Freshman Jordan Houston dominates on the football field

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Photo Credit: Victor O'Neil Studios

Jordan Houston makes another successful play.

Freshman running back, Jordan Houston idly waits. One by one, upperclassmen prudently saunter passed him, giving him reassuring nod each time. This pregame process is more than just a formality for Houston. He embraces the chemistry between his teammates and the rituals that they share.

“Right before the game, Verbanic… hypes us up,” said Houston, referring to the head varsity football coach, “We end up banging our helmets on the locker room floor and chanting.”

As a first-year starter on the boys varsity football team, Houston is not accustomed to being patient. In his first high school year, he became the immediate starter at running back for the boys varsity football team.

“The main jump between varsity football and eighth grade football, in [Houston’s] case, is that the speed of the game changes dramatically,” said junior and teammate Gage Herdman. “[Houston] impressively shows that he can play at and above the varsity speed and this separates him from most running backs we have faced this season.”

Houston believes that his tireless effort since early childhood has allowed him to reach success this year.

“I have been training for football and track since I [was] five years old,” he said. “This training has conditioned my mind and body to be able to play with and against boys three and four years older than me.” 

Verbanic credits Houston’s approach to the sport from the first day of practice to now.

“Jordan has learned how to have great work ethic in practice and he has taken the ability he has to learn schemes and defenses and put it to good use,” he said.

For most freshmen, walking onto a field with hundreds watching would prove to be daunting and terrifying– not for Houston; despite his introversion, he has a confidence and composure in his abilities that separates him from the rest of his age group.

“Even though he doesn’t have much to say, we respect him because he makes plays and backs up his starter status with his confidence and production in the run game,” said Herdman.

On the field, Houston is surrounded by players larger and more experienced than him, but this does not faze him. Even though being tackled by senior lineman is nothing similar to anything he has experienced before, Houston uses his size disadvantage as motivation to strive for success. 

“It is no fun being hit by a 250 pound defensive lineman,” said Houston, “But I always give 100% during practices and games to make up for what I do not have in height or experience.”

Senior and teammate Ben Cross believes that Houston’s ferocity on the field is the foundation for the team’s success.  

“He leads [the team] through his play and fearlessness,” said Cross. “Jordan is a very mature kid who has done a great job making the transition to the high school level.”

Verbanic believes that his success should also be assigned to his offensive teammates and senior leaders. 

“Our seniors have been the true leaders and have shown Jordan how to do things the right way,” said the coach. “Jordan has responded by having a very good work ethic.”

Even as he finishes his preparations for the game, Houston emphasizes one tradition that is necessary for his sanctity: religion. 

“[I] pray and filter everything out of my mind except for the game and how we are going to do our best,” said Houston,”When we are done, I pray some more on my own.”

On the field, Houston is remembered as a force to be reckoned with, but what is not recognized is his determination to strive off it. He may not be the extroverted leader that speaks out at any given chance to motivate his teammates, but his devotion and hard work to being a student-athlete display his true character.

“Off the field, I try to be a leader by staying out of trouble and trying my hardest in school,” said Houston. “I am working hard to get ready for college.”

Finally his time arrives. Houston rises and strides down the winding staircase to the grass green pasture where he showcases his talent on a weekly basis. The 5’8 freshman has already amassed more than 1300 yards through only seven games.  As the ball is propelled in the air and the game begins, Houston phlegmatically trots onto the field in attempt to continue his newest ritual: success.