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Jackson's 12 interceptions this season rank second all-time in state 11-man record books

Despite an earlier-than-expected exit from the state playoffs this year, the St. Paul football team garnered a great deal of recognition from opposing coaches in the all-state awards at the end of the season.

The No. 1 team throughout the regular season, the Buckaroos boasted seven players named to the 2A all-state team, led by defensive GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - Junior linebacker Justin Herberger was named Class 2A player of the year and was one of five Buckaroos to earn first-team all-state status.
player of the year Justin Herberger.

The junior linebacker was one of five SPHS players to earn first team honors on offense or defense, joining teammates Jaidyn Jackson, Campbell Smith, Zach Brentano and Alex Dela Cerda. Saul Martinez and Holden Smith also picked up all-state nods.

Herberger led a defensive front that surrendered just 121 points all season, including three shutouts — the top mark in the state in any classification. The junior was second on the team with 86 tackles, leading a linebacker corps that included Brentano, a second team all-state selection.

Herberger also picked up first team recognition as a running back after racking up 1,446 yards and a team-high 23 touchdowns on 128 carries. He and backfield teammate Martinez — a second team honoree with 1,595 yards and 17 touchdowns — gave the Bucks the most dangerous running back tandem at the 2A level.

Together, the pair led a rushing attack that put up more than 3,600 yards this season behind one of the best offensive lines in the state.

Campbell Smith, a dual threat blocker and receiver, was joined by Brentano and Dela Cerda to make up three members of the line to earn first team honors.

Leading the attack was Holden Smith, the senior signal-caller who was named player of the year in the Tri-River Conference and was selected to the all-state second team after 81-of-135 passes for 1,455 yards and an impressive 25-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

The primary target for the St. Paul quarterback was Jackson, who pulled down 36 receptions for 796 yards and 15 touchdowns to make the first team.

As good as Jackson was on offense, he was even better on defense. While his backfield teammates Rawley Koch and Mitchell Curtis far surpassed Jackson in passes deflected, the St. Paul junior had a simpler solution — just pick them off.

Jackson finished the season with 12 interceptions, which not only set a program record, but puts him in the books among the best defensive backs in Oregon history. Jackson's season ties him for second in state history for interceptions in season, sharing the spot with former Burns defensive back Kellen Clemens, who went on to play for the University of Oregon and is a quarterback in the NFL for the San Diego Chargers.

Jackson's 17 career interceptions is the third-most in state history at the 11-man level, behind Clemens (23) and former NFL star Troy Polamalu (19).

Unfortunately, Jackson's career total will stay there when the Bucks drop back down to eight-man football at the 1A classification for his senior season.

The state keeps separate record books for eight-man and 11-man football, and any interceptions Jackson records in 2018 would not count toward his 11-man career total, according to OSAA record keeper Larry Moulton.

Dela Cerda also joined Jackson and Herberger on the all-state first team as a defensive lineman after leading the Bucks with 96 tackles, while Martinez was picked to the second team after posting a team-high four sacks.

On special teams, Brentano was named to the second team as a kicker, while Holden Smith was the third team punter.

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