Jesuit Marauders’ Jason Gallagher (45) runs for a touchdown against Christian Brothers on Sept. 9. On Friday against Elk Grove, he led the defense in a 41-14 victory. Brian Baer Special to The Bee
Jesuit Marauders’ Jason Gallagher (45) runs for a touchdown against Christian Brothers on Sept. 9. On Friday against Elk Grove, he led the defense in a 41-14 victory. Brian Baer Special to The Bee

High School Sports

Jesuit defense hammers Elk Grove, led by ‘big time’ linebacker with a fitting nickname

By Mark Billingsley

October 06, 2017 11:04 PM

UPDATED October 07, 2017 08:00 AM

His nickname is “Thor” and he brings the hammer wherever he goes on the football field.

The last thing opposing ballcarriers see is Jason Gallagher’s flowing blond locks cascading over his shoulder pads as he buries them into the turf. Gallagher’s hammering hits helped No. 10 Jesuit thump No. 11 Elk Grove 41-14 on Friday night in a key Delta League matchup.

“He’s a big-time football player,” Jesuit coach Marlon Blanton said. “He’ll hit you. And he hits you flush. We’re lucky to have him.”

The Marauders defense held the Thundering Herd scoreless after its first possession until the last minute when most of the starters got a rest.

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“We fixed what we did wrong that first drive and then stayed true to our assignments and played disciplined and physical football from there,” Gallagher said.

“Nothing in the (Jesuit) rules say I can’t have long hair,” he said. “They’re pretty picky about the beard, so I can’t grow that out.”

And no one dares tease him about his hair, he said. “I only hear positives about my hair,” he said. Smart teammates.

Jesuit capitalized on numerous Elk Grove turnovers, scoring touchdowns after a fumble recovery, an interception and a mishandled pooch kick.

The game turned chippy midway through the third quarter and saw an Elk Grove player ejected and its bench flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.

“Turnovers are always crucial, especially the way both teams like to run the ball and play keep away,” Heffernan said before the game. “It’s going to come down to mistakes. If we can eliminate our mistakes, I think we’ll have a pretty good chance and I’m sure they feel the same way.”

Friday saw the emergence of another junior running back for Jesuit to compliment Isaiah Rutherford. Jackson Canaan had 1- and 80-yard touchdown runs.

Rutherford, who has a scholarship offer from Alabama, is big and strong enough to bust a tackle. But give him a sliver of light through his linemen and he’s likely to bust a touchdown run, as he did in the second quarter on an 83-yard sprint.

“That kid is phenomenal,” Elk Grove coach John Heffernan said of Rutherford. “If you give him a crease, he’s gone.”

Both teams started 0-2 and were on three-game winning streaks. With the loss, Heffernan said it’s important to not get too high or too low.

“It hurts, but we keep moving,” Heffernan said. “We’re going to come out every week and compete and whatever happens, happens. We’ll do the same next week. This is a process and we don’t get too caught up in the wins and losses too much. It’s always about how are the kids doing, are they coming together and getting better each week. Because if we do those things the scoreboard will take care of itself.”