The last thing Steven Jackson wanted to do Friday was watch a football game. The Wolves junior running back had watched enough football due to an early-season ankle injury.
If Jackson were watching Friday, that meant he wasn’t participating in the 5A Division I semifinals between Chandler and Mesa Mountain View at Tempe McClintock.
And without him, Chandler's chances against the top-seeded Toros would take a serious hit.
He was back for awhile.
On Chandler’s first series, he took an inside handoff, bounced outside and ran 62 yards for the game’s first touchdown.
But he wasn't able to do much more.
With 73 yards rushing under his belt, Jackson injured the same left ankle that had bothered him for much of the season early in the second quarter.
“When I got tackled my foot got caught up in the chains and then someone landed on it,’’ Jackson said. “I tried to get up, but I couldn’t put any pressure on it. I was hoping I wasn’t done.’’
Jackson, who limped back to the Chandler bench, was never the same. On his first play after having his ankle taped by the Chandler training staff, he didn’t have enough speed to get around the left corner of the line of scrimmage and was tackled by the Toro defense.
After watching that, Chandler coach Jim Ewan kept his running back out of the action for most of the second half.
“He just wasn’t back where he was for us,’’ Ewan said. “That hurt us, but we have other backs.’’
Jackson played in parts of eight games this season and finished the year with 769 yards. It was his exceptional speed that helped Jackson avoid opposing defenses like the Toros this season. With the injury on Friday, he became limited in ways he could help Chandler move the football.
“It was exciting these last few games having Steven back,’’ Ewan said. “When we have him that definitely impacts what we can do offensively.’’
With Jackson out, Ewan said the Wolves slightly changed their game plan. Chandler looked to quarterback Kyle Hess to throw the football in an attempt to move down the field.
“We couldn’t get our running game going,’’ Hess said. “He’s one of the best running backs in the state. We had to try and get over that.’’