The last we saw of Don Jackson in this region was in the summer of 2011, when he rushed for a record 230 yards, including an 84-yard touchdown, in the annual Optimist All-Star Game at American River College.
But Jackson sidestepped some academic obligations at Laguna Creek High School, and it caught up to him.
As a senior in the fall of 2010, Jackson led Northern California with 2,305 rushing yards in the regular season. Washington State wanted to offer him a scholarship, but recruiters winced when reading his transcript. Jackson scrambled to graduate and headed to Iowa Western Community College, vowing a renewed academic focus and insisting, "You'll see me again."
As promised, here he comes, lining up at tailback for Nevada when the season opens Aug. 31 at UCLA.
The 5-foot-10, 210-pound Jackson backed up his pledge, earning his AA degree in December, then signing with Nevada in time for spring drills and emerging this summer as a starter. He has three years of eligibility remaining.
"I've come a long way," Jackson said.
Martinez on the move
Paul Martinez a longtime baseball coach at Mira Loma, San Juan, El Camino, Rosemont and Del Campo is switching sports. Fresh off a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship with Del Campo, Martinez has joined the Sacramento City College softball program as a lead assistant to Tim Kiernan.
"I'm excited, and I'm ready for a new challenge," said Martinez, who has coached ASA teams in recent summers. "It's such a great game. It's similar to baseball, of course, but it's also so different."
Around the region
Rob Cooper, who has coached baseball at El Camino and Sac City, has been hired as the Penn State coach. In his most recent job, Cooper coached Wright State (Ohio) to seven successive 30-win seasons. He also has been an assistant coach at Miami, Oral Roberts, Wake Forest and Tulane.
Jack Harnden, the defensive coordinator for Ponderosa's championship teams of the late 1970s and the first varsity coach at Oak Ridge, died Aug. 10 of lymphoma. He was 68.
Harnden assisted Travis Hatcher at Ponderosa when the Bruins won Division II championships in 1978 and 1979, and he built nearby Oak Ridge in El Dorado Hills into a playoff program after arriving in 1980. Harnden also assisted Oak Ridge coach Mark Watson in 1998, coaching a defense that was key to a Division II championship and 13-0 season.
Steve Green a longtime Vacaville coach, teacher and administrator died Aug. 9 of cancer. He was 56. A giant in many ways he was 6-8 and the most popular coach on campus Green played football at UC Davis in the 1970s before joining the staff at Vacaville, the only school for which he worked.
Green coached football and track and taught English for 32 years, often correcting the grammar of students in practice. He opened every fall by reciting Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech, and he rallied students during basketball games, booming, "Who ya rootin' for?"
American River College is ranked No. 10 nationally by JCgridiron.com. The Beavers return former Bee All-Metro defensive backs Ference Lang and James Sample of Grant and record-setting wide receiver Tyler Trosin of Folsom. ARC, 29-4 under coach Jerry Haflich in the past three seasons, plays its first home game Sept. 14 against Sac City.