Turned Around Jones Hopes To Turn Around Chiefs
Senior Quarterback Looks To Lead Carol City
By Josh Darrow
SFHSS Senior Staff Writer
Its said that “mom always knows best”.
In the case of Carol City senior quarterback Akeem Jones, that is 100 percent accurate.
When Jones was in the 8th grade, his decisions cost him -- hanging with the wrong crowd and skipping school got him shipped out-of-town.
Jones’ mom yanked him from his optimist team and moved herself and Akeem to Georgia for a year and a half to save her son from gangs, violence and drugs.
The 6-foot-3 athlete almost lost his life in February of 2008 during a robbery. Shaken by the experience, Jones gave his life to the Lord in April of 2008. Later that year, he returned home to Miami, a changed young man.
“My mom made me leave and it saved my life,” Jones said. “I had to separate myself from people that weren’t doing anything with their lives.”
Upon his return home to South Florida, Jones, who has been the starting quarterback for the Chiefs since the midpoint of the 2010 season, turned to his faith and an old optimist coach to guide him in the right path.
That path has led him to a good place being, to becoming a role model for his classmates, and to being one of the top recruits in Miami-Dade County in the class of 2012.
Last year, the Chiefs, who will face neighborhood rival Norland August 23rd in a preseason classic, finished 5-5, in one of, if not, the hardest district in the country – district 16-6A which includes perennial powers Central and Northwestern as well as 2009 Class 3A state runner ups Belen Jesuit and Homestead.
Chiefs head coach Harold Barnwell says his kids call the district the “SEC of high school football.”
The toughness of the district doesn't faze Jones though.
“We have one goal: to win a state title,” Jones said.
To get there, Jones spent the summer working with quarterback coach Lewis Cardona and playing with the South Florida Express and with Carol City in numerous high level 7-on-7 tournaments, including the Heath Evans, Battle By The Beach and the KSA in Orlando.
“I worked on my feet, ball placement and pocket presence,” the rising senior said.
He also worked on the mental side of the game, improving his ability to read coverages and eye the defense's alignment along the defensive line. Jones even studied tape of Cam Newton, Tom Brady and former Northwestern star and current Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Coach Barnwell took notice of the work from his quarterback.
“Akeem showed a lot of leadership this offseason,” Barnwell said. “He worked his tail off in the weight room.”
Jones will have plenty of weapons to throw to, as Barnwell thinks the wide receiver position is the most experienced part of the offense. Trayon Gray, William French, Greg Condi and Ed Rolle lead the way.
“Gray might be the most athletic player on the offense, maybe the whole team,” Barnwell said.
Don’t be surprised to see Gray take some snaps under center and Jones line up at wide receiver – they did it this summer on the 7-on-7 circuit. On defense, watch for the d-line and secondary to be a strength. Defensive tackle Aaron Thomas brings a lot to the table, Rolle also plays
defensive end, and the secondary is led by FIU commit Simeon Thomas, Jaylen Alexander, Christopher Johnson and Tyree Johnson.