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FALL SPORTS PREVIEW: Disappointment becomes motivation for TJ

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Thomas Jefferson quarterback Austin Schubert (12) rushes the ball during the first quarter on Friday, Oct. 2, 2020

Thomas Jefferson football left last season with a bad taste in its mouth after only winning two games, but head coach Brant Anderson said the team is using that feeling as motivation headed into next year.

The Yellow Jackets are setting their sights high once again and hope to maybe earn a spot in the postseason.

“We expected to perform better than that,” Anderson said. “... Kids really want to turn things around. We want to put a better impression out there of the football program, put a better view out there than what we showed last year.”

T.J. does return a lot of experience. The roster currently lists 14 seniors and 16 juniors. Among those players returning are the starting quarterback, leading rusher, two top receivers and all of its defensive backs.

Senior Austin Schubert will be under center for Thomas Jefferson. He will be a three-year starter. Junior Devon Bovee was the leading rusher from a year ago and senior Reese Schlotfeld will also be a key in the rushing game.

On the defensive side, Braetyn Couse led the Yellow Jackets in interceptions.

“We have quite a bit of experience back from last year,” Anderson said. “From an experience standpoint we’re trying to do a few more things with (our skill players), trying to focus on that.”

One area that isn’t as experienced is the offensive and defensive line. Anderson said the line will have to grow quickly for Thomas Jefferson to have success.

One of the main goals this year include qualifying for the playoffs.

“That’s a goal of ours every single year,” Anderson said. “It has been every single year I’ve been at T.J. We’re just looking at it one game at a time. We’re just going to focus on week one and worry about that game first and move on to week two when we get to week two.”

Another big change this year will be the schedule. During the reclassification process, many of Thomas Jefferson’s typical opponents moved up to Class 5A, T.J. remains in Clss 4A. The Yellow Jackets will only play three teams that it played last year — Abraham Lincoln, Denison-Schleswig and Glenwood.

T.J. will renew its rivalry with Lewis Central after not playing for the previous few years and will see some teams for the first time.

Other teams on the schedule include Omaha South, Carroll, Dallas Center-Grimes, Winterset and Des Moines Hoover.

Thomas Jefferson will open the season at 7 p.m. on Friday against Abraham Lincoln at Gale Wickersham Stadium.

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