October 22, 2020

Braves’ Sophomore Sensation

Article written by Corey Cusick and provided courtesy of The Times-Georgian

(Franklin, GA) — To say that Emory Jones got thrust into the varsity fire as a freshman last fall is a bit misleading.

It’s certainly true that the young Heard County High School quarterback started every game for the Braves in 2014, but it wasn’t because of a rash of injuries or the cupboard simply being bare at the position.

Make no bones about it, Jones earned the right to start as a freshman. And his game more than backed up that decision.

“We had more depth at the QB position than we’ve ever had last year. He came up as the summer progressed and he separated himself from everybody else,” Heard County head coach Tim Barron said.

“So, in a sense, he had to go in there young, but he was ready. We thought he was ready. Obviously, he was young and made young mistakes and we understood that. But as 14-year-old, he was making less mistakes than the others and he was ahead of those others.”

It wasn’t the smoothest of sailing for the young signal-caller, especially early in the year when the Braves’ roster was dismantled by injuries. You couple that with a difficult non-region schedule and it amounted to a 1-4 start.

But as Region 5-AA play settled in, so did Jones and the Braves, rattling off a 4-1 record and No. 2 seed for the Class AA state playoffs. The lone blemish during that stretch was a road loss to Bowdon, a game that ultimately turned the season around for Heard County.

“As a team, we came together after the Bowdon loss,” Jones recalls. “We came together as a team and we really grew up together after that game.”

Jones helped engineer a pair of playoff wins — a 28-21 first-round decision over Wesleyan and a 28-6 second-round triumph at Screven County — to send Heard County to its first quarterfinal appearance since 1990 and its deepest playoff run in program history since the quarterfinals came in round two back in 1990.

The Braves nearly pulled off an amazing win in Game 13, dropping a 35-34 thriller to Brooks County.

Still, reaching the quarterfinals, to go along with a pair of preseason scrimmages, marked 15 varsity starts for Jones as a freshman. He now enters his sophomore season with that experience, which many senior quarterbacks can’t say they have coming into the 2015 campaign.

And it wasn’t like Jones was just handing the ball off 50 times a game, as the HC coaching staff installed a lot of gun read option where he had to make split-second decisions every Friday night.

Sophomore Brave QB Emory Jones (Photo: Corey Cusick/ Times-Georgian)

Sophomore Brave QB Emory Jones (Photo: Corey Cusick/ Times-Georgian)

“It was exciting. I felt comfortable by that time of the season. I felt real comfortable with the team,” Jones said of the playoff starts.

Jones, who already has an offer from Mississippi State, spent the better part of the summer traveling around the Southeast, competing in elite quarterback camps at Clemson, North Carolina and making two trips to Alabama.

Barron said while it was tough to not have him with the team, it was an opportunity Jones couldn’t pass up and one that will undoubtedly make him a better quarterback down the road.

“Others wanted him there, too. He just couldn’t be in five places at one time,” Barron said. “A lot of those camps were at the same time, but he had to narrow it down to certain schools that he would go see this year and I think next year his traffic may be a little bit different. A very, very busy summer. We’re glad that the summer camps are over and we’ve got him back with us.”

With the onset of fall practice beginning this week, Jones is excited to be back with his teammates and is looking forward to leading the HC offense in an even bigger role in 2015.

“I think we’re going to have a good season. We have more skill players than we’ve ever had,” Jones said. “I’m just really excited about it.”

Jones will have more responsibility on his shoulders this fall, but Barron is confident his sophomore sensation will be up to the challenge once again as his body, game and leadership skills continue to mature.

“It’s hard to be a leader when you’re still learning. You’re just trying to do things right to not hurt the team, so it’s really hard to lead,” Barron said. “We expect him to this year play with a lot more confidence and with that confidence he’s going to be able to make more plays for us. As that progresses, I think his leadership role is going to grow.”

(Editor’s Note: The Braves first scrimmage will be open to the public for “Midnight Madness” at 12:00 a.m. this Friday night/Saturday morning at Staples Stadium.)

Comments

  1. Well said coach. Positions must be earned not given Emory keep working hard and continue to follow your dreams and stay prayed up.

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