BY GENE NARDI
In May, senior Jake Jones will graduate from Seminole Ridge High School and then make the transition to Division I college football. Jones has worn the Hawks’ colors his entire high school career, but this fall he will don a different uniform. The first team all-state center earned a preferred walk-on position with Florida Atlantic University.
The future Owl admits that it is a little overwhelming, but welcomes the challenge. “I’ve started working with coach Lord again to prepare for the fall,” Jones said.
Coach Jalani Lord was the Seminole Ridge lineman coach for most of Jones’ high school career, and continues to work with Jones.
Linemen often get overshadowed by other players in the skill positions that carry the ball, but Jones’ performance and dedication shined this season. Jones is also a standout on the Hawks’ weightlifting team. He recently placed first in districts and helped his team win the district title with a 655 lb. combined score in the pause-bench and dead-lift events.
“Seminole Ridge has always been known for its weightlifting, and it has definitely helped me on the football field,” Jones said.
The 6-foot-1, 293-pound Jones has been playing football since the tender age of 4 and is anxious to prove himself worthy as an Owl in the fall. Jones made reference to the several Seminole Ridge alumni who currently play for the Owls and looks forward to joining them. Antonyo Woods and Roman Fernandez, both linemen for the Owls, played for Seminole Ridge. Jalen Young and Kerrith Whyte also kicked off their college career as Owls last season.
“I’m looking forward to playing with those guys again,” Jones said.
Jones has quite a résumé under his belt. After playing in the Acreage Tackle Football League, he played on the freshman team his first year as a Hawk. From there, he was moved up to the varsity squad after his freshman season. He earned all-county second team as a junior.
His senior year was his breakout year. He was elected as first team all-county and first team all-state. In addition, he was selected to participate in two all-star games, the FACA All-Star Game in Orlando and the 21st annual Palm Beach County All-Star Game.
Jones selected FAU over other offers because he felt a connection with the coaching staff, and his offensive line coach, Lord, is an Owl alum as well.
“He’s like a big brother to me,” Jones said. “He has worked with me and is preparing me for this.”
Jones is a family-oriented young man, and he stressed the advantage of being close to home and having the family support behind him. “My mom and dad are always there for me,” he said.
Jones will begin attending classes in the summer. He is sure to make an impact as an Owl.
Jones acknowledged the quickness with which one’s high school years pass. “Take in every moment and enjoy it, and stay on top of your grades” was his advice to those who will dress out as high school athletes for another year.
ABOVE: Senior Jake Jones of Seminole Ridge looks for a Pahokee defender to block during a recent game.