Ethan Jackson has 36 career assists, a program record for the Buckfield boys’ soccer team.

BUCKFIELD — The first time Buckfield boys’ soccer coach Kyle Rines ever saw Ethan Jackson play soccer he was a long-haired, diminutive sixth-grader who showed up late to a game. Rines inserted Jackson anyway, and Jackson made it worth it by dribbling through the opposing defense and scoring a goal.

That Jackson, and the one that Rines is now coaching as a high-school senior, are a little bit different. For one, Jackson is no longer long-haired, or diminutive. And while he may still be able to enter into a game and instantly be the most talented player on the field, Jackson no longer has to — or wants to — dribble around and score.

Instead, Jackson lets his teammates do the scoring. And he’s doing it at an historic clip.

The Bucks’ man in the middle, their center midfielder, set the program record for career assists last week against Valley, bringing his four-year varsity total to 36 (and counting).

“It means that I’m a team player and I like to not only get involved myself, but get my teammates involved,” said Jackson, who didn’t know he was approaching the record until earlier in the week.

“It takes a very talented player,” Rines said. “To get any type of record you need to be successful at the high school level for all four years, I think. And Ethan, since his freshman year, has played 70 to 80 minutes per game for us. In the same spot, center mid.”

That Jackson has occupied the same position for the Bucks for his whole career ties in to his new record. When he bumped up from middle school to high school he bumped Jon Randolph from midfield to striker. Randolph set the program’s career assists mark in 2015, compiling 34 and breaking a record previously held by Ronnie Thompson.

Randolph still holds the program record for career goals, with an astounding 70.

“Congratulations is one big thing (Jon) emphasized,” Jackson said. “Congratulations, hug, handshake, and he was just proud.

“I learned a lot from him. Him and (my brother) Sidney Jackson. They were both great mentors and great leaders, both helped me get better because they were just so good anyway. It just made me push myself harder and give them the ball and have them show us how to do it.”

Rines said Jackson learned his humility and modesty from Randolph.

“I think that message from Jon, even as a 70-goal scorer … and all the success that he had, he was always one to give it onto the next guy. And I think Ethan saw that, and he’s the same, exact way,” Rines said.

Randolph and Sidney Jackson helped make the younger Jackson look good as a sophomore, when the Bucks rode all that talent to the program’s first state championship game. Rines said Jackson had to do a lot of the work himself last year after the Randolph and Sidney Jackson graduated, but the Bucks’ scoring has been more spread out this year.

“We have Noah Wiley, who’s got eight goals. Dylan Harvey, who’s got eight goals. Ethan has seven himself,” Rines said. “We have some other guys with three or four. Victor Verrill, who’s got six.”

While the Bucks have multiple guys who can put the ball in the net, that in some ways makes Jackson’s job as a distributor a little bit harder, having to know how to pass to which player.

“We’ve been together since we were young, so like we always know our strengths and weaknesses, and you know when a kid’s fast and when a kid has a good touch,” Jackson said.

“So your pass really depends on what kind of player you’re passing to. If I’m passing to Dylan, I usually give Dylan a chip over the head because he’s fast and he’s got a good touch. And if I were to give it Noah, I usually give Noah a quick through-ball because he has a good one-timer right at the goal.”

Jackson has added to his arsenal throughout his career, with a flip throw and corner kicks that have turned into assists. This season alone he has 16 assists in nine games.

Not that he puts much thought into that total.

“They are important, I guess, if a college looks at them, but personally they’re just a thing that’s going to be part of the past when I grow up,” Jackson said.

“He’s a wicked unselfish kid,” Rines said. “It’s weird. Like when I was in high school usually the best athletes, at whatever school, they were all about getting points in basketball, or hitting home runs.

“He doesn’t boast. He just goes out and plays, and he enjoys making his teammates better, too, so that’s awesome to see.”

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Ethan Jackson has 36 career assists, a program record for the Buckfield boys’ soccer team.

Ethan Jackson has 36 career assists, a program record for the Buckfield boys’ soccer team.Ethan Jackson has 36 career assists, a program record for the Buckfield boys’ soccer team.

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