Jones ready for second season

Published 8:16 pm Friday, August 5, 2011

South Creek coach Jeremy Jones (left) heads into his second season with the Cougars feeling more prepared thanks to having a full offseason with his team. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

ROBERSONVILLE — At this time last year everything must have felt like a blur to Jeremy Jones. The first-year coach who was tabbed to give birth to South Creek football also watched as his wife gave birth to their first child, all while trying to move into a new residence.
“This time last year I had been (at South Creek) about a month, most of my coaching staff had come on about a week before practice. My wife was pregnant and had a baby about a week before our first game. We were moving; living with the in-laws as I was trying to start a football team from the ground up with about four weeks to go before our first game,” Jones said.
My how things have changed in 12 months.
“This year, we started in February and we were able to come out a couple of weeks ago and call offensive plays and guys new what to do,” Jones said. “We had over half our offense already in and our defensive guys new how to line up in a base defense, so now we can start fine-tuning things.”
It would be safe to assume that familiarity has never been more welcomed, but that assumption would not necessarily be correct. Yes, Jones is thrilled to have some stability as he and South Creek enter their second year. However, after the Cougars went 0-11 and finished last in the Four Rivers Conference, some things had to change.
The first thing to go: the team’s losing mentality.
“You can get into the habit of ‘oh we’re just a losing program, we’re no good.’ I think a lot of these guys took a hit to their pride a little bit last year,” Jones said. “It’s still a work in progress to get them to understand what it takes to win. I think when you’re a team like a Manteo, Plymouth or Riverside people in they’re community know what it takes to win … I want them to understand what it takes to get there.”
To help instill a winner’s mindset Jones has reached out to former Roanoke players like Kenneth Hyman. Hyman was a key player on some very successful Redskins teams before the school merged with Bear Grass in 2010.
Jones is hoping that South Creek’s new approach will help it execute its new playbook. In 2010 the Cougars ran a triple-option attack with a flexbone look on offense and 3-4 base formation on defense.
Jones has not abandon the triple-option, he has just created some new ways and plays to go along with it.
“We’ve got a funny little deal, I don’t really know what to call it. We’ve have kind of designed it so we have a spread side and a tight side,” Jones said. “We’re pistol in the backfield and we got a true doubles (two receivers) look to one side, then we got a tight end with a wing insert to the other side. It’s kind of like a bunch look to one side and a spread look to the other.”
Jones said he came up with the formation while trying to figure out a way to incorporate the jet sweep into his offense. The move will give his team a much broader playbook heading into the 2011 season.
“We’re going to triple-option primarily, but we wanted to add a few other things with it,” Jones said. “We basically got three series we are going to run: the jet series, a trap series and a triple-option series. If you want to break it down, about a third of our snaps we want to throw the ball, a third will be triple-option and a third we run our other packages.
“I love the triple and the one thing in this conference is that everybody’s wing-T people, so what we have tried to develop in our other sets is kind of a shotgun, wing-T philosophy with a lot of ball fakes.”
South Creek had about 45 athletes show up for practice this week, with a large portion of them being lean, which has spawned another change for the Cougars.
“We’re going 4-2-5 on defense. It started out as a true 4-2-5 with a five-man shell and I read up on a lot of TCU stuff and kind of adapted some of their philosophies,” Jones said. “They’re playing with a lot of these long, lanky guys and they’re out there being the No. 1 defense in the nation every year so I’m thinking they must be doing something right.”
TCU went to the 4-2-5 in an effort to combat the emerging spread attacks. South Creek plays in a conference that is dominated by under center, run-orientated offenses. However, Jones said his defense can quickly adapt.
“We’re going to put our fifth safety as more of an outside linebacker-type. When they face power football teams they wind in more of a 4-4 look and that’s probably what we will end up in a lot of times. Our philosophy is that, besides our linebackers and D-linemen – We aren’t going to have guys that will line up and smack you in the mouth but we can fly around in space. We’re going to make your left tackle come up and try to block our safety in the open field and we are going to bet that we can get around him.”