With a new coach, a high turnover rate of starters and an adjusted offensive approach from a year ago, the Mankato West Scarlets went through a series of changes leading up to the 2017 season.
Despite all the changes, the Scarlets had another great season that ended with the program back in the state tournament. One thing that did not change for the program was the steady play of lineman Zachary Jakes. Jakes helped anchor both the offensive and defensive lines with his experience and his versatility.
“I think a lot of people had doubts because we lost so many seniors last year. We had to find our identity throughout the summer,” Jakes said. “We came in with a young quarterback and a new head coach. Last year we were a running team, and this year we were more of a balanced offensive team.”
Jakes had plenty of experience to lean on his senior year. The team was able to lean on him too.
“I felt I did a good job filling my roles and had a pretty good year. I have been playing (on varsity) on both sides of the ball since sophomore year, so I was used to most game situations.”
A tackle on offense, Jakes played both sides of the offensive line.
“Where I lined up depended on the play and who was lining up on the other side against us. I was usually on the play side of the ball.”
Jakes had to know both offensive tackle spots.
“I had to memorize the whole playbook,” NFN's 80th-ranked senior said. “I had to rep everything twice and work a little bit harder to know each side of the ball.”
Jakes is far from the biggest offensive tackle in the state.
“I have fast feet. My quickness and ability to get off the ball helped me against defensive linemen.”
Defensively he played the strong-side defensive end.
“Like offense, I use my quickness off the ball, but my wrestling background helped too,” the 6'0″ 250-pound senior said. “Hand fighting and being able to know people's leverage and how to use my body against an offensive lineman helped me this year.”
Last season Jakes placed second in the Class AA state tournament in the 220-pound class. This year he has moved up to heavyweight and despite a late start because of football All-Star games, as of this interview, he is undefeated at 13-0.
“My strength is the mental part of wrestling; just knowing how to prepare myself before matches is a huge key for me. I am good on my feet with my takedowns.”
This spring Jakes will be spending his time in the weight room getting ready for college football.
“I need to work on my technique more. I need to work on my footwork and my hand fighting.”
Jakes has some interest from the DII and DIII levels – mainly as a defensive player.
“Recruiting has been a good experience,” Jakes told NFN. “I learned a lot about other colleges and a lot about myself as a person. It is a once in a lifetime experience and has been great so far.”
Jakes has an offer from Winona State and has interest from Gustavus.
“I think they like how much I have been around football,” Jakes said. “I was on a state championship team my freshman year and being a three-year starter they like my experience. They like that I have been a team captain for two years and that I have that leadership inside me.”
Wherever Jakes ends up going to school next year he has plenty of experience dealing with change. A new level of football and a new scheme should be no problem for the two-sport athlete.