NCS Senior of the Year
AUSTIN JONES, BISHOP O'DOWD
Before all the awards are handed out for this football season Austin Jones of Bishop O’Dowd may garner a few, but the Stanford-bound running back gets his first major award as a Christmas present after being named the 2018-2019 Prep2Prep Senior of the Year for football.
Prior to Jones coming to O’Dowd the Dragons had won three North Coast Section titles from the time the NCS re-started section championships in 1975. Since he