Determined to play tight end for Central Valley High School’s football team, Elijah “Booty” Jackson changed his diet and upped his work ethic leading up to the 2022 season.
“I cut out junk food,” said Jackson, who dropped from 270 to 240 pounds. “I was working out mornings and evenings. I did a lot of running and stairs. I had to get stronger and increase my speed and agility. I made that commitment because I wanted to prove I could play the position.”
Booty Jackson’s dedication paid off as he was recognized, along with Hawk teammates David Lewis, Jayson Casias, Darrius Jackson and Amari O’Bryant at the Central California Conference year-end coaches meeting on Nov. 8 in Merced.
“I’m happy,” Central Valley leader Derrick Goblirsch said while talking about the all-league selection process. “Nominations are based on wins in league.”
Booty Jackson was named to the CCC First Team.
He did a little bit of everything during his final season with the Hawks.
He contributed at tight end, fullback and quarterback.
He was a lineman junior and sophomore years.
“I’m glad the other coaches recognized Booty was a special talent for us,” Goblirsch said. “He definitely earned it. He was the guy we leaned on the most.”
“Showing people what I could do made me really happy,” Booty Jackson said. “Me being able to play different positions was enjoyable. My teammates were surprised. I had some coaches come up to me after games and say I was a beast.”
Booty Jackson rushed for 169 yards and four touchdowns, caught three passes for 43 yards and one TD and completed one pass for 5 yards in six games.
He made five tackles on defense.
“He did everything we asked of him,” Goblirsch said. “I really appreciate that.”
“The first time I went in as quarterback, it was nerve racking,” Booty Jackson said. “After the first play, I was fine. Once I get the ball, it’s hard to take me down.”
Lewis was named to the CCC Second Team.
The senior cornerback had 19 tackles, six pass deflections and one fumble recovery.
“His technique was really good,” Goblirsch said. “That’s why he was able to have success.”
Casias and Darrius Jackson were honorable-mention picks.
Casias, a senior wide receiver, caught 20 passes for 465 yards and three touchdowns.
“I was shocked Jayson didn’t get First or Second Team,” Goblirsch said. “Teams knew what we were going to do and they still couldn’t stop him. That’s the mark of a great offensive player.”
Darrius Jackson, a junior and Booty’s younger brother, switched from playing safety to quarterback after starter Mario Gonzalez suffered a season-ending injury during Week 3.
“He embraced the role,” Goblirsch said. “You could see him growing as a quarterback on the field and as a leader within our team. Everyone saw Darrius was a special talent back there. He’s a gifted athlete.”
Darrius Jackson passed for 787 yards and seven touchdowns with six interceptions.
He rushed for 350 yards and one touchdown.
“He did a great job,” Goblirsch said. “A lot of his rushing yards was from improvising.”
O’Bryant, a senior wide receiver/strong safety, was named Central Valley’s CCC Sportsmanship recipient.
He caught seven passes for 55 yards and one touchdown.
He collected 50 tackles and recovered two fumbles.
“He’s a very coachable kid,” Goblirsch said. “He never complains. He’s very positive. He’s a lead-by-example type of kid. If we had 20 more of him on our team, we’d be pretty successful.”