Category: Outside The Box

Nearly a week later, Malik Jackson's letterman jacket press conference still resonates

When Malik Jackson signed with the Philadelphia Eagles shortly after the official opening of the 2019 NFL league year, he made a point to eschew the normal press conference attire for his actual high school letterman’s jacket. The point was simple and straightforward, as Jackson noted himself:
“This is my high school letterman jacket,” Jackson said during his news conference. “I wanted to show the kids that hopefully they can be up here some day and make their dreams come true.”
Message received. Jackson is a graduate of Birmingham High School in Los Angeles, where he was both a football and track star; among a host of honors, Jackson was Los Angeles Daily News All-Area Co-Defensive MVP after his senior season.

Malik Jackson wearing his high school letterman jacket, wants to show those back in LA they can get to this point: pic.twitter.com/Vimq6NUx7q
— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) March 13, 2019
For Jackson, the signing of a new, massive $30 million deal is a signal that he made it, and that he’s still there. In a place like his Los Angeles, where his true roots lie, that’s a direct statement of empowerment, both economic and cultural. Jackson represents success and a concerted tie back to his roots.

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That speaks volumes in Los Angeles. It speaks volumes in Philadelphia, and it speaks volumes throughout the youth football community.
Funny what a difference a little gesture can make sometimes, isn’t it?

Investigation finds Tenn. baseball booster club overcharged student athletes $1000s

A Tennessee high school finds itself in the unwanted crosshairs of a state comptroller after an investigation revealed that the school’s booster club had overcharged each of its student-athletes some $400 per person for their participation as a member of the varsity baseball program.
As reported by the Daily Memphian, the Collierville (Tenn.) Schools baseball booster club charged students a total of $2,100 when only a total of $1,700 — $100 across the board as participation fee and an additional approved $1,600 baseball fee — was ever approved by the school board.
The booster club is designed to help defray the cost of coaches and uniforms for teams, but in this case is alleged to have deposited the surplus fees into the booster club’s account rather than the schools, with those totals potentially swelled by incomplete accounting of the program’s concession stand revenues.
While there is allegedly a board structure of the booster club aimed at preventing a similar mishap occurring, that doesn’t mean that the Collierville booster club will escape penalties for what has already transpired.
The results of the comptroller’s investigation were first released publicly March 12, but there has yet to be any further information about the timing of any prospective resolution of the issue.

Pittsburgh high school sophomore sets new Penn. state record in 100 breaststroke

Joshua Matheny is only a sophomore for the Upper St. Clair High School (Pittsburgh) swimming team, but he’s already making a name for himself in the pool.
Matheny set a new state record in the 100 yard breaststroke during the Pennsylvania AAA state championship meet, clocking an official time of 52.52. The time was also instantly good for third-best all-time according to the swimming website SwimSwam.
As it turns out, Matheny actually broke the 100 breast mark twice at the state meet, first topping the existing mark of 53.67 by three-hundredths of a second.
Breaking an all-time record twice at a single meet is notable in itself, but Matheny’s accomplishment was made more so by the swimmer whose time he topped to reach the top of the list: 6-time U.S. Olympian Brendan Hansen.
You can see Matheny’s dominant, record-setting performance below. Suffice to say, if he keeps progressing, he may very well reach some of the same heights Hansen has in his illustrious career.

@swimswamnews Josh Matheny 100 yd. Breast NFHS Record 52.52 pic.twitter.com/1ww8THXKIl
— William Leyland (@WilliamLeylan01) March 17, 2019

Thunderstorm downburst completely wrecks Northern Kentucky dugout

A Northern Kentucky baseball dugout was thoroughly wrecked by a weather phenomenon known as a thunderstorm downburst. The result left a high school program in disarray and needing extra help from the community to get their facility in working order for the season.
In an intriguing twist, the damage to the dugout occurred precisely as one of the program’s former managers was being laid to rest.
As reported by Cincinnati ABC affiliate WCPO, the Conner High School baseball dugout was struck by a dangerous downburst on Thursday night, at approximately the same time that former Conner team manager Dallas Willoughby was being laid to rest following his sudden death in March.
“It’s Dallas’s last gift to Conner baseball,” Conner coach Brad Arlinghaus told WCPO. “We’ll get a new dugout out of it. He was up there, he was working for us. He knew how bad our dugouts were.”
Apparently so did the community, which rapidly rallied around the Conner program in a time of need. According to the coach, multiple people in the community came forward and offered to rebuild the dugout within four days so it could be ready before the team’s season opener.
And that’s the one silver lining to Conner’s sudden disaster: The team claims it needed another dugout. And now it could very well get one.

