AUBURN — Luckily for Edward Little boys’ soccer coach Tim Mains, he got to replace one flipping Jackson with another.

Exit Connor, EL class of 2018, enter Jake, a sophomore and first-time varsity player. But what didn’t change for the Red Eddies was being equipped with a player who could do a flip throw-in.

“It is such a weapon, and it’s something that you really can’t teach. A kid just kind of has to be able to go out there and do it,” Mains said. “So to be as athletic as the Jacksons are, and to be able to just go out there and do it, it’s impressive, and it’s really important for us and our program.”

Jake said he started fooling around with the flip throw around third grade after watching older brother Connor doing it. Having a couple years experience in gymnastics gave him a foundation for the flip.

It took him a few years to get comfortable with flipping in a throw-in, but his ability has grown to a new level this season.

“This year it’s been further than I’ve ever thrown because I’ve learned how to do my whole body into it,” Jackson said.

He makes it sound so simple.

“You just got to, like, push off the ball to get the rotation going, flip yourself,” Jackson said. “You have to use your whole body to do it though.”

Jackson has put even more of his body into it this year, an adjustment that has allowed him to throw farther.

“My best, I threw from half and it landed right at the (6-yard box),” Jackson said.

“You know, traditionally it’s within 30 yards of the net on either side,” Mains said. “But (last Tuesday) against Lewiston he threw one that was like from the 50, and had we had a runner on the keeper we would have had a chance to put one in. But he can throw it pretty much within the half and get it in the box.”

Jackson said he gets “pretty excited” when he sees the ball go out in the opponent’s end, knowing he gets a chance to show off his unique talent. But that eagerness has led to some moments that are equally embarrassing for Jackson and scary for Mains, like a time Jackson slipped and fell during a night game.

“Well he’s fallen on his butt a few times. We’ve still asked him to do it,” Mains said. “When it rains, you know, we ask him and we try to — you know, he’s a kid, and his health is important to us. After that fall we kind of calmed it down a little bit in the rain. But he’s a competitor and he knows that it’s a huge part of what we do, so he tries to give it to us regardless of the weather, and he does a pretty good job with it.”

The scariest part for Jackson is when he’s upside-down in mid-flip.

“Because I, like, either under-rotate, I could land on my back, and if I over-rotate I could land on my face,” Jackson said.

Jackson landed right on his feet, where he was supposed to, in a rainy game on Lewiston’s baseball turf against Bangor, and the ball landed where it was supposed to — off the head of towering Wol Maiwen and then into the back of the net.

The Red Eddies also scored a pair of goals off Jackson’s flip throws in a win over Brunswick. Those opportunities don’t happen quite as often now, with opponents deciding that conceding a throw-in on their own side of midfield is asking for trouble.

“Now they usually don’t kick it out of bounds. They’re too scared to,” Jackson said. “I think it’s a pretty big weapon because it’s pretty much the same thing as doing a corner kick.”

Those opportunities will be important, however, in the playoffs.

“I think we’re going to either ride or die with it, Mains said. “It’s been our philosophy all year. When it works, it looks great, and we look great. When we don’t score on those we don’t tend to win. So it’s kind of either we rise to the occasion, and win with our flip throws, or we sink with it as well.”

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Edward Little’s Jake Jackson prepares to demonstrate a flip throw-in, which has become a weapon for the Red Eddies. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Jake Jackson flip throw-in demonstration (2 of 5) (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Jake Jackson flip throw-in demonstration (3 of 5) (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Jake Jackson flip throw-in demonstration (4 of 5) (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Jake Jackson flip throw-in demonstration (5 of 5) (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Edward Little’s Jake Jackson prepares to do a flip throw-in, which has become a weapon for the Red Eddies. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)