Only cliches like "when the going gets tough, the tough get going" can succinctly characterize the perseverance this season of St. Mary'ssenior midfielder David Jones.
"Quiet determination" is what his lacrosse coach Jim Moorhead calls Jones' style. And rarely has a guy with so common a name exhibited such uncommon valor.
Jones, who is headed for the highly touted University of Virginia, is recovering from a collapsed lung suffered in a game against Annapolis in the Al Laramore Lacrosse Classic earlier this season.
Theworst seems far behind him, although he has played for most of the year without benefit of protective shoulder and rib pads that Jones says "restrict my breathing."
"I still wear the arm pads and gloves,but sometimes I still take a beating," said the 5-foot-11, 170-poundJones, who has scored 17 goals and eight assists. "But I really feelbetter without them."
Jones' goal production is down from a year ago when he scored 24 with one assist, but he has more than compensated with creativity, speed and sheer aggression.
"When he plays hard, I don't think there's a middie around who can stop him one-on-one," said Moorhead, who in his 12 seasons has sent several midfielders to Division I colleges.
"He's got a real good work ethic, and he's stayed in great shape. We've got several players who are scoring thisyear, but David knows he's got to lead the team on offense and in the midfield. He's got the ability to beat most players and he's been creating unsettled situations and opportunities for his teammates to score."
A case in point came in the Saints' 10-6 victory over visiting St. Paul's last Tuesday. The Saints held a shaky, 7-5 lead when aSt. Mary's player was called for having an illegal stick, leaving the home team a man down for three minutes.
The Saints seemed on theverge of giving in before Jones came to their emotional rescue.
He was setting up an offensive play when three Crusader defenders collapsed on him. Two defenders stayed with him as he searched for an open teammate, then made a run for the goal. Even under double coverage,the crafty senior still was able to get off a shot -- which was blocked -- before Ryan Kelly collected the rebound to score.
"The way he ran by those two guys -- that's the mark of a great player," said Moorhead. "David can single-handedly create unsettled situations. He's a natural lefty, but he's learned to shoot right-handed. And with his speed and physical ability, he's just a pure threat to put pressure on the other team. And his ground-ball play is excellent -- he comes up with quite a bit of them."
Jones was grounded and lay writhing in pain after taking a hard shot in the second quarter against Annapolis -- a game the Saints had well in hand.
"I had a long stick on me but I had a step on him so I was looking to shoot the ball," said Jones, 17. "I had already released the ball and I was watching it go toward the goal -- which was dumb -- then I got hit. But at halftime, I felt all right."
So Jones re-entered the game, scored two more goals and helped the Saints demolish the Panthers, 15-1.
But there were complications later that evening. "I was out with some friends and all of a sudden, I couldn't even breathe," said Jones. "It was incredible."
When Jones returned home, fortunately a doctor was inthe house -- his father, William.
"We took him to the hospital and got some X-rays done and discovered that the impact had caused 10 to 15 percent of his left lung to collapse," said William Jones, a county medical examiner and family practitioner.
Doctors told David not to engage in any physical activity for at least 10 days, forcing him to miss a victory against Baltimore's Mount St. Joseph.
"I was in some pain, but there was no greater frustration than having to watch from the bench even for just one week," said Jones. "But even if (doctors) said I could have played, I couldn't have run if I tried."
And as it turns out, there may not have been a better antidote forJones' ailment than getting back in action. In only his second game back against Loyola, Jones scored four goals as the Saints nearly pulled off the upset of the season, losing, 11-10, in overtime.
Said the elder Jones: "If he wasn't in good shape and with his conditioning,there's no way he could have recovered as quickly as he has."
Jones has scored 54 career goals with 16 assists. He maintains a "B" average.
Jones is eager to join former teammate Ray Kamrath, who plays in the midfield for the University of Virginia. And Cavaliers coach Jim Adams is anxiously awaiting his arrival.
"We're looking forward to him coming here -- he's a good all-around midfielder. We're very impressed with his speed and the fact that he's a natural left-hander," said Adams, whose No. 5-ranked Cavs (9-3) have been ranked as high as No. 1 nationally this year.
"There will be opportunities for him right off the bat. Graduation is going to hit us pretty hard inthe midfield so he's got a chance to come in and play early. We recruited him with that in mind, but he'll have to work hard."
So willthe Saints (11-2 overall, 7-2 in the Maryland Scholastic AssociationA Conference), who are on top of the Division I standings. The Saints could secure the top seed in the playoffs and a home-field advantage with a victory over second-place Loyola (6-3, 6-3) tomorrow. A losswould yield the No. 2 seed.