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Friday, September 5, 2014

Nashua football player Demitri Jackson heads to Lawrence Academy

By GEORGE SCIONE

Staff Writer

Nashua High School North football coach Jason Robie finds himself in the same spot South coach Scott Knight did just one year ago.

In 2013, the Panthers had high hopes for receiver Tim Preston. This fall, the Titans were anticipating a monster year from senior running back Demitri Jackson. ...

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Nashua High School North football coach Jason Robie finds himself in the same spot South coach Scott Knight did just one year ago.

In 2013, the Panthers had high hopes for receiver Tim Preston. This fall, the Titans were anticipating a monster year from senior running back Demitri Jackson.

Instead, Jackson followed Preston’s lead to Lawrence Academy in Groton, Mass., where both reclassified as juniors and are reuniting on the football field with the Spartans.

Before reaching high school, the two were teammates in the Nashua PAL Force organization. That connection, and the friendship they’ve maintained despite being at rival schools, helped make up Jackson’s mind this summer.

“It definitely helps a lot coming into a new environment to have somebody you know,” said Jackson, whose academic scholarship and financial aid cover all expenses as a day student at the prep school. “Not only knowing him, but being a great friend, he helped me come in and feel like part of the family right away.”

Preston knows his presence and salesmanship likely reeled in Jackson to join him at Lawrence Academy, which participates in the Independent School League.

“I thought it would be a good choice for him athletically and academically,” said Preston, now in his senior year at LA where the 6-foot, 180-pounder plays football and basketball. “I think I sold him on the place right away.

“I know for me, last year was awesome. I just told him how amazing it is here and how much fun I had. I guess it’s the same thing he wanted for himself.”

A straight-A student, Jackson is excited to start the fall class schedule just as much as he is to take the field for LA’s season opener at 1 p.m., Sept. 20, against visiting Governor’s Academy of Byfield, Mass.

But it’s on the football field that he believes there will be a big difference this fall. At times Jackson felt the Titans’ straight-T formation kept him from getting out on the edge or in open space in key situations. He thinks that will change at LA.

“I don’t think my abilities were being featured as much at Nashua,” said the 6-2, 185-pounder, who will also play basketball in the winter and is still deciding between baseball and track in the spring. “Coach (Paul) Zukauskas told me he will be moving me around a lot between receiver and running back. I’m excited about that.”

Over at North, they’re not excited to see Jackson go, but like South the year before the Titans will move on with what they have and see where it takes them.

“I think just about every team in the state can say it’s going to be different when they lose their running back to graduation or whatever the case might be,” said Robie. “We are who we are. We have who we have. We believe in the guys we have.”

So does Jackson, who says he’ll be at as many Titans games as possible to cheer on his former teammates.

“I think they have a great group of guys,” Jackson said. “I’ll be rooting for them all season. Just because I’m not on the field with them doesn’t mean I’m not going to be there to support them.

“This was just a decision I felt was best for me for school first and athletically second. I was offered the opportunity to attend Lawrence Academy on scholarship and I couldn’t pass that up.”