NO. 5 JONES TIGERS
2016: 10-2, Runner-Up in 4A District 5
Head Coach: Elijah Williams, 10-2 in first season
Key Returners: CB Sevyn Banks, QB Quadry Jones (2256 yards, 28 TD; 109 rushing yards, TD), DE Stacy Kirby (65 tackles, 4 sacks), LB Michael Thomas-Loving (45 tackles, 2 sacks), RB Aaron Thompson (990 yards, 12 TD)
The Scoop: The first year for head coach Elijah Williams saw Jones go from 4-6 two years ago to 10-2 with a regional finals appearance last season. The Tigers two losses of the season were to the eventual 4A state champion Cocoa.
Jones moves up to 5A this year and will be boosted by the edition of six transfers. Competition on defense will be strong for the Tigers with several Division I recruits. Defensive end Stacy Kirby (Florida State) and cornerback Sevyn Banks (Ohio State) highlight a unit that Williams says will need to carry the team to start the season.
Quadry Jones enters his senior year as an established second year-starter at quarterback. The offense will have to replace four wide receivers and two offensive lineman who are all now at Division I colleges.
Quotable: “My goal is getting these guys to be the best student they can be, the best athlete they can be within the scheme that we want to do, and if they do that at a high level those guys will go to college.” – Elijah Williams
8/26 @ St. John’s (Washington DC)
9/1 vs. Oak Ridge
9/8 @ Colonial
9/15 vs. Evans
9/22 vs. Agape Christian Academy
9/29 vs. Bishop Moore
10/6 vs. West Orange
10/13 @ Poinciana
10/20 vs. Eustis
10/27 @ Tavares
The turnaround engineered by Elijah Williams in his first year at Jones was nothing short of impressive.
“We noticed the difference when coach Williams came,” senior linebacker Michael Thomas-Loving said. “It was tougher, more focused.”
Everything became mandatory, from weightlifting, to just plain practice. A birth in the regional finals only cemented the change going on at Jones.
“I think last year we caught a lot of people by surprise,” said head coach Elijah Williams. “You know that’s Jones, we went 4-6 and then 3-7 the year before. This year, they know, they know this is Jones, they know Jones is back, so we’re going to get everyone’s best shot.”
From the end of the spring to now Jones received six transfers. The competition for playing time will be fierce amongst the Tigers as they have Division I talent on both sides of the ball.
“I like to see the competition,” said senior defensive end Stacy Kirby. “I like to see everyone competing against each other. It’s cause for a successful and exciting practice, to see everyone bumping heads and clashing it boosts the momentum of the practice.”
But what helps the most is a mindset change amongst the players, they’ve come so far that they now consider going 10-2 a year ago a let down since they didn’t win a state championship.
“I have to keep telling my teammates, we went 10-2 last year,” said senior quarterback Quadry Jones. “There’s no telling what we could do this year. If we work hard we’re going to be successful.”