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Washington junior catching on at receiver

Jaheim Bennett credits his parents with helping him be the player he is. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

While impressive, it’s not crazy unusual for a quarterback to have 16 touchdowns through five games.

But when that quarterback switches to wide receiver a week before the season begins, and plays the position for the first time, scoring 16 touchdowns sounds like an unrealistic dream.

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Unless you’re Jaheim Bennett.

Bennett is a junior on the George Washington High School football team, and after a back-and-forth battle with freshman quarterback Logan Jerry, the team decided to put Jerry at quarterback and move Bennett to receiver, a position he never played before.

It’s safe to say he’s a fast learner.

“At first I was playing quarterback, but we got a freshman, Logan, who was competing with me,” said Bennett, who grew up in Kensington. “He did great, and I wanted to be an all-around player, so I moved to receiver so I can be a player on the field. That way he’s on the field and I’m on the field and that makes our offense better.

“We got great connections, we get better at practice. If he needs anything, I’ll make plays for him. We got a great connection. He’s good, when the coach calls a play, I tell him to look for me. I haven’t dropped a ball and he hasn’t missed me. We work really well together.”

That’s an understatement.

The Eagles are flying high behind their new quarterback and even new receiver. They’ve won every game they’ve played thus far, have pitched shutouts in all but one game and have outscored their foes 186-15. All 15 points were scored by Archbishop Wood. 

Washington picked up shutouts over Frankford, Benjamin Franklin, Overbrook and Kensington, which the Eagles beat 40-0 on Saturday.

And Bennett couldn’t be prouder of the way things are going.

“I don’t think any of us are surprised, we knew we were going to be good because we work for it,” said Bennett, who also sees time at defensive back and had two interceptions in his team’s 40-0 win over Kensington, his former team. “All the work my guys put in during the summer, this is where we should be. We should be this good. We put in the work this summer. Every day, 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. practices. We went to camp, we played at Rutgers seven on seven. It’s a grind and now it’s paying off. 

“We’re surprising people, they are doubting us. The week we played Wood, my QB led our team, the offensive line is doing great, defense gets great stops. People thought just because we’re playing a Catholic League team, we’d lose, but this is a really good team. We can win a lot of games.”

Bennett has proven to be one of the most versatile players in the league, and he’s confident playing anywhere. He started his football career as a running back, but he’s just as comfortable behind center. Now, he’s become an elite wideout.

Couple that with his ability to play defensive back, and he’s been providing the Eagles with a Swiss Army knife.

“I’m an athlete, so I can play every position without any problem,” Bennett said. “I put my mind to it. I had to learn the plays. I’m a good athlete, so it wasn’t that hard. And if it helps the team, that’s what I want to do.”

He’s there for his athletic ability, but since arriving at Washington in the summer after attending Kensington his first two years, Bennett has been working hard at showing his coaches and his teammates that he can also be a good leader.

His efforts aren’t going unnoticed, and he thinks he’s making huge strides in that department.

“I joined the team, basically, I had to become their brother,” Bennett said. “ ‘Team together,’ that’s what we say, I had to buy into that. I had to show them I’m loyal. That’s the kind of guy I am, I’m a hard worker, I wanted to be here and I wanted to play football with them. And now we are a family.

“Now, we’re best friends. They’re all my brothers. The coaches? I love them to death. They’re there for me when I need them, the players are there for me, and I’ll be there for them when they need me. I love them all.” 

It means a lot to Bennett that his team is like his family because that’s something that’s very important to him.

While he’ll do anything for his teammates, he also loves the support he gets from his relatives, especially his parents.

“I got seven siblings, one of my brothers passed away, Darnell Childs, he was my dad’s son,” Bennett said. “My mom and dad, I live with them, they’re the reason I’m still going. I want to get them out of the hood, they push me every day to get my grades, to get my driver’s license. Henry Bennett and Kay Bennett. They’re the reason I’m on this earth. Without them and the Lord Jesus, I wouldn’t have any of these blessings. I come from a Christian household, and that’s very important to me. 

“Frankie Page is my brother and he’s there for me. I’ll be there for him. He’s a good big brother, that’s my motivation. He taught me everything I know to this day, he played for Southern and the North Philly Blackhawks as well. But it’s my whole family.

“My sister, Shaneice Blake, she’s been there ever since I played football. At every game, supports me in every way, always there for me. My family means so much to me.”

And he hopes he’s able to bring them a championship.

“We want to beat Lincoln and go on a run,” Bennett said. “I want to win for the seniors. I want to win for this team. They are my brothers. We want to win together.”

 

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