Growing into the position

q&a: sam jones, severna park, football

He didn't start his career as a quarterback, but he has excelled since stepping in

November 20, 2008|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Special to The Baltimore Sun

Severna Park senior Sam Jones didn't begin his football career as a quarterback. But he has excelled since stepping into the role for the first time last season.

This season, he has produced more than 1,800 yards of offense and 22 touchdowns, helping the Falcons rally from an 0-2 start to gain a berth in this weekend's Class 4A East title game.

In a recent interview, Jones talked about about his team's run to the playoffs, his dream of attending the Naval Academy and the profound effect of losing his mother to cancer when he was a freshman.

Your team started 0-2 this season after failing to make the playoffs for the first time in five seasons a year ago. How difficult was it to rebound from that start?

Well, we started 0-2 last year, too. It came down to the last game, and we ended up losing to Broadneck to not make the playoffs. So this year when we started 0-2, we knew that we just played two of the best teams in the county [Old Mill and North County], so we weren't too down on ourselves. We knew we were a good team that could get it together. We didn't lose confidence.

The team came into this season having graduated 24 seniors. How concerned were you about needing to fill all those holes?

The biggest losses we had were on the offensive and defensive lines - I think we lost all but one starter on both. So we knew there were some questions there, but we also knew we had some kids who could step in, and they've done that wonderfully. If anything, I think there's been an improvement, especially when we got to games five, six, seven. ... I don't think I've been touched passing the ball the past three or four games [in the regular season].

Do you feel you've improved a lot this year as a passer?

Definitely. I didn't even play quarterback until Week 1 of last year [he had been a wide receiver]. We needed a backup, and I had an OK arm, so they just put me there. This year, we didn't have a quarterback, so I went in with the perspective that I'll do what I can and just not make mistakes. But as the season was going on, I think I really improved passing. I've started to see things - things have slowed down a lot more than they were before.

You're an All-County attackman in lacrosse. Do you still consider lacrosse your first sport?

I'm going to play lacrosse in college [at the Naval Academy]. I love lacrosse. I will tell you that in football, the atmosphere around the team is unlike any sport I've ever played in my life. It's just the team atmosphere that you get with football ... it's just really something special.

From here, you'll be moving on to the Naval Academy Prep School in Rhode Island, then on to Annapolis. How important was it to you to attend the academy?

My dad went to the Naval Academy and my granddad went to the Naval Academy. That really had absolutely no bearing on my choice. But I remember my dad bringing me up here when I was, like, 6 years old, when we lived in Texas. He brought me up to the Naval Academy. Ever since, it's kind of been a lifelong dream to go there.

What are your hopes for after college?

After I graduate the Naval Academy, I plan on being a Marine. I'm an OK student, but I'm not naturally good at school. The only thing in school that I'm naturally good at is social studies courses, so I'll probably end up majoring in history. But I've kind of always wanted to be a coach, so I don't think it would be a bad thing to come back here and be a high school teacher and a coach. I think that would be kind of cool.

Any coaches who have really inspired you along the way?

I had a JV basketball coach named Paul Bunting. I don't think anyone has ever found a way to make me more angry or inspired me to work harder. Every time I'm out working by myself, I think that he taught me how to do that. But every coach I've had here at Severna Park has been absolutely great. Every single one.

You lost your mother, Connie, to cancer when you were a freshman. How did that change you as a person?

I wear No. 11 in everything I do for her, because she was born on the 11th. The examples that she set for me while she was alive and while she was battling cancer ... those are lessons that I would never otherwise be able to learn. She was extremely brave during that time, and she just set such a good example for me. Every day when I think of that, it inspires me to be a better person.

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