Football coaches looking to rebuild a program often seek leadership from players who have won in other sports. In Goldthwaite, where the once-high flying Eagles enter this season having lost 21 of 24 games, that link is Jackson Patrick.
As a freshman, Patrick helped the Goldthwaite boys’ golf team win the Class 2A state championship as the Eagles’ No. 4 golfer. As a sophomore, he played a big role off the bench for Goldthwaite’s district championship boys’ basketball team.
“Winning is a mindset,” said Patrick, a junior quarterback and defensive back in football. “We talk about winning every rep in every drill in practice, and winning every play in the games. You don’t win football games just on Friday night. You win during practice and conditioning and doing the hard stuff.
“You can find ways to win or you can find ways to lose. We’re trying to build a winning mindset.”
Patrick was Goldthwaite’s starting quarterback for the final seven games last season as the Eagles finished 2-8. That followed a 1-9 finish in 2018 — representing a long fall for a program with four state championships between 1985 and 2009, plus a school-record 14 consecutive playoff berths from 2004-2017.
Last year the 5-foot-8, 160-pound Patrick led Goldthwaite in rushing with 428 yards and three touchdowns, passing with 308 yards and three TDs, and tackles with 75. As a freshman in 2018, Patrick was leading the Eagles in rushing, receiving and tackles until a season-ending ankle injury in the fourth game.
Keith Virdell, the second-year Goldthwaite head coach, has an idea of what improvements he expects from his second-year quarterback.
“Jackson needs to make better decisions on some of our bootleg option plays. That will turn 5-yard gains into 10-yard gains. And he needs to connect on a few more passes. Little improvements in a lot of areas will lead to big improvements overall,” Virdell said.
Patrick said, “I didn’t get hardly any reps at quarterback in the preseason last year, and it was a completely new offense. This year I feel like everything has slowed down. I’m more comfortable against different defenses and knowing my reads.”
While Goldthwaite figures to be improved this season, the Eagles must contend with a tough District 4-2A Division I schedule that includes No. 4-ranked Cisco and No. 10 San Saba, along with Coleman, De Leon and Winters.
“What district we are in is out of our control,” Patrick said. “We have to try to come out on top in some of those games and make a run.”
Patrick is the leader of a junior class that won back-to-back district championships in middle school. But because of low numbers in the high school program, many current juniors were forced to play on the varsity before their time as freshmen and sophomores. They’re 3-17 in two varsity seasons, but they haven’t forgotten their winning past.
“Having gone through some tough times the last couple of years will make the wins a little sweeter,” Patrick said. “I hate to lose more than I love to win.”
Patrick led many of the juniors in voluntary workouts during the spring shutdown of sports because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“His stature of being the leader of that group is purely work ethic,” Virdell said of Patrick. “He’s works harder than anybody on our team. He studies film on his position and the opposition. If he says they need to work out, the others don’t bat an eye.
“He’s a self-motivated, self-disciplined kid. He gives unbelievable effort on the field and in the classroom. He’s the type of kid you want all your players to be like.”