Delton Jackson’s steak dinner will come eventually but the fact that he has missed out is both sad and insightful.
The Red Mountain senior linebacker saw his season come to an end three weeks ago in the final moments of a practice where no contact was involved.
His right knee was shredded. It’s so bad it has a name: unhappy Triad.
That’s when all three ligaments – medial collateral ligament, anterior collateral ligament and meniscus – are at least partially torn.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Red Mountain coach Mike Peterson said. “No contact. The end of practice. It’s not supposed happen like that. You feel for him.”
It meant the four-year starter and leader of the Mountain Lion defense has had to watch the last two games on the sidelines with the support of crutches.
It also meant he had to miss out on a Red Mountain tradition that started when Peterson was the defensive coordinator and expanded this year as the head coach.
Whenever Red Mountain beats Mountain View, as the Mountain Lions did on Oct. 6, the defensive players of the game from each unit, and their coaches, were treated to a steak dinner.
This year the captains, the players of the game on offense, defense, special teams and scout player of the week along with every coach and their wives were invited.
It was scheduled the night Jackson got hurt so he had to miss out. When Peterson told Jackson the two of them could do it the next week – Skyline week. East Valley Region championship week – his leader declined.
The timing wasn’t right. A championship was on the line. The focus needed to be on the Coyotes; not a slab of beef.
“It didn’t want to take anything away from preparation,” Jackson said. “We all had to concentrate on game and I didn’t want it to be a distraction.”
Losing Jackson, who started two games as a freshman, has weakened the Mountain Lion defense even though it hasn’t showed up on the scoreboard yet. As they move deeper into the postseason, his leadership and his 10 tackles a game will be missed.
But not as much as Jackson misses being on the field. It can be seen in his face while the team is competing. He is there in support, but it is hard.
“I want to be out there, and I can’t be,” he said. “It’s frustrating. My guys are battling, and I am on the sideline.”
The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder isn’t guaranteed of playing again. Rehab is going to be difficult and he doesn’t have a college offer yet despite being a playmaker all over the field.
While he will never suit up again for Red Mountain, the impression he has left on this team is indelible.
His blocked punt against Gilbert was a turning point in the season. The game was tied. He crashed the middle to block a punt and suddenly the Mountain Lions led 21-14 after trailing 14-7 at the half.
It will probably go down as his signature moment this season.
Jackson and Peterson can reminisce about it when they finally sit down for that steak dinner.
– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to email@example.com.