Salesian continues emotional season into CIF-SS final
DEC 05, 2013 8:02a ET
His most recent venture took him to tiny Salesian High School to become the school's offensive coordinator under head coach Roddy Hiatt.
But 2013 brought about a situation the X's and O's he's spent his entire career formulating could not solve.
In August, Jackson was tabbed as the program's head coach as Hiatt had to step back in order to take on a bout with cancer.
"We were running the program all summer so it wasn't like anything changed until (the administration) said 'alright, you're the interim coach," said Jackson, who's worked with Hiatt for five seasons.
Despite the familiarity with Jackson and the rest of the staff, it didn't stop the Mustangs from going 0-2 out of the gate, including a 57-0 drubbing at the hands of then-LA City Section Division I hopeful, Venice.
That loss, regardless of how meaningful it was for Salesian's season, paled in comparison to the loss they would have off of the field the following month.
Defensive coordinator Dave Cervantes unexpectedly passed away in October.
"He ran five miles a day," Jackson said. "It was just one of them things that happened."
Cervantes came with Hiatt when he was hired by the school in 2009. The team has since dedicated the season to their fallen coach.
"He was really close with Coach Hiatt and he was close to the kids too," Jackson said. "He'd done a lot for us."
With a heavy heart, the Mustangs continued their season. Despite the emotional toll it took on the team, they didn't allow it to affect their play.
When the Mustangs take the field for their first CIF final appearance in school history, they'll do so as winners of 11 in a row.
Salesian (11-2) will host Mission College Prep (11-2) in the Northeast Division final on Saturday at 7 p.m. right here on FOXSportsWest.com Prep Zone.
They've been knocking on the door for the last few years. In three of the last four seasons, the Mustangs have unceremoniously had their season end in the CIF semifinals.
Led by a trio of Arizona commits -- defensive end Marquis Ware, linebacker Jarmardre Cobb and defensive back Rodney Carr -- Hiatt told FOXSportsWest.com in the summer of 2012 he believed that was the year the Mustangs knocked down the door and captured a CIF championship.
The opportunity to play for a championship took a little longer than expected, but here are the Mustangs, with heavy hearts.