Harris makes big plays as Tornadoes romp of Start

PHOTO BY STEVE WILLIAMS Jaxon Harris strides over a Start defenders on a touchdown reception in the first quarter Friday in Tiffin.

On a team with a seemingly endless amount of offensive playmakers, Columbian’s Jaxon Harris is starting to stand out.

The junior receiver made three catches in Friday’s game against Start, but turned two of them into long touchdowns as the Tornadoes rolled over the Spartans, 48-0.

Harris had touchdown receptions of 37 and 51 yards — each coming from quarterback Chase Frankhauser — sandwiched around a 12-yard catch.

Harris finished with 100 receiving yards.

“He was in a good position to make some plays, and made them,” Columbian coach Judd Lutz said. “Obviously a team effort, Chase delivering the ball on time, accurately, and then yards after catch really big for us tonight.”

Lutz said it has been a journey for Harris, who was pressed into action on the defensive side of the ball at safety last season when Frankhauser was hurt.

“Had a little tougher time in the perimeter last year on offense as a sophomore,” Lutz said. “And then (he) dedicated himself in the weight room, getting in the playbook, earning the trust of his coaches and teammates to do the right thing, and is off to a really good start and an outstanding year. He’s a kid who’s really special right now.”

And it isn’t just the receptions. Lutz said Harris made a big block on Nick Koerper’s 41-yard punt return for a touchdown, and has done a solid job at linebacker.

“Doing some great things defensively, as an outside linebacker and being really tough to block in space, and making noise,” Lutz said, “and then offensively, having him and Koerper in the slot — a long with a number of guys — but they’ve been targets at key times.”

In Koerper’s punt return, Lutz also singled out a play by Frankhauser, helping to spring the electric Koerper for a score.

“It’s not just one guy on something like that, and sure enough, it wasn’t,” Lutz said.

Columbian also got touchdown runs from Nick “Tugboat” Jackson of four and seven yards. Jackson finished with nine carries for 61 yards.

“I thought we established the run early, even though (Start) had a lot of guys up in the box, and that was really big,” Lutz said of the ground game. “Ran really hard, blocked it really, really well schematically.”

Jackson’s cousin, Kesean Jackson, also got into the act. He ran five times for 78 yards, rumbling for a 17-yard score and adding a 47-yard TD run in the final seconds of the first half.

“Tug’s been running like a grown man, and then KeSean Jackson ripped a couple long ones, too,” Lutz said. “They’re very similar. They’re related for a reason. A similar running style, and they’re a great 1-2 combo.”

Meanwhile, the Tornadoes’ defense continued to click. Drake Devore and Kasean Hatlay each dropped Start quarterback Jeremiah Beringer for sacks, and Start managed only 109 yards of total offense.

“We had a good idea of what blitzes and stunts might work,” Lutz said. “Defensive staff did a great job, and the kids executed very, very well.”

So the Tornadoes head into next week’s non-conference road game with Vermilion undefeated. The Tornadoes are 4-0 against teams that — coming into Friday — had one combined win.

Things certainly will get tougher when the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division schedule starts Oct. 4 at Sandusky.

But Vermilion is 0-4.

“We can’t control that,” Lutz said. “We can only control how we prepare and practice, and that’s what I’m most proud about. We’re having way better practices than not.”