It wasnít the hot start he had become accustomed to, but under the lights at Madison Park on Saturday night, Jermal Brevard-Jackson led the Cathedral football team to victory. Locked in a battle with Catholic Central Small rival Pope John Paul II of Hyannis, the Panther quarterback rushed 23 times for 143 yards and a touchdown, but his most meaningful play came through the air. With his team trailing 22-20 in the fourth quarter, Brevard-Jackson found wide receiver Justice Turner for the game-winning, 25-yard touchdown pass as the Panthers held on for a 26-22 win over Pope John Paul II.
In the fourth edition of First & 10, the 5-foot-6 junior from Roslindale talks about Jim Brown, AC/DC, and the impact of his older brother, Tariq.
Your team had a huge win under the lights against Pope John Paul II of Hyannis this weekend. You had a big hand it. Talk a little bit about that win.
I have to admit that, at first, I was struggling a lot. I almost lost a fumble, I wasnít throwing really good passes, and I wasnít running how everyone expected me to run. I pulled it out in the second half. My linemen came and talked to me and said that the game plan is for me to dominate. They noticed I wasnít running the same way I had the three games before that, and just wanted to know what was going through my head. They talked to me and said Ďweíre all behind you, man. We have trust in you. We need you to lead us on the offensive side, and weíve got you on defense.í I took their advice and stepped up.
Cathedral has had a couple of pretty successful years, going 23-3 over the past two years and starting 4-0 this season. Whatís made Cathedral so good?
It starts with the coaching first. When I came [to Cathedral], Cathedral wasnít really a good football team. When [Coach Duane Sigsbury] came here, he brought the team together as a family, like a big group of brothers. Weíve developed relationships together and he put trust in us to be a successful football team. That trust has let out onto the field. We have a nice chemistry with each other. That dominates the whole game.
Youíre the signal caller on offense. Whatís the relationship like between you and Coach Sigsbury?
Itís actually a good relationship. Coach Sigs really likes my style of running, and when I stepped up sophomore year, he didnít really like me running stretch and sweep. [Coach Sigsbury] likes me in my element, and thatís running between the tackles. When I run through the tackles, I dominate. With a full head of steam, he tells me to lower my shoulder and run through everybody. Thatís what I do, and he likes it.
Cathedralís a private school, so where do you come from?
Do you have any pregame rituals? Are you superstitious about eating a certain meal or listening to a specific song?
Actually yes, I do. [Laughs] Every game I wear my Batman under armor, and I have Batman under armor gloves that I sometimes wear and I have Batman socks that I wear under my white socks. I use them for good luck.
So itís safe to say youíre a Batman fan?
[Laughs] Yeah, Iím a huge Batman fan. I listen to a lot of AC/DC before a game, too.
Whatís your favorite AC/DC song?
ĎShoot to Thrillí or ĎThunderstruck.í
Who is your favorite athlete?
I like Jim Brown a lot. We have a similar style of running. Heís straight power running. Everybody likes the fast guy. The fast guy is the cool guy, but nobody really pays attention to the power back because everybody likes speed. I wanted to try something different. I wanted to be a power back, so I gained weight, worked out a lot, got my strength up because I wanted to be like Jim Brown.
You wear No. 10. Is there any significant meaning behind the number?
Actually, yes. There was a No. 10 before me named Antonio Thomas. He actually said that I should wear his number. We played the exact same way. We had a similar style of running, and we were kind of like the same person, so he basically passed it down to me.
You still have two years left, but when you do graduate, will you make it into a tradition? Do you plan on passing down your number to someone on the team?
Of course. I put a lot of work in the jersey. Iíve stepped up in big situations. Iíd like to pass it to someone who will step up and take the next spot as starting quarterback or starting running back.
Do you have any hobbies outside of Cathedral? What do you do in your free time?
I babysit my sister a lot. Thatís my top priority. And I like to cook, watch football, play video games, and I work out with my brothers a lot.
Whatís your go-to meal? If you were asked to cook your best meal, what is it?
I think I can make the best French toast.
Who do you look up to? Who is a source of inspiration for you?
Itís actually my brother [Tariq, who attends the University of Dubuque]. Heís actually the main person, besides my mom, who is pushing me to get somewhere in football. He was a big basketball player until he hurt himself. Colleges didnít want him after he got hurt, so with him losing his dream, he doesnít want to see me lose mine. At first, he didnít know how good of a player I was until he heard my name in the news or in the newspaper somewhere.
He actually came to my first game Saturday night. [After the game] he was telling me, Ď you have a gift. Follow your dreams.í He promised me that if I followed my dreams, football would have an impact in my life.
Jermal Brevard-Jackson is a hearty name. Do you have a nickname?
Yeah, itís Jerm.
And youíre okay with that?
Youíre only a junior, but have you given any thought to what youíd like to do post-Cathedral?
Not really. I have a lot of ideas of what I want to do thatís interesting and new and somewhat unique. Like, I want to go to school for cooking, study marine biology, study zoology. I want to be an actor or a comedian or something.
I can cook really well and I like football, so Iím staying on those two to see which one I want to do, and I love animals, too. But I have no idea what I want to do after Cathedral.
Weíll end it with a football question. You guys are off to a 4-0 start as defending Super Bowl champions. How would you like the rest of your career here at Cathedral to pan out?
I want to make it to another Super Bowl. A lot of people think that Cathedral lost all their linemen and all its seniors from last year, and that it probably wonít make it [to the Super Bowl] again. The statement was Saturday night. Pope John was a really good game, and in that game, I think we made a statement to every other team in the league that Cathedral can get it done, that Cathedral is at the top, and that teams should watch out for Cathedral.
We didnít know how the line situation was or who the quarterback was going to be [coming into the season], but we saw the big picture, and saw in scrimmages that we were getting the job done. I felt that if we beat Pope John, that we could potentially beat every team in the league. I know that my teammates are behind me and that I can lead them to another Super Bowl.
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