SURREY — It’s hard not to speak in superlatives when you’re talking about one of the most complete football players in Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers’ football history.
Yet perhaps the greatest compliment that you can pay senior Terrel Jones is to say that he is not the team’s punter.
“He could do it for us and he did it a little bit last year,” begins Panthers’ head coach Kurt Thornton, “but this year we have chosen to not have him as a punter because we have to have some point in a game where we can actually talk with him.”
That’s the situation you create when you bring a palette of skills so complete that you play a critical role on every snap in all three phases of the game, and besides, LT offensive coordinator Nick Kawaza does need a second or two to chat with his starting quarterback along the sidelines over the course of a game.
That will once again be the case Friday as the No. 4-ranked Panthers (4-1) host the Mission Roadrunners (1-4) in a 2 p.m. clash on its Cloverdale campus. The contest doubles as Lord Tweedsmuir’s final Eastern Conference regular season home game.
As the both team’s starting quarterback and starting free safety, Jones additionally handles kick-offs, as well as kicking field goals and extra points.
Yet when you study his development path, one paved with blue-chip football influences, it’s not hard to understand why Thornton is so bang-on in describing him as the ultimate old-school player.
It all starts with the CFL background of his dad, Kirk Jones, and includes a myriad of other pros who also helped his development, including the legendary Geroy Simon, the many members of the veteran LT coaching staff, and perhaps most of all, his older brother Trey Jones, the former Tweedsmuir pivot now playing for the BCFC’s Langley Rams.
Earlier this season, as a guest on the Varsity Letters podcast, Thornton offered the following when asked about Jones’ presence on the field.
“The coaches in this day and age all say that there are not as many kids who can throw, catch, punt… do all of the things, like when we played football at recess and after school,” Thornton began. “It’s not happening as much as it used to, but it is clear (Jones) grew up with that. And if you can do all of those things, your value goes up. He tackles really well, too. He can do it all. He’s an old-school player and the kids feed off of that. And then when your quarterback is the one who makes biggest hits on defence, how can you not get excited?”
FOOTBALL JONES… HE’S GOT THE FOOTBALL JONES
He’s only 17 and, checking in at 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, not the most physically imposing presence you will encounter on the football field.
Yet Jones says he got his weight up to 174 pounds heading into the season, and that his commitment to getting bigger, faster and stronger is ongoing.
“At the end of Grade 11, I looked in the mirror and I asked myself ‘Are you playing football, or are you going down another path?’ So I committed to two workouts a day for three straight months and my mom helped me with a meal plan. I eat four meals a day.”
And now, he is hoping that he has raised the physical presence he can bring to a game to the same level that his cerebral game had always been at.
Terrel Jones’ offensive numbers from the pivot position are not at the top of the statistical charts among AAA quarterbacks, yet when it comes to efficiency, he simply does what needs to be done, and he does it with a maturity rare for a 17-year-old.
“I feel like personally, when I start to look at my stats, that’s when I force plays,” Jones said. “It’s first-and-10, so you say ‘Oh, I can take a big shot here’ but that’s when the picks come, from selfish play. When I step up to the line on first down, a lot of kids might look at the whole field first. The first place I look is at the 10-yard marker.”
At the high school level, so many times it will be the smart quarterback who will out-play the gambling one.
Jones has passed for 444 yards and rushed for 289 over six games, sharing a part in nine Panthers’ touchdowns over that span.
Yet another 16 have come from his teammates, led by running backs Noah Anderson, Haydn Stomperud and Tremel States-Jones.
In the end, it all works with efficiency because Jones is able to manage down-and-distance with such solid reasoning, and even able to audible at the line of scrimmage as he works with offensive coordinator Nick Kawaza.
“He’s too good a defensive player to not have on the field,” adds Thornton of having his starting quarterback selling out with such physicality from the secondary. “But he plays the same way on offence, too. If we’re not in a clock situation, and he is running the ball and he needs a yard or two, he will run you over to get it. At the same time, he also understands as a guy who forces turnovers on defence, that it’s OK to punt sometimes.”
THE MEANING OF NO. 2
Lord Tweedsmuir football has built great tradition in the 16 years since it started its program.
The lineage of its players and their shared kinship was reflected in a recent win over Abbotsford when a large contingent of past grads, who just happened to be prowling the sidelines, were called out on the field in impromptu fashion at halftime.
Jones was likely too busy with the actual game to have noticed, yet he is very much one of those who will continue that legacy of strong family ties to the Surrey team.
In fact it isn’t too hard to get a bead on how important it has been for him to follow his brother Trey through his own senior season with the Panthers, succeeding him at various spots throughout the journey at the quarterback position.
The best way to hear that story told?
Just ask Terrel Jones about the football jersey numbers he’s worn since his days as a pup in Cloverdale Minor Football.
When older brother Trey quarterbacked Tweedsmuir to the Subway Bowl AAA junior varsity title in 2016, he wore No. 11.
“After he won it, I was like ‘He’s my older brother and he just won a provincial title wearing No. 11, so I’m going to do the same thing,” Terrel says.
Of course the history books show that in 2017, Terrel donned his brother’s old No. 11 and led the Panthers to a 29-28 win over Vancouver College for a repeat JV B.C. crown.
Trey then kept No. 11 through his entire senior varsity career, and thus when Terrel arrived at the same level as a Grade 11 last season, he had to not only pick a new number, he had to wait his turn before he could do so.
“By the time it was my pick, there were some numbers in the 20’s, and then there was No. 16 which was one of the smaller jersies and it fit me.”
So he wore it.
Yet as Trey graduated and Terrel hit the training trail over the off-season, the two brothers found themselves talking a lot about just how important a detail Terrel’s number was going to be in 2019.
“It might sound silly, but it was a big decision,” Jones said. “It was a big debate and we really talked about it for a few days. We went back to the days when we played together in the community. Back then, Trey was the first-born so he always wore No. 1 and I always wore No. 2. One day he just told me, No. 2 always looked really comfortable on you.”
And thus over his final high school season, Jones has gone back to his old, original No. 2.
The reality is that it’s a tribute to his older brother and the importance he places on the time the pair were able to spend playing together on the football field.
Yet there’s another way to look at it as well: Ask Terrel Jones where he sits in the pecking order of a football team, and he will always put the team at No. 1 and ahead of himself.
For that alone, he deserves to wear the very next number.
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