Jones Senior hopes to break long skid in 2019
TRENTON — New coach, same mentality.
Jones Senior started its initial football practice Thursday, and the “Ironman” football implemented by the Trojans over the years will continue. Only 14 players were at the practice, the lowest across the area, as the Trojans look to pick up victories in 2019.
Jones Senior has lost 22 straight contests, picking up its last win in the first round of the NCHSAA 1A playoffs, 38-30 over Manteo on Nov. 18, 2016. The Trojans also have a new head coach and one of the youngest in the state, if not the youngest — 24-year-old Tyler Hale.
As the Trojans’ running backs and linebackers coach last season, Hale said it wasn’t tough to get acclimated, especially as his predecessor — Greg Hampton — took a role as the defensive coordinator.
“These coaches are a great group, the students have taken well to me and we’ve been rolling ever since,” Hale said.
Hale said he knows it’s going to be a tough season with the number of players, but the team won’t back down. Despite a final roster of only 22 players, the Trojans had a pair of losses in 2018 by eight points or fewer, falling to South Lenoir 20-12 Aug. 24 and nearly knocking off Pinetown Northside 22-20 Nov. 1.
“I’ve been pumping them in the weight room, trying to get them bigger, faster (and) stronger,” Hale said. “That’s the only way we can get better. We’ve tailored our offense to our personnel, and my main goal is to get that first win.”
Jones Senior guard and linebacker Michael Taylor said the team is focused on breaking the long skid.
“We’ve been working on getting better every practice and getting ready for whatever comes at us,” Taylor said. “We know we’ll be playing bigger schools this year, so we have to play bigger and hit harder. We can’t lose any more.”
Aaron Marshburn, who will play center and defensive tackle, said it’s been an adjustment but the team has adapted.
“The first day of summer workouts were tough, but it got easier as we went along,” Marshburn said. “Coach Hale really drives everyone to succeed.”
Trojans quarterback and safety Derek Taylor said the team will showcase its heart every week.
“We’re putting in a lot of work and we’ll have it before our first game,” Taylor said. “We’re not a big school, but we’ve got a lot of heart and we’re going to need to show it every week.”