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Football Player of the Week: Lakeview Academy's Jackson Strickland
Senior QB rushed for 140 yards, 2 touchdowns to lead Lions to 1st win
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Honor roll

Jackson McDonald, Flowery Branch: Threw for 170 yards and three touchdowns, rushed for two touchdowns against Winder-Barrow.

Davante King, Flowery Branch: Caught two touchdown passes against Winder-Barrow.

Zac Cheshire, Chestatee: Rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns against Walnut Grove.

William Fayson, Chestatee: Recorded 19 tackles, a sack and an interception against Walnut Grove.

Cody Humphries, Chestatee: Recorded four sacks against Walnut Grove.

Avonte Gober, Lakeview Academy: Rushed for three touchdowns against Cross Keys.

T.J. Skelton, Jefferson: Rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime, passed for 119 yards and a touchdown against Rabun County.

Thomas Wilson, Buford: Rushed for 71 yards and two touchdowns, caught a touchdown pass against White County.

Brannon Dyer, North Hall: Rushed for 61 yards and two touchdowns against Fannin County.

Andrew Smith, North Hall: Passed for 112 yards and two touchdowns, rushed for a touchdown against Fannin County.

Joseph Mancuso, Union County: Passed for 325 yards and five touchdowns against Riverside Military.

Jacob Rogers, Union County: Caught 10 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns against Riverside Military.

Collin Pettell, Riverside Military: Passed for 240 yards and three touchdowns against Union County.

Raleigh Beougher, Riverside Military: Caught six passes for 124 yards and a touchdown against Union County.

Deshaun Watson, Gainesville: Passed for 215 yards and three touchdowns against Salem.

Chance McClure, Commerce: Rushed for 158 yards against Athens Christian.

Jesse Griggs, Johnson: Rushed for 114 yards against Clarkston.

Jackson Strickland is in his comfort zone with the football in his hand and open field to the end zone in front of him.
“It’s just fun to get wide open spaces and just run.” Strickland said.

A tough season for Lakeview Academy has limited the Lions’ senior quarterback from getting wide open spaces. That came to an end against Cross Keys on Friday.

Strickland rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns, had 40 receiving yards and led Lakeview to its first win of the season, a 42-0 rout of the Indians at Jock Horner Field. For his efforts, he is The Times’ Football Player of the Week.

The victory ended a five-game losing streak for a Lions team that has battled inexperience and little depth after graduating 17 seniors from last year’s 6-2 team, a major hit for a small Class A program.

More importantly, it left Strickland — one of the few returning starters from 2012 — feeling confident about his team’s offense after a string of games pocked with issues scoring points. Before the win, Lakeview was averaging just 7.6 points per game.

“It feels tremendous, the best feeling I can have on a Friday night,” Strickland said. “The whole team, we all played very well Friday night.”

Lakeview’s offense finally clicked due in part to its three-quarterback offense. Strickland is listed as the team’s starter, but shares snaps with David Abee and Avonte Gober. Each player serves different roles in the pocket of the Lions’ triple-option formation.

When Abee or Gober are under center, Strickland still doesn’t leave the field, but instead stays in as a running back and catches backfield passes. One of his receptions Friday, from Abee, was good for 30 yards.

“Really, it doesn’t matter if he’s at quarterback, at running or wherever we got him, we’re just trying to get him as many touches as we can,” Lakeview coach Matthew Gruhn said. “He’s getting better every week, as our team is, and he’s coming through.”

Strickland also starts on defense as a safety, and contributes on special teams as well. As a result, there’s rarely a moment when the 5-foot-10, 160-pound team captain is on the sideline.

The Lions wouldn’t want it any other way.

“He’s a small guy, but he runs a lot bigger than he is,” Gruhn said. “He’s not 100 percent — he has bruised ribs and a knee that’s kind of iffy. But he plays like he’s 100 percent.

“He’s just one of those hard-nosed kids that’s going to give you everything he’s got.”

Playing in a non-region schedule, Lakeview is ineligible for the playoffs, leaving Strickland and his fellow seniors just three more games before their high school football careers are complete. That includes their final game in front of a home crowd this Friday, when the Lions host St. Francis. They then hit the road for a pair of favorable matchups against North Cobb Christian and Towns County to close out the season.

With the final stretch approaching, Strickland is aiming to save his best performances for last.

“It’ll be one of our toughest games this Friday night and just play ball,” he said. “We really want to win out, but we really just want to go out there and have good time, because it’s about over for us.”

Gruhn has no doubt his leading rusher has a few more big games left in him.

“Our team seems to be getting better, and we’ve kind of found some things he does really well on offense,” Gruhn said. “We’re giving him those opportunities, and he’s certainly taking advantage of them.”