Although he hadn't played a football game since mid August, there Jackson was at midfield of his future home field, alone, representing the Red Devils in the coin toss as one of the four team captains.
"It meant to world to me," Jackson told Badger Nation after Kenosha Bradford shutout Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln, 7-0, Friday night to win the school's first football championship. "I felt as much a part of this team as if I was still playing. It was an amazing experience. It was bittersweet, but I am still happy."
Jackson, a four-star recruit who gave his verbal commitment to Wisconsin in late March, was expected to be a big part of Bradford's season after rushing for 956 yards and 11 touchdowns in a backup role to current UW freshman Melvin Gordon. That changed in the opening game when Jackson tore his ACL in his left knee late in the first half of the first game, a 27-14 win over Milwaukee Riverside, August 19.
Other than having surgery September 16 and a few days of recovery time, Jackson could always be seen involved in some aspect of the Red Devils' offense.
"That kid has been at every practice, coaches up the kids, helps the coaches look at plays," said coach Jed Kennedy said. "I wish he was out there, Vonte wishes he was out there, but just a team effort."
The prognosis for Jackson is favorable. Two months removed from surgery, Jackson will enroll at Wisconsin in January to go through a rehabilitation program with the team doctors and start learning the playbook in spring practice.
"I can't wait," Jackson said. "I've got about four more months until I am back to 100 percent. I'll be in no pads for spring ball, but I'll be in full pads by fall camp."
Bitter Ending for Biegel
The only current Wisconsin recruit to play in the two-day state championships, Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln linebacker Vince Biegel did everything he could to bring home his school's first state championship against Jackson-less Kenosha Bradford.
Seemingly involved on every play, showing a knack for making plays, playing aggressive and reading the opposing offense, Biegel tied a game-high with 10 tackles and help hold Kenosha Bradford to 215 total yards and 28.6 points below their season average, but couldn't stop a 10-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter or pull down a fourth-and-long pass to extend the game.
Biegel, another four-star recruit by Scout.com, spoke briefly about his anxiousness to return to Camp Randall and win next season while his head coach talked about wanting to see him compete.
"He's all over the field," Lincoln coach Tony Biolo said of Biegel. "He's a great leader for us. With Wisconsin recruiting him, he's the type of player you'd love to have on the field. I can't wait to watch him. He'll be fantastic."
As he hugged teammate after teammate, tears started to run down Leo Musso's cheeks. He wasn't sad over his performance, far from it actually, but simply couldn't believe that it was over.
"This was the last time we were going to play together," Musso said. "We came out and gave it all we got."
Waunakee's studded senior tailback saved his best for his last high school performance to make him a three-time state champion, rushing for 181 yards and four touchdowns in the Warriors' 45-0 shutout victory over Waterford to win its third straight WIAA Division 2 championship.
With his senior teammates preaching the "team" aspect all week long, Musso went to a barber on the west side of Madison and had the numbers of all six of his blockers shaved into his head.
"I thought to myself that these guys can't get on TV so I am going to get them on TV," said Musso, who rushed for 2,398 yards and 39 TDs. "They were leading me to the end zone."
Musso did his part all season (finished the year with 2,398 yards and 39 touchdowns) and against the Wolverines. His 28-yard touchdown run in the first half that opened the Waunakee flood games was one of sheer aggression, stiff arming three Wolverines defenders on his way to the goal line. His 41-yard score was one of speed and deception breaking down a defender one-on-one on a fake punt, his 4-yard run was one of strength and his final one of 27 yard to close the scoring was a combination of all four.
"I cannot say enough good things about him," said Waunakee coach Pat Rice. "The coolest thing about him is he is so humble. What you see and what you get. To have a guy like that who could put himself way above other things really represents what we've try to do over the last few years. For him to go out like he did tonight is pretty cool."
Despite his gaudy offers, Musso is still searching for his first Division 1 scholarship offer. Getting interest from multiple Division 2 and a couple I-AA schools, Musso plans to take recruiting off the backburner and start taking some official visits.
"I hope I can find a good place and I hope a performance like this gives me some good opportunities," said Musso, who then looked up toward the UW coaches offices. "I love the school here and it would be great if I could come here."