On an unusually cool July Saturday morning, the usual 7 on 7 invitational was being held at Heritage Christian School. Fans were in the stands, players were on the sidelines and coaches were standing out in the field of play correcting errors and praising successful drives or stops. For Jackson Kirtley, it was mostly 3 and out. Three passes and a touchdown and in comes the defense.
Heritage Christian's offense is made for 7 on 7 competitions and they scored a lot of points on Saturday. Kirtley, the 6' 0" 185 lb quarterback tossed several in the two hours I watch him in this summer football ritual. You can't help but be impressed watching his accuracy, even in the world of 7 on 7 it is uncanny. The ball always seems to be right where his receiver can catch it. And they do, high and inside, low and outside, and up and away. Kirtley puts the ball where they can catch it. That's his chief strength.
Kirtley returns for his senior season as the number 1 chart buster, which means his stats are at the top of Indiana's charts. He threw for 3,618 yards in the 2008 season, completed 66% of his passes, and led his team to the 2008 class 2A state championship. He is getting ready for his encore and has had a pretty busy summer.
His head coach, Ron Qualls, told me that Jackson dedicated himself to the weight room this winter and got stronger. Another strength extolled by Qualls is Jackson's intelligence. So it's not hard to sum up and verify Jackson Kirtley as an Intelligent, strong, accurate quarterback and after talking to him and watching him that assessment by his head coach is accurate.
Kirtley has been busy doing the college summer camp scene. He has traveled to Ball State, Ohio University, Indiana University and had just gotten back from Western Kentucky University. His last camp before the season starts will be at Northwestern. He also admits that if there is no current D1 interest that DePauw and Wheaton College have shown some interest.
Football has always been important to him and he related that his sophomore year was pivotal. "I wasn't sure if Heritage Christian was the right fit for me," he revealed. But I stuck with it and I got my opportunity…" he went on to explain. No one can argue he made the most of his opportunity. Heritage Christian is a private Christian school that started football in 2002. In 6 short years it built itself into a state champion. "I was easily frustrated, but my personal philosophy is simply ‘make another play' when the play doesn't go my way," He told Indiana Varsity Scout.
It only stands to reason his Christian faith has a large part of his approach to the game. "I grew up in a Christian Family and I believe God put me in this position and I simply have to persevere," Kirtley confided. He admits to being a fierce competitor and says that this year with the inclusion of Indianapolis Ritter and Speedway in their sectional it will simply be "Who is the last man standing?" When I asked him what he thought about the this lineup, he replied "I look forward to the challenge, we play Ritter in game 9 and could also play them in game 10…I'll be ready for the challenge."