published Friday, August 19th, 2011

Football Preview: Jones keys Lookout Valley's offense, defense

Lookout Valley running back Jamal Jones figures to be a key part of a Yellow Jackets offense that returns nine starters.
Lookout Valley running back Jamal Jones figures to be a key part of a Yellow Jackets offense that returns nine starters.
Photo by Jake Daniels.

LOOKOUT VALLEY YELLOW JACKETS

Coach: Tony Webb (41-34 here and overall)

Returning starters (O/D/K): 9/9/2

Remember these names: While numbers are thin overall, there is plenty of starting experience returning, led by tight end/linebacker Zach Frashier (Sr., 6-0, 190) and defensive end Tyler Higdon (Sr., 6-3, 205). The offense will be led by quarterback Vann Scribner (Jr., 6-0, 180), running back/linebacker Jamal Jones (Jr., 5-10, 185) and receiver/defensive back Toney Summerow (Jr., 5-10, 170).

Will be a memorable year if: A couple of younger players up front live up to expectations. The Yellow Jackets have talent with Jones at running back and Scribner is solid on both sides of the ball, but whether the team returns to the playoffs will be decided up front.

Schedule

Aug. 19 Midway

Aug. 26 at Chattanooga Christian

Sept. 2 at South Pittsburg*

Sept. 9 Grace Academy

Sept. 16 at Whitwell*

Sept. 23 at Notre Dame

Sept. 30 Marion County*

Oct. 7 Taft Youth Center

Oct. 14 Silverdale Baptist

Oct. 21 at Copper Basin

* District 6-A game

One of the attributes that has helped Jamal Jones succeed in the classroom is his memory. The Lookout Valley junior can retain information and readily recall what he has learned, and those same skills could aid him in his effort to help the Yellow Jackets football team rebound from last year’s disappointment.

After five straight winning seasons, Lookout Valley slipped last year and missed the playoffs for only the second time in coach Tony Webb’s eight years with the program. The memory of last year’s woes stayed with Jones throughout offseason workouts, pushing him to become more of a vocal leader.

The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder will be the featured ball carrier on offense and moves from safety to linebacker on defense.

“I don’t let myself forget what happened last year,” said Jones, who has a 3.8 grade point average and is taking dual-enrollment college courses. “It made me a lot more determined to not let it happen again. We had potential last year, but injuries really took a lot out of us.

“I’ve conditioned so much more this summer to prepare myself for more carries and knowing that I’ll be playing linebacker and having more contact every game. I know it’s going to be tough playing two physical positions, but that’s my job to help us succeed.”

Jones, who has started since his freshman season, added nearly 15 pounds since last year and now is one of the strongest players on the team, bench-pressing 300 pounds and squatting 500. He is joined in the offensive backfield by fellow juniors Vann Scribner at quarterback and Toney Summerow, a receiver.

Lookout Valley averaged 45 offensive plays per game last season, and Webb said the plan is to get the ball in Jones’ hands at least 20 times a game this year.

“We’re going to feed him the ball as much as he can take it,” Webb said. “A lot of our offense is designed with him in mind. We want to get him out in space to allow his athleticism to take over. Jamal would be good in the I-formation or any other power-type offense because he’s more of a physical runner than any back we’ve had since I’ve been here.

“And as physical as he is, he’s also faster than [city career rushing leader] Chas Scruggs was when he was here. He’s going to get plenty of chances to show what he can do this year and hopefully help us get back to where we want to be as a program.”

MEMORY LANE

In what amounted to an early-October game in 2007 to decide second place in the region, Lookout Valley running back Chas Scruggs ran wild in a 54-26 win over Grace Academy. Scruggs bolted 71 yards for a touchdown on the game’s first play and finished with 325 yards and five touchdowns on 20 carries, averaging nearly 17 yards per carry.

He sat out much of the fourth quarter with leg cramps, and his total fell just 34 yards shy of the city’s single-game record. But it was part of an incredible senior season that helped him break the city’s career rushing record — 5,417 yards — a mark that still stands.

about Stephen Hargis...

Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...

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