Jones overcomes apprehension to shine for Tigers

Tucker Jones readily admits apprehension was a factor for him two weeks ago when his team faced Sweet Water in a preseason Jamboree contest.

The game represented the first real contact Jones faced since sustaining a significant leg injury in the fifth game of the 2011 season, an ailment that kept him sidelined for the remainder of the campaign.

“Probably the first two weeks of full pads and two-a-days, I was a little nervous about coming back. It kind of went through my mind every day before practice, ‘What if I twist my leg wrong or hurt it or something?’ But, now that things are kind of getting back into the swing, I feel a lot more comfortable every day,” Jones, Demopolis High’s starting quarterback, said. “I think it was just, me being out so long and not playing, I was afraid I was going to make too many mistakes at Sweet Water. And then, once I kind of got the hang of things and figured out what was going on last week, things just started to click. Coaches have been talking to me (telling me to) relax, take my time. That’s what I did.”

The difference in Jones’ comfort level – and, subsequently his performance – from the Sweet Water contest to last week’s season opener against American Christian Academy was nothing short of remarkable.

“It was a huge difference. You could tell he worked a lot harder in practice,” Demopolis offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Kyle Williams said of Jones. “He made the plays that we wanted him to make in the Jamboree and made the right reads in our first game against ACA. He’s come a long way in just one week. We expect him to keep going and keep growing.”

Jones settled in early against American Christian, completing his first pass of the season to Cortez Lewis for a touchdown.

“That’s huge, especially when one of the first few passes of the game turns out to be a touchdown,” Jones said of the confidence boost he received on the play. “It felt good. It calmed me down a lot. And you’ve got your teammates there to support you too.”

“Very important. Just a confidence thing off the top,” Williams said of the importance of getting Jones in rhythm early in the contest. “That first pass for any quarterback is just always huge for him. It’s just always a big thing.”

Jones went put together one of the biggest games of his high school career after completing that pass to Lewis, finishing that night with three touchdown passes and a 28-yard score on the ground.

“That’s one of Tucker’s best games he’s had since he’s been here,” Demopolis head coach Tom Causey said. “I think Tucker wants to do as good as anybody else and he’s been a great teammate. Things have gone the other way for him sometimes and it is easy for a player to kind of get inside himself and be selfish. He’s never done that. He’s always stepped up.”

With plenty of opportunities ahead of him, Jones hopes to improve upon last week’s performance, a feat that will come much more easily since he left his uneasiness somewhere between Sweet Water and Tuscaloosa.

“I feel tons better. Nothing is bothering me right now,” Jones said. “I know I’ve got good support from the guys on the team. I feel really good right now.”