ALAMO – This year’s senior class at Crockett County High was the freshman class when head coach Kevin Ward came to the school from Camden.
Senior running back Johnny Jones, Jr. is a part of that class and was a part of that first season when the Cavaliers went 3-7 in 2011.
Jones said they learned a lot of lessons during that season and the subsequent seasons in which the program has begun to bounce back with records of 6-5 in 2012 and 7-4 last year.
Those lessons have made the Cavaliers smarter, but they also get motivation from some of the bad times they experienced when he was a ninth-grader. While many of them came from losses to opposing teams, one of them came from within their own school in Alamo.
“We got booed at a pep rally by our own student body,” Jones said. “We were having a bad season and hadn’t won much, and I think we were having homecoming against Milan.
“We had a pep rally, and when we were introduced everybody booed us.”
While the players didn’t enjoy the less-than-warm reception from the people who typically support them, Jones said that experience has helped the team the last two years.
“It hurt us and broke our hearts,” Jones said. “But this year’s seniors and last year’s seniors, we all came away from that and said we will never be a team that gets booed by our own student body again.
“We were going to be a team they wouldn’t want to boo and be more proud of.”
The Cavaliers have done that. The seven wins the Cavaliers got last year is more like the Crockett County program West Tennessee football fans have become familiar with over the last few years.
While Ward said he’d like some wins over better teams, Jones said he thinks the team is primed for a run at a district championship and long playoff run. He said a lot of people outside the program thought the same thing last year, and too many players in the locker room bought into it a little too much.
“We had injuries last year we had to deal with – me included, but at one time somebody picked us to compete for the state championship and a lot of guys believed it too much,” Jones said. “I’d say I was one of them, and our heads got too big for our shoulders.
“It took some losses for us to think a little more realistically. We’re not doing that this year. We know anything we get this season we have to work for.”
Jones is trying to avoid being hurt like he was last year. In a preseason scrimmage in 2013, he was tackled and another player fell on his leg. The pop he heard and the pain he felt signaled a hairline fracture at the bottom of his fibula. He missed most of the first half of the season.
“That was something else that broke my heart,” Jones said. “At first I thought I might miss the whole season, but I was relieved to find out I would just need a walking boot and I’d be back in a few weeks.
“But I still hated being out there at Bolivar [in the first game of the season] wearing that walking boot with shorts and a t-shirt. I wanted to be out there in full pads ready to go.”
Jones said he’s back and ready to go this year, and he’s glad there’s more depth in his position because of his injury and other guys needing to step in for him.
“We want to all go out there and do our jobs out there to make Crockett County football one of the best out there again,” Jones said. “We still have a lot to prove – even to those people that booed us three years ago.”
Brandon Shields, 425-9751
Bench max: 330
Squat max: 470