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Competitive juices boost Berman as standout Valley Christian athlete

Jakson Berman works out at a Deliberate Training Session on Nov. 28, 2020. Chris Jackson / Staff Photo
Jakson Berman works out at a Deliberate Training Session on Nov. 28, 2020. Chris Jackson / Staff Photo

There isn’t a moment where Valley Christian junior quarterback Jakson Berman isn’t competing with himself.

Berman, ever since he was little, loved the competition. He loved competing with others, but he loved the inner drive that he knew he could beat himself and his previous successes.

No matter what, Berman is always looking for constant improvement, 

“You’re not going to be the best Tom Brady you can be,” Berman said. “I just think you should be the best person you can be, so I’ve just always took that mindset of no matter who I’m going against, if they’re slow or fast, I’m going to get a new PR or I’m going to beat me today. I’m not going to beat the guy across from me just because you’re your best competitor. That’s my mindset basically through everything.”

During his athletic career, Berman has used that mindset to his advantage.

As a sophomore, Berman transitioned to defensive back for one season in the Warriors’ run to an 11-2 record, a share of a West Catholic Athletic League title and a runner-up finish in the Central Coast Section. He went on to record 29 total tackles, 26 solo stops and one pass deflection, all the while being a returner when he averaged 37.7 yards per kickoff return.

But that’s only where part of Berman’s success lies.

In track, Berman’s times consistently improved before the COVID-19 pandemic halted the spring sports season in 2020, going from an all-freshman runner running 11.2 seconds in the 100 meters to a bump to 10.88 seconds his sophomore season.

“Very hard worker on the field,” Berman said. “I go 110% no matter what  – special teams. Last year I did kick returns, punts, blocking. No matter when I’m on the field I try to make a play, no matter what position. And even though I didn’t know that much about DB because it was my first year, I was always communicating. I’m pretty vocal out on the field to my teammates to make sure everybody is communicating because it’s a team sport. “

And in that leadership is the root of who Berman is: a winner at heart and someone who leads his teammates every step of the way.

Berman was born an extrovert and said he was used to being in the spotlight from a young age, whether he was in baseball, basketball, football or track.

“I kind of just did every sport  just to try them all out and see which I like, and then I just took a really good liking to football probably in like fourth grade,” Berman said. “I started playing running back. I went from like running back to wide receiver, then finally my eighth grade year I started playing quarterback and then I just liked having the ball in my hands and being able to do the most I can to make our team win, so I just took a natural liking to that.”

Now, as a full-time quarterback again, Berman is ready to take the reins offensively again.

Valley Christian’s offense is loaded around him. Two tight ends – junior Sam Roush (Stanford) and Tyler Roberts – are Division I commits. Sophomore Jurrion Dickey finished with 500-plus receiving yards and is tabbed as one of the top 100 sophomores in the country by 247 Sports. Do-it-all Charlie Kinne transferred in from Los Altos and can play everywhere.

There’s also been work with his center, working on snaps and throwing him the ball in the meantime this offseason. 

All of that is what Berman honed in on with this offseason being extended a few extra months, utilizing this extra time to his advantage through weightlifting, working on throwing and building chemistry with his teammates. Some of that work entailed 1,000 snaps with his center of throwing five times per week while working on every scenario – form, game scenarios, long game, short game, RPOs, play-action. 

“That’s great chemistry,” Berman said. “Especially with track, it’s just keeping your form. It’s just you can always get better with track. That’s the great thing. You can’t master running. You can always get faster, so throughout this offseason I’ve just been making sure my form is as consistent as possible, my weight is staying as consistent as possible and then obviously my throwing can’t be perfected. I’d probably throw five times a week just to get form, different scenarios, game scenarios, short game, long game, RPOs, everything I can do, play action. I’ve just been trying to build on my game because I took that one year off.”

Where Berman’s work can also pay off at quarterback is through his previous time at defensive back.

“100% (helps) because when you go to quarterback training they tell you what the DBs responsibility is, but when you know the footwork for a DB and what they’re told exactly, it helps so much,” Berman said. “I can know on cover 3 with smash concept what the corner is going to bail or come up just depending on his pre-snap read.”

The recruiting process has remained steady for Berman, too.

He said he’s talked to the recruiting coordinator at the University of Oregon, talked to a Cal assistant every week and also visited a number of Pac-12 campuses in Arizona State, Oregon, UCLA and USC.

Academics will always remain the No. 1 priority for Berman at whichever school he chooses. 

“I want a school that can not just help my body, but my brain and help me move on past football into my future life,” Berman said. “And then it would be the school atmosphere, like school pride. I would want a school where the whole town goes to the games and everybody is pretty invested. 

“And then obviously for football just a well established program, a school that knows what it’s like to win and go to big games. That would probably be my top three.”

Leading up to the athletics season, Berman’s goals are set at the highest possible marks.

Although he hopes to create some individual success and potentially make it to the state level in track while running 10.6 seconds in the 100 meters, he wants to bring Valley Christian something it’s never accomplished before on the football field.

Plus, Berman also wants to help as many teammates he can reach the next level. 

“We’ve went to one state game and lost it, so our goal would be to obviously win state and as a personal goal I just want to be the best player,” Berman said. “The awards don’t mean as much to me. Be an All-WCAL, All-CCS doesn’t really matter as long as you lose, so I would just want our team to do the best as we can. Get every possible guy that can go to the next level at whatever D1, D2, D3 to possibly show their skills so they can get offered and move on to the next level. 

“That would be great, but obviously just to win state and get our coach finally a state ring.”

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