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High school football: Oak Hill standout Jones hard to keep up with

By Dave Morrison

OAK HILL, W.Va. -- It was one of those career-defining moves, the kind that takes on an extra life as the years pass.

For Oak Hill's Jalen Jones, however, his double-spin move that resulted in a 47-yard touchdown run in the Red Devils' eventual 40-0 win over Nicholas County on Sept. 13, the move, on sheer difficulty, should stand the test of time.

On Oak Hill's first offensive series, Jones took a handoff from quarterback Deon Marion. The cat-quick Jones, seeing no hole, bounced out to his left. With a defender over-pursuing, he did a 360-degree spin to elude the would-be tackler. He continued to the outside, and once again, used a complete spin to fake out another defender. From that point, he went untouched to the end zone.

A double spin before he had crossed the line of scrimmage. As opponents are finding, keeping up with Jones is becoming a tough task.

"I knew the first spin was going to work, because the defender was over-pursuing," Jones said. "The second one, I don't know where that came from, but it got me free, so I took it."

For jaw-dropping disbelief, it may have been the play of the year in high school football. It certainly was Oak Hill's top play, in a season that has seen Jones make a lot of moves.

As for Jones, he simply stopped in the end zone, flipped the ball to the official and was mobbed on the sideline by teammates. Another day at the office, and he basically shrugged it off as no big deal.

"Coach (Eddie Souk Jr.) makes me work on that stuff every week in practice," Jones said. "Spin moves, stiff arms, all kind of stuff I can use in games."

The play, and the game in general, showed that Jones is as versatile a player as any in the state.

In the win, Jones carried the ball 11 times for 187 yards and three touchdowns. He also returned a punt for a touchdown. He kicked four extra points, had two punts downed inside the 5-yard line and also consistently kicked off inside the 10-yard line.

On the season Jones has rushed for 830 yards on just 68 carries (11.9 yards per carry) with 12 touchdowns. He has six punt returns for 195 yards and a touchdown, four kick returns for 80 yards and is 18 of 22 on extra points and has a pair of 2-point conversions. He has 100 points through four games.

More important, Class AAA Oak Hill, up from Class AA for the first time in over a decade, is off to a 3-1 start, and is ranked No. 12 in the state. The lone loss was to No. 4 Elkins in the season opener.

Jones success has directly mirrored that of the Red Devils. Souk's team has rushed for 1,687 yards (421.8 yards per game) and is averaging 469.6 yards of offense per game, which includes wins over Webster County and Princeton as well as Nicholas County.

Souk and Jones know where the credit goes: To the offensive line, led by all-stater Brandon Williams.

"I've had a lot of great linemen but this is the hardest working group of linemen I have ever been associated with," Souk said. "These kids have all worked their tails off. They set the standard and the expectations and everyone else follows suit."

Williams has a chance to be the first player in West Virginia to make all-state in Class A, AA and AAA without transferring schools.

He was an all-stater at Mount Hope in 2010 and when the schools consolidated last fall he was a Class AA all-stater.

"I have given a great deal of thought to that," Williams said. "I really think I can do it and I want to do it.

"It would mean a lot. Being the only person to do it and being able to say I played at all three levels and got rewarded at all three levels."

The Oak Hill defense has limited opponents in the three wins to just 33 points after it surrendered 43 in the loss to Elkins.

"I think we are getting better each week on the defensive side of the football," Souk said. "The kids are starting to buy into what we're doing and they're starting to understand what's going on out there."

Against Nicholas County, Oak Hill's defense recorded 12 plays for negative yardage.

Jones thinks the Red Devils are a potential playoff team in their first year back in the Class AAA ranks.

"Absolutely," Jones said. "We just have to prove it. Coach always tells us nobody can stop us but ourselves. And I'm starting to believe that. I see us being a Top 15, Top 12 team. We have to improve each week, watch film and keep our head right. We'll be all right."

Williams agreed.

"I definitely think we can make a playoff run," he said. "We just have to keep doing what we have been doing. Against Princeton we put up 500 yards rushing. We kind of take a little credit for that on the line. We have to keep doing that. We have to play smart."

Oak Hill begins a tough second-half stretch by hosting Shady Spring this Friday and Point Pleasant next. The final four games are on the road.


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