Conner High school’s baseball dugout has been destroyed from the recent storm. Any help or donations would be [email protected] pic.twitter.com/FWlwNnQWoZ
— Ethan Hite (@Ethan_Hite44) March 14, 2019

Under the radar, 280 high school seniors earned college scholarships as golf caddies

There’s a national high school sports scholarship that falls far below the traditional radar, whether it can even be considered a bona fide athletic scholarship.
As reported by the Denver Post, some 13 seniors across Colorado are headed to the University of Colorado in the fall as recipients of the Chick Evans scholarship, a program that provide four years of housing and tuition at 18 universities across the country for students who are recognized as excellent caddies and want to use their skills in college, whether as golf caddies or in other pursuits.
We’ve covered the Chick Evans program here at USA TODAY High School Sports before, but it’s worth reemphasizing just how unique the scholarships are.
A release from the Chick Evans program indicates that the scholarship program will reward a grand total of 280 scholarships across the country for the 2019 graduating class.
While 280 may seem like a relatively insignificant number, it’s no small feat for a relatively overlooked population that can have a major impact on a high school or college team. As the Post showcased, one of the award’s Colorado recipients is Cherry Hills Country Club caddy Carmen Garcia, a St. Mary’s Academy (Cherry Hills, Colo.) graduate who will now attend Colorado on the back of both his caddying expertise and academic skill.
“With a college education, I want to set an example for Latinas that come after me,” Garcia told the Post. “I want to rise up individually and inspire other Latinas to pursue a college education.”
She isn’t alone, even if most of the country hasn’t noticed they exist until now.

VIDEO: The Opening Regionals faceoff between WR Demond Demas and DB Faizal Akinlusi was epic

Want to see something fun? This is what happens when you pit two top athletes against each other with something on the line.
First, the backdrop: As documented here, Demond Demas is one of the most talented wide receiver prospects in the Class of 2020. The Tomball (Texas) High wideout is a five-star prospect, a Texas A&M commit and a flat-out baller who competes on every route in every practice.
Enter Faizal Akinlusi. A fellow Houston-area stud, though not ranked as highly as Demas, Akinlusi still shutdown the higher-wattage star in their first drill together at The Opening South Texas Regional in Houston.
Then Demas did something almost unheard of on a stage like that: He demanded the route be run again.

DB (@faaiiz15): Wins the first rep.
WR (@DemondDemas1): "LINE IT BACK UP THEN!"
Some good battles goin' on out here in Houston pic.twitter.com/DemDLXxdyc
— The Opening (@TheOpening) March 17, 2019

The result the second time around ended up in Demas’ favor, as you can see in the video directly above. That was courtesy an almost spot perfect route from the receiver and his trademark fight for the ball.
Still, the biggest and most touching takeaway may have been the respect both players showed for one another as they got up off the turf following the second run.
This is as good as drills can get. One player with nothing to lose (Akinlusi) throwing his full talent and ambition to the wind and hoping for the best. Another player with everything to lose competing as if he was the underdog, because he simply doesn’t care.
From start to finish, the brief encounter reinforced Demas’ potential greatness and it may have helped put Akinlusi more firmly on a national (or at least a regional) radar. That’s full credit to both players.

VIDEO: Oak Cliff Faith Family wins Texas high school basketball title on walk-off dunk

One of the more exciting finishes to a high school basketball state title game came in a surprisingly small classifications.
With the Texas Class 4A state championship game somehow knotted at 51 — Oak Cliff Faith Family Academy, from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, had entered as significant favorites — Faith Family got one more chance to win the game and regulation.
With 20 seconds remaining after Liberty Hill knotted the game on a layup, Faith Family brought the ball up the floor and worked the clock. With the final seconds ticking away, a drive to the lane opened up a backdoor, baseline cut from freshman forward Jordan Walsh, who received a spot perfect pass, elevated and flushed home a game and state-title winning dunk as the final tenths of a second expired.

OMG!!!!! 4A state
Freshman Jordan Walsh buzzer beating DUNK @OnlyJWalsh
Faith Family 53, Liberty Hill 51#SCtop10 @ESPNAssignDesk pic.twitter.com/4rlXGveW0u
— Hoopinsider.net (@hoopinsider) March 10, 2019

Game, set, match and title, Faith Family. 53-51.
Here’s another look:

Game winning dunk!!! @uiltexas @hoopinsider Oak Cliff Faith Family vs Liberty Hill 4a state championship!!! pic.twitter.com/JMKAeTRovL
— Ryan Carrington (@nupesolo) March 10, 2019

“I feel on top of the world. I feel like I’m the man,” Walsh told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram after the game, which was played in San Antonio’s Alamodome. “Glad my teammates made it available for me.”
They made it available, but the 6-foot-6, 175-pound first year breakout star absolutely made it his, slamming home the season’s most decisive points with authority.
“Just like we drew it up, right,” Faith Family coach Brandon Thomas told the Star-Telegram. “I can’t even believe we’ve done it. To win it in that fashion, it’s unreal. It’s a story-book ending.”
And if there was any question that the coaching didn’t end at the final whistle, here’s Thomas, consoling a Liberty Hill player after the hard fought loss:

FINAL: Oak Cliff Faith Family 53, Liberty Hill 51. Freshman Jordan Walsh with the dunk at the buzzer to win it. Nice moment with Oak Hill coach Brandon Thomas consoling a Liberty Hill player. #UILState pic.twitter.com/kVikimKsR5
— Matt Young (@Chron_MattYoung) March 10, 2019

Will the walk-off dunk prove to be the most dramatic finish of a state title game in 2019? It’s certainly in contention, and the crowd reaction will be awfully hard to beat.

