QB Dawson Jaco leads undefeated Bushland into top 10 matchup with Dumas
Five weeks ago, junior quarterback Dawson Jaco had never started a game as quarterback for the Bushland Falcons. Sure, the multi-sportsman made his name known to Bushland fans after posting a 5-1 record on the mound with a .405 batting average in baseball last spring
But this challenge was different.
The junior stepped into a role as the new leader of a multi-year, high-octane offense that puts a lot of faith in the quarterback expected to spread the ball through the air. Bushland has also won the last three district titles and a total of 28 games in the last three years.
So the expectations of Jaco were certainly high.
A month later, he is currently the third-best passer in the Texas Panhandle region after leading the Falcons to clear wins over West Plains (52-6), Canadian (47-21), Childress (43-0) and Borger (51-13 ). The Falcons are now ranked the state’s No. 7 Class 3A Division I team by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, and that’s due in large part to the efficiency and leadership of their 6-foot signal caller.
“Dawson did a great job,” said Bushland coach Josh Reynolds. “What Dawson does really well is that he’s trainable. You can tell him that we need to get rid of the ball faster or throw it on a route in time and he will immediately try to fix it. His football IQ from a quarterback perspective is very high and makes our job very easy. … His football IQ and coaching skills set him apart.”
In four games, Jaco has completed 82 of 115 passes (71.3%) for 1,089 yards and 12 touchdowns with one interception. The offensive system doesn’t require much dual threat ability from Jaco, but he also managed to score three goals on the ground.
In addition to the impressive stats Jaco has put together in four weeks, there’s also the growth he’s had as a leader. He relies on reliable senior playmaker Ivan Soto outside the backfield and a quartet of top receivers in Baylor King, Breken Reed, Cole Purcell and Tate Butcher.
The Falcons attacking group have big plans this season and so far they’ve looked like championship contenders, averaging 48.3 points per game.
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“My favorite thing to do is play quarterback because I’m in charge of the team and everyone looks up to you while you’re the general on the field,” Jaco said. “We are more than a team here, we are a brotherhood. We have a lot of fun together every day training, Friday night games and weekends filming and stretching. We just do everything together to strengthen our bond.”
Growing up, Jaco enjoyed watching former Bushland quarterback Colton Moore play. He has also enlisted the help of his older brother Skyler, a former receiver and current Stephen F. Austin pitcher, to help adjust to the varsity game. After biding his time at junior varsity and waiting for his moment, Jaco was ready to take the reins in 2022.
He spent the summer working on his footwork, ball placement and building better relationships with his linemen and receivers. After many long hours of watching without his eyes, Jaco has started to emerge into one of the best passers in the region in front of everyone.
The work is not done yet and neither Jaco nor Reynolds are satisfied. The next step is to take out Class 4A, Division I, #8 Dumas in the Demons’ own house.
Both the Falcons and Jaco are up to the challenge.
“We just go out there and play every week like we’re the better team and with the skills we know we have,” Jaco said. “I’m ready to get a win while playing hard and having fun with my homies.”
Dumas is also hoping to have fun when he heads out to meet Bushland on Friday night — with three straight wins led by an imposing defense that has conceded 65 points in four games.
Demons coach Aaron Dunnam is looking forward to the challenge an undefeated Bushland team will pose to his team on Friday night and believes the atmosphere at Demon Stadium will support the hype on the field.
“We have a really good football team coming to town,” said Dunnam. “They haven’t lost a game yet and played good football. They have a different style than we’ve seen this season so it’s going to be a challenge. I think it’s great for our community and it’s great for both programs as we try to prepare for the future with district games and the playoffs. This is a game that will definitely test you and prepare you for it.”
Dumas senior quarterback Emmanuel Ibanez threw four touchdown passes, ran two more and made his seventh trip to the end zone on an interception return in a 57-6 triumph over Plainview last week.
The Bushland defense, led by senior linebacker Matthew Bridges (five sacks) and defenseman Baylor King (two interceptions), needs another A-level performance to stop an offense looking to make its midseason stride.
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“We have all the respect in the world for them and their program because you know how successful they’ve been lately and when you turn on the movie you just see how hard their kids are playing,” Reynolds said. “You try to look for weaknesses and you try to look for things they could give you. One thing that stands out is that they don’t give you much. We’re going to have to earn everything against these guys.”
Both coaches expect a playoff-like atmosphere and both programs are aiming for victory. Bushland have a chance to start 5-0 for the first time since 2019 and Dumas has a chance to add to his already impressive resume as they continue to be a team to beat.
“This will be a battle between offense, defense and special teams,” Dunnam said. “We know we have a really good opponent coming to town.”
BUSHLAND AT DUMAS
Football outside the district
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Demon Stadium, Dumas
Records: scrubland 4-0; Dumas 3-1
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