the game.

* Euless Trinity's Tyler Orwig kept the area scoring streak going with a 30-yard field goal with 5:08 left in the first to give the North a 10-0 lead.

* Dallas Woodrow Wilson LB Chad Polk swarmed with the North defense, keeping the South All-Stars off the board in the first quarter. He contributed with two tackles for loss in the opening frame and finished the game with four tackles. Polk almost pulled in an interception

* Highland Park's Jake Howeth looks like he was able to shake the rust off his football throw after focusing on baseball, connecting with Jackson for a 38-yard gain on his first play of the game. He would then show some of his running flair, converting a fourth-and-1 on a quarterback keeper and completing the drive by keeping a read option for the score, widening the North's lead in the second to 17-0 after the PAT. Howeth would connect again with Granbury wide reciever Tyler Wright on an 18-yard fade in the back of the end zone early in the fourth.

* Former Aledo cornerback Rylan Riney had a quiet first half but kept the scoreboard rolling in the second, taking a interception 27 yard into the end zone. That score combined with a few tipped passes earned him the defensive MVP award.

* Frisco Liberty's Malcolm Hill pulled in a 45-yard touchdown pass in the third for the North's other score.
FORT WORTH -- If having a short week to prepare for a Thursday night game isn’t hard enough for Fort Worth Arlington Heights, rain has forced the team to hold two days of practice in its cramped but useful indoor facility.

The two-story high, metal-sided indoor facility is about 20 yards wide and half a football field long. The floor inside is synthetic turf, barely wide enough to fit one of Heights’ spread offense formations.

The players had some difficulty running plays during Wednesday’s scripted walkthrough of the game plan for Thursday’s District 6-4A game against Fort Worth Carter-Riverside (0-1), and coach Ged Kates said not getting quality field time can present a few problems in game preparation.

[+] EnlargeMarquis Jackson
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.comReceiver Marquis Jackson rolled up 250 yards of offense in Fort Worth Arlington Heights' season opener last week.
“The real concern is the spatial part with the receivers and the DB’s and understanding that because it’s a repetition thing,” Kates said. “Quarterbacks have to rep the certain length of throws we do, and that’s the big concern, the passing game and lining up properly.”

However, the team is prepared mentally, Kates said, after three days of walkthroughs, film sessions and team meetings.

The Yellow Jackets (1-0) will ride their hot offensive weapon, wide receiver Marquis Jackson, who is a receiving threat but is used often rushing out of the backfield, especially in Heights’ jumbo set.

Jackson leads the Yellow Jackets in receiving yards and rushing yards after their first game against Azle, rushing for 152 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. He also tallied 98 yards catching passes from quarterback Omar Valadez, once connecting for a touchdown.

“Well, Marquis is such a talented kid and the biggest thing about him is he is such a good kid,” Kates said “When he does something well, you marvel at it, but you also think, ‘Man, it couldn’t happen to a nicer boy.’ We’re going to get the ball in his hands because he’s a special high school player.”

And Jackson says he and his team have taken mental preparation to heart, working on what they can do individually to prepare for Thursday’s game.

“Our motto this week is ‘The man in the mirror,’ to make ourselves better and to prepare for the rest of the season to get better,” Jackson said.

Carter-Riverside’s biggest threat is their quarterback, Jalen Moore. The athletic signal caller has the ability to carry his team on his legs, as he rushed for 129 yards on 22 carries in the Eagles' season-opening loss against North Dallas.

“Their quarterback is a real athlete,” Kates said. “He’s a guy that could probably play multiple positions and that’s the guy we have to figure out how to stop.”

Despite the challenges of inclement weather and less practice time, Kates said this week has been fun for everyone at Arlington Heights.

“It makes for a fun week,” Kates said Wednesday. “Labor Day we had an early-morning practice and no school, and then we had practice yesterday, a JV game today and the game tomorrow. So it makes for a fun week if you do it right.”

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