Although the 2017 6A title game went the way of the Eden Prairie, the most memorable moment in the game was the Hail Mary catch turned in by Minnetonka’s Jackson Owens at the end of the first half.
It was the best moment in the junior’s season.
The 2017 football season was one of the best in recent Skippers’ history. The team went 7-1 in the regular season and advanced to the state championship game. A major factor – especially during the second half of the season – was the play of Owens. The junior is getting major college recruiting interest and is primed for a big senior year.
“It was one of the best seasons I have ever been a part of,” Owens said. “Everybody worked hard in the off-season. During the season everybody was focused; everybody knew what the goal was and didn’t take their eyes off the prize.”
When the Skippers played well, Owens felt the guy delivering the ball was the key.
“Aaron (Syverson) – the things he can do and the things he can see are just crazy. Defensively we were especially good up front.”
Owens felt what he learned during his junior season was more valuable than any of the numbers he put up.
“I learned a lot. That is the number one thing you can do is learn and progress as a football player. I learned more about the game, how to study, how to get better and how to make teammates better.”
By midseason, Owens started to come into his own.
“I got into a rhythm. I had a great person ahead of me. Owen Freeze was a senior – I learned a lot from him.”
Owens lined up all over the field – even motioning out of the backfield.
“I like to block for my teammates. At the end of the day when I catch the ball they are blocking for me, so you have to return the favor. I am a bigger receiver and have some speed too, so I can get you down the field or can hold my own with the linebackers.”
Owens has focused on getting separation from defensive backs this off-season.
“I have been working on creating space. If you run a 4.6 or 5.0 forty, you still have to create space to give the quarterback a chance to get you the ball. I have been working on my technique, my route running, and my footwork.”
Owens has been getting in the weight room mainly to improve his quickness and footwork. His off-season dedication is also a way to influence the younger Skippers’ players.
“Coming in as a senior I want the younger kids to be able to come to me and ask me questions. I want to be able to point them in the right direction. When I was younger, I loved when the older kids helped me and didn’t try to boss me around. I am going to try to do the things for the younger kids that I liked when I was coming up.”
This summer Owens is planning on attending camps at Northern Iowa, Iowa, Minnesota and Mississippi State. He was invited to all the home Gophers’ games and got gameday invites from South Dakota State.
In 2017 Owens had a memorable close to the season. Sure to be in the mix from day one in 2018 – Owens will have plenty of chances to make an impact right off the bat.