Jones Senior holds first football practice since Hurricane Florence
Jones Senior players go through stretching exercises Monday in the team’s first practice since Hurricane Florence. Photo by Junious Smith III / Neuse News
TRENTON | Jones Senior’s football season is far from done.
Hurricane Florence severely affected the region, destroying numerous homes in the process. Hundreds have been displaced due to the storm and for many, it seemed the 2018 campaign would be a foregone conclusion on the gridiron.
On Monday, most of the team was on the field for a volunteer practice, looking to resume the season.
“I heard rumors that we wouldn’t be on the football field, so it’s good to get these practices in,” Trojans senior Brendyn Schaefer said. “(The morale) was down when we thought we wouldn’t have a season, so everyone’s excited and ready to get back out there, especially after all of the damage done from the hurricane. We’ve all got something to look forward to.”
The Trojans’ last game took place on Sept. 6 against Kinston with the next contest slated for Oct. 16, Jones Senior’s conference opener against Williamston Riverside on the road. Trojans head coach Greg Hampton said players have been affected severely, but still wanted to participate.
“We have kids who lost their homes and the whole nine yards,” Hampton said. “They’ve got more important things to think of than football. With the devastation of what happened — also losing (Jones) Middle School and (Trenton) Elementary — people don’t realize how families have been affected. It’s tough, but now we’re trying to start school, try getting back to athletics and some kind of normal activity.”
Trojans’ senior Syheen Sauls said he was constantly keeping in contact with Hampton to see if the season would continue.
“I was texting Coach every day like ‘when are we going to play,’” Sauls said. “It really hurt watching other teams play — they’re out having fun while we’re sitting in the house waiting for the call saying we got practice. We were just hoping and praying every day.”
Jones Senior sophomore Jacob Kinsey said he would work out during the time off, hoping for the opportunity to get back on the field.
“I just kept going outside, doing things to exercise and stay in shape,” Kinsey said. “We’re going to work on getting better after the hurricane and keep getting after it.”
Trojans defensive coordinator Tyler Hale said he stayed in contact with the team throughout and while safety was the primary concern, he knew the players wanted to keep competing.
“I just wanted to make sure they were OK, because we didn’t know what was going to happen for a minute,” Hale said. “We didn’t know who was displaced, who would be able to come back. I just told everyone to keep the faith.”
Jones Senior is planning to play all six of its conference games — which would be done in a little over four weeks — yet another storm could derail plans even further. Although the developing Hurricane Michael isn’t projected to cause nearly the amount of damage as Florence, the storm could force a delay against Riverside, prompting the possibility of three consecutive weeks of two games for the Trojans.
Hampton said the team will try to play no matter what, but health will be the biggest factor.
“If I don’t feel like we have enough kids to compete, we’re not going to do it,” Hampton said. “We’re not playing with 12 kids. We hope to have at least 18 with us and we’ll fight, but we won’t take chances with a schedule like this.”