Through a dreary and winless 2012 season, Plainfield High School’s football team could count on at least one positive. That was running back/defensive back Steven Jones.
What Jones did at times was remind Cardinal fans of the good old days, not that distant in fact. The thought was shared by coach Clint Jones (no relation to Steven), who was coach of the Cardinals during the late 1990s when Darryl Kennedy, Maurice Bowers, Fuquan White and Anthony Davis helped get them to consecutive North 2 Group IV finals in 1997 and ’98.
The objective isn’t as demanding especially this season after a 0-9 season. Plainfield’s game with North 2 Group V champ Elizabeth wasn’t played due to the aftermath of superstorm Sandy. Plainfield hasn’t won since it stunned Westfield 22-21 in 2011 on Thanksgiving Day.
Jones started at running back and corner that day, a day that ended with coach Bill Nyers’ announcement that he would be leaving the Cardinals after two seasons.
Nyers played Jones as a freshman when the Cardinals went 4-6, making the North 2 Group III playoffs. So he has sampled some recent success. Jones was invited to Stony Brook University’s camp this summer and was timed at 4.45 for the 40. He ran a best of 11.6 in the 100 for the Cardinals track team. His specialty is the high hurdler where he clocked a 14.45 to place fourth in the outdoor Union County Championships.
“Steven has the power of Darryl Kennedy, the speed of Anthony Davis,” said Clint Jones. “But not the mental toughness of Fuquan White; we need him to have it.
“Steven has to be the man if we’re going to get where we want to go,” the coach added. “He needs to put us on his back and say ‘Let’s go.’ “
When asked where he could play Steven Jones, the coach said, “where do you want him to play?”
Clint Jones wants 1,500 yards in total offense from Jones. The youngster is definitely capable. He has shown to be a good receiver, and very good after he catches the ball.
Jones caught three passes for 47 yards in a season-opening 37-8 loss to Immaculata last season; rushed for 98 yards in a 28-6 loss at North Hunterdon — North led 7-6 at halftime. Jones ran for a 35-yard touchdown Thanksgiving Day against Westfield and even threw a touchdown pass to Amir Bradley for Plainfield’s only score in a 24-6 loss at Montgomery.
Jones ran for 364 yards on 84 carries for the season.
“We have a positive team, who love being around each other and a bond,” said Jones, who has worn No. 22 since Pop Warner in tribute to Cowboys’ Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith. “We’ve been practicing hard and everybody is hungry for a win.”