R31 6435 Scaled E1665827131680 1210x642
Football Jordan

Football Preview: Jordan Panthers

There’s plenty to be excited about for Jordan football with expectations higher than they’ve been in more than a decade.

Last year, Jordan went 6-4 in the first season under new coach Jon Nielsen. That’s only the second winning season for the Panthers in the last 13 years. They also have about 50 freshmen coming out for the team this season, which is almost double what it’s been in recently.

“We were two plays away from being 8-2 last year (after close losses to Millikan and Wilson) and we had three kids get scholarships, so that’s good, but I got the job late (in the year) and we couldn’t implement stuff in that time with eight of our 11 offensive starters taking their first Varsity snaps,” Nielsen said. “We’re pretty talented and I’m excited for what’s coming. It’s going to be a fun season.”

Everyone in Long Beach is thrilled to see Jordan Washington carry the ball once again for the Panthers. The senior running back committed to the University of Arizona after rushing for 1,388 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. Washington averaged 13.5 yards per carry, and Nielsen said he’s going to find creative ways to get Washington more touches this year.

“He’s a very dynamic player who is going to touch the ball in all different kinds of ways,” Nielsen said. “It’s not going to be conventional. He’s gonna get the ball in space and work on things for the next level. He’s going to be a more well-rounded running back”

Washington was also a 100m and 200m CIF Southern Section champion during track and field season. His 10.24 in the 100 is a new CIF-SS Division 1 record and one of the fastest times in state history. Washington also finished second in the 100 and fourth in the 200 at CIF State Finals. So, it’s clear that Arizona is thrilled to have so much speed coming to their program.

“It’s almost like a dream come true, but at the same time I never really dreamed it,” Washington said of being offered a scholarship. “Recruiting (at Jordan HS) wasn’t really good, and then everything changed, so I was very surprised. Arizona is a great school and program. I put faith in it, gave it time, and it all worked out.”

Returning in the backfield with Washington will be quarterback junior Jarret “J.J.” Nielsen, who had a breakout sophomore campaign while racking up 1,630 yards and 16 touchdowns. His coach and father have given him more responsibilities this year.

“He runs the offense from calling the play, setting the linemen, run check, pass check, protection check… we run a college offense and for him to do what he did last year as a sophomore was way above where I thought he’d be,” coach Nielsen said.

J.J. Nielsen will have his top receiving targets back as well with the return of seniors Deonte Tucker and Gerald Pickens. Last year, Tucker had 655 yards and seven touchdowns on 43 receptions. Pickets was second on the team with 347 yards and five touchdowns on 22 receptions.

The Jordan offensive line will be a strong point with returners Sei Saolotoga, Tyree Chapman and Tiant Spears Jr.. The junior Saolotoga will be the center, Chapman is a left tackle and Spears Jr. will play multiple positions.

While eight of the 11 offensive starters are returning, the Jordan defense has a lot more holes to fill.

Support The562.org

Senior All-Moore Leaguer Israel Poyer will be the leader on the defensive line while sophomores JaMarcus Russel and Deanthony Pierce return after getting quality playing time as freshman last year.

Senior Kaleb Moran has transferred in to lead the linebacking corps. Jordan coaches still don’t want to announce all of the probable starters who are still fighting for the positions.

However, the Jordan secondary is solidified with Jay’Mari Redmond and Trejon Spears at cornerback, and team leader Patrick Woods at safety. Redmond will be asked to cover the opponents best receivers, and Nielsen said this is the tallest secondary he’s coached.

Coach Nielsen also mentioned the change in expectations this year that reach far beyond the football field.

“If it was just football it would be easy. We learned this is a life deal of mentoring, teaching and just being involved in these guys' lives. That’s helping them with school to stay on track. With these kids you can’t just pull up, coach and leave. This is a fully invested deal.”

Part of that plan will be limiting the players dressed out for Varsity games to around 50.

“The kids who are in are in and the riff raff are out,” he said. “With a full spring, it’s a totally different team than it was last year in terms of mindset, accountability and being better human beings.”

Jordan hosts North Torrance to open the season on Aug. 18 before taking on Peninsula, George Washington Prep and La Mirada in non-league action. The Panthers open Moore League play at home against Millikan on Sept. 22.

VIDEO: Jordan Football Preview 2023

Probable Starters:


QB - Jarret “JJ” Nielsen 

RB - Jordan Washington 

WR - Deonte Tucker / Gerald Pickens / Kani Swisher / Jake Bautista

OL - Sei Saolotoga / Tyree Chapman / Tiant Spears Jr. / Angel Delgadillo


DL - Israel Poyer / Jamarcus Russel / Deanthony Pierce

LB - Kaleb Moran

DB - Jay’Mari Redmond / Trejon Spears / Patrick Woods

2023 Jordan Panthers Football Schedule

8/18 - vs. North

8/25 - at Peninsula

9/1 - vs. George Washington Prep

9/8 - at La Mirada

9/22 - vs. Millikan

9/29 - vs. Lakewood

10/6 - at Compton

10/13 - at Wilson

10/20 - at Cabrillo

10/27 - vs. Long Beach Poly

Massive Long Beach Football Preview
JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.