Firebirds' Vick earns top offensive honor
Sheldon Vick | Special to The Enterprise
Southern Nash junior Jackson Vick (26) turns the corner on a run during a game against Rocky Mount on April 3 at Southern Nash. Vick was named 3-A Big East Conference Offensive Player of the Year by league coaches after running for 1,072 yards and 15 touchdowns in seven games this spring.
Jackson Vick stepped into the shoes left behind by former Southern Nash High teammates Zonovan “Bam” Knight and Quinton Cooley this season, and now the Firebirds junior halfback has the hardware to prove it.
Vick was named Offensive Player of the Year by 3-A Big East Conference head coaches after rushing for a league-best 1,072 yards and 15 touchdowns. This is the fifth straight season a Firebirds running back earned the league’s top offensive honor, with Cooley taking it in 2019, Knight in 2017 and 2018 and Kendrick Bell sharing it in 2016.
Unlike the others, however, Vick accomplished his season without the benefit of spring, summer or even fall practice because the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the start of the season to late February. Still, Vick demonstrated why he’s attracted more than eight offers from NCAA Division I programs.
“He showed that he is capable,” Firebirds head coach Brian Foster said. “I talked to him today and told him that I wish we could have had that time together to develop more — not just in the weight room, but mentally and everything. One good thing about him is that he is so young.”
Indeed, Vick has yet to see his 17th birthday, but he accounted for nearly half (46.5%) of Southern Nash’s rushing yardage, and his 144 carries were more than double the next leading rusher for the Firebirds in their double-wing scheme that usually relies on misdirection and multiple ball carriers.
“He had to carry the ball more than we normally like our guys to do,” Foster said.
Vick, who also caught a team-high five passes for 50 yards and averaged 37.2 yards on six kickoff returns, was one of the most dangerous players in the Big East due to his speed.
“He’s a person who could go all the way every time he touches the ball, and that’s something you have to respect,” Foster said.
If Vick did have a weak spot this season, it was too many fumbles, but Foster attributes that to lack of offseason preparation as Vick moved into the feature back role after complementing Cooley in 2019.
The Firebirds, who finished 3-4 overall and 3-2 and in second place behind Rocky Mount in the Big East, landed 10 selections on the all-conference team. Joining Vick were seniors Zollie Alford, Terrance Raspberry, Jalen McClaston, D.J. Johnson, Chason Royal and Xavien Smith, junior T.J. Taybron and sophomore Landen Baker.
Raspberry is the Firebirds’ only repeat All-Big East selection, while Alford attained an honorable mention in 2019.
Hunt, which finished 4-3 overall and 2-3 and fourth in the Big East, had eight all-conference selections: seniors John Edwards, Adam Strickland and Aundrey Loftin and juniors C.J. Joyner, Christian Nicholson, David Aranda, Timire King and Davon McKayhan. Joyner, who picked up an honorable mention as a junior, was second in the Big East in rushing with 912 yards. Repeaters on the elite unit are Strickland, Loftin and Nicholson. Lee Williams received an honorable mention.
Fike, which finished fifth despite winning the Wilson County Championship, placed seniors Jayleen Bullock, James Branch, Lamont Batts and Jaiquan King and junior Demari Daniels. Senior Tyrikk Hines netted honorable mention.
Rocky Mount, which finished 6-2 overall, went unbeaten in five Big East games, ending Southern Nash’s five-year run as conference champion. The Gryphons landed 12 selections on the elite unit, including senior Dar’savius Williams, the Defensive Player of the Year. The other Gryphons on the All-Big East team are Seallio Alphonsem Kobe Bunn, Cameron Jones, McKenly Hines-Williams, Stephon Jones, Isaiah Lee, Davion Lewis, Kerry Parker, Christian Pounds, Andrew Rollans and Justin Terry.
Northern Nash, which finished third, is represented by Sencere Battle, Thomas Engelking, Jayden Freeman, Jordan Hughes, Carson Jenkins, Keno Jones, Paul Powell, Donavan Simpson and Jordan Wooten.
Last-place Franklinton’s picks are Kenny Cornell, C.J. Dicker, Will German, Devin Patterson and Chris Simons.
The remaining honorable mentions went to Myles Powell of Rocky Mount, Jalen Brown of Northern Nash and Mike Sills of Franklinton. Rocky Mount’s Jason Battle is the conference champion coach.
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