High School Football

Taylor’s Jensen III lights up Morton Ranch in district-opening win

By Dennis Silva II | Sports Editor
Posted 10/10/20

As a kid, J Jensen III would stand in front of a mirror and practice calling out plays at the line of scrimmage.

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High School Football

Taylor’s Jensen III lights up Morton Ranch in district-opening win

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As a kid, J Jensen III would stand in front of a mirror and practice calling out plays at the line of scrimmage.

Jensen started playing 7-on-7 football in the second grade. Always a natural leader, he yearned to be the quarterback of his own team. When he was six years old, Jensen asked his father, coach J Jensen II, if he could scout football games with him.

“Ever since he was little, he’s really paid attention to detail,” said Jensen II, now assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Taylor High. “He was always close to the quarterbacks of all the teams that I coached, and he’d sit, watch film and listen to what stuff gave us trouble, either on offense or defense. He ate all that up.”

And now in his senior year, as the starting quarterback of a Taylor team with high expectations, Jensen III is putting it all together.

Jensen III was ridiculously efficient in leading the Mustangs to a 31-14 win over Morton Ranch in each team’s district opener on Saturday, Oct. 10, at Legacy Stadium. Jensen completed 15 of 17 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 34 yards and two more touchdowns on five carries, showing off a diligent offseason’s work that trimmed his 40-yard dash time from five seconds to 4.7.

“When you have the best O-line in the state, the game’s easy,” the humble Jensen III said. “And then you have a guy like (senior receiver Tyrone) Irving downfield … if it’s in his area, he’ll go get it. My halfbacks are running well. The receivers are running routes well. This is what happens.”

In three games this season, Jensen III, who only stands 5-foot-6 and 165 pounds, has completed 36 of 47 passes (76.6 percent) for 555 yards and four touchdowns to no interceptions for the 3-0 Mustangs. He also has not been sacked, which is partly due to an overwhelming offensive line—led by star prospects Bryce Foster and Hayden Conner, and veteran stalwarts Nolan Hay and Abraham Okezie—and partly due to Jensen II’s longtime emphasis of getting rid of the football as soon as the foot hits the ground.

“A lot of it is he’s a kid that’s a coach’s son,” Taylor head coach Chad Simmons said. “He grew up in football. From all the way back to when you’re a little kid and being around the game your entire life, knowing what all the caveats are that some kids are not likely to pick up on. Stuff like ball placement and knowing when to throw the ball away and not take a sack. Just playing smart.”

Against Morton Ranch, Jensen III completed his final 12 passes. Both of his touchdown passes went to Irving, an athletic sensation whose acrobatic pass-catching skills are worthy of ESPN.

“He’s the best quarterback in the country, in my opinion,” said Irving, who was remarkable in his own right with 195 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches. “I couldn’t ask for a better teammate. He’s always willing to listen to what I have to say. If I think something will work or have an idea of where to place the ball, he’s always listening.”

Jensen III said he missed a lot of reads last season, when he took over the team about midway through following an injury to the starter. During the summer, he and Jensen II spent long hours at Memorial Parkway Junior High working on throws and timing. Three-step drops, five-step drops, quick game. Anything and everything, Jensen III repped tirelessly with his dad.

At the program’s offseason strength and conditioning camp, Jensen III’s work on speed ladders and hurdles significantly improved his speed. It showed on two impressive runs of 12 and 17 yards, respectively, against Morton Ranch.

“It’s a lot of carryover from what he did last year,” Simmons said. “He’s a kid who’s a student of the game and works during the week. He takes care of business, so he’s continuing, as you’d expect, to improve. He’s seeing matchups, calling it and putting the ball on the money.”

 

SHORTER RETURNS

After missing the previous game against George Ranch on Oct. 1 and the last three quarters of the season opener against Cy-Springs, senior running back Casey Shorter was back in the starting lineup for Taylor against Morton Ranch.

Shorter, an Army commit, has been dealing with a hamstring issue. If he’s not at 100 percent, Simmons said, he’s close. Simmons went to Shorter on the first three plays from scrimmage to open the game.

Shorter finished with 19 yards on four carries and had two catches for nine yards.

“We were just glad to see him finish a game and not aggravate that injury again,” Simmons said. “It’s a tribute to him doing what we’re calling pre-hab, as far as keep getting treatment and keep doing what he’s supposed to do, and not stop doing it just because it’s healed.”

 

IRVING EXPLODES … AGAIN

After a breakout 115-yard receiving game against George Ranch on Oct. 1, Irving was even better against Morton Ranch.

He averaged 23.3 yards per catch, including a terrific dive of a 35-yard toss in the third quarter, and has scored three touchdowns in the last two games.

“My offensive line is giving me time and I’m able to do what I do,” Irving said. “I feel like people give me too much credit. People don’t understand it’s the offensive line that makes everything happen.”

 

JOHNSON MAKES DEBUT FOR MAVS

Morton Ranch sophomore quarterback Josh Johnson made his varsity debut late in the second quarter against Taylor.

Johnson, who replaced senior Jaymarcus Wilson, completed just two of 10 passes for 13 yards and an interception, but rushed for 24 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. His touchdown was a 10-yard run with 8:59 left in the game.

Sophomore running back Santana Scott paced the Mavs with 66 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Junior running back Karsten Christopher added 62 yards on 14 carries.

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