N.C. high school RB Sincere Davis recovering after being shot in apartment complex

The starting running back of a North Carolina high school football team is recovering in hospital after being shot at a local apartment complex on Saturday.
As reported by North Carolina NBC affiliate WXII, Page High School (Greensboro, N.C.) senior Sincere Davis was shot at an apartment complex on Saturday. It’s unknown why Davis was at the complex around 6 p.m. when the incident occurred.
Davis remains in “a fight for his life” at Moses Cone Hospital, where he was transported immediately after being shot. According to the Greensboro News & Record, an investigation into the shooting is ongoing, but there are currently no suspects in the case.
Meanwhile, Davis’ family has begged the public for privacy, thanking it for well wishes but emphasizing that it needs everyone to respect the family’s privacy.

"Sincere is critically ill and at this time the family must devote its full attention to him," say the parents of Page High's Sincere Davis in a statement, https://t.co/7FHrXTJI0T
— News & Record (@NewsandRecord) March 6, 2019

“The show of support over the last few days — especially from his fellow students — has been especially heartwarming,” read a statement to the News & Record from Davis’ parents, Darnell and Tasha Davis. “Thank you for understanding and for the friendship and love that you continue to show Sincere.”

Supporting our pirate Sincere Davis in the game tonight Continuous thoughts and prayers for Sincere and his family #26 pic.twitter.com/aRvKfyjfKK
— page womens soccer (@Pagewsoccer) March 6, 2019

Davis is still scheduled to attend Guilford College in the fall, assuming he successfully recovers from the incident.

VIDEO: Watch Virginia high school star DeMarr McRae self-assist on thunder dunk

The Virginia state basketball semifinals and finals are ongoing, and we may already have the highlight of the title round.
During John Marshall High School’s (Richmond, Va.) Virginia Class 3 state semifinal against Phoebus (Va.) High School, Marshall found itself chasing the game when it pulled away a steal near its own defensive perimeter.
Senior DeMarr McRae immediately popped out ahead on the break, ready for an outlet pass. He got the pass, somehow turned a dribble into a pitch perfect bounce assist, then threw down a monster slam.

Finished it with something EXTRA (via @Nathan_Epstein) pic.twitter.com/qpqr2EC4uK
— Overtime (@overtime) March 7, 2019

It was a touchstone moment in Newport News, with McRae seemingly putting Marshall on path to a spot in the state title game.
Instead, it wasn’t to be. Phoebus pulled out the back-and-forth contest, in overtime, 74-71. The loss ended McRae’s high school career.
At least he went out with a bang.

VIDEO: Seventh grader Jada Kenner wins N.Y. high school 300m title, sets age world record

To say that seventh grader Jada Kenner had a big Saturday is an understatement.
Kenner, a 12-year-old at The Tapestry Charter School, competed with her school’s team at the New York State high school championship indoor track meet. Lining up in her best event, the 300 meter sprint, she burst out of the gate and raced to a state title … and a world record for her age in the process.
“I didn’t know how to process it at first. Like, I started crying and I was very happy and then I started crying again and then I started smiling it was like, very complicated,” the diminutive Kenner told Buffalo ABC affiliate WKBW.
Incredibly, the record-setting sprint was just one of two records earned by the teen at the meet on Staten Island; she also ran a leg of the school’s record-setting 4×200 relay.

Jada Kenner of Tapestry wins 300m dash state championship! #NYSPHSAA pic.twitter.com/owfUUnRoBx
— NYSPHSAA (@NYSPHSAA) March 2, 2019

According to the teen, the Olympics is her ultimate goal. She has another two years to reach that goal, and her times already would put her on course to at least be in contention.
A ninth grader at the Olympics? Don’t laugh, it could happen. Kenner is just that fast, and progressing every day.

Watch Jada Kenner win a NYS Championship in the 300m. She’s the fastest girl in New York State in the 300 meter running a season best 39.24!!!#GoThunderhawks!!!! @MileSplitNY @bufnewspreptalk pic.twitter.com/YZ2CA4aCn3
— Tapestry Charter (@TapestryCharter) March 2, 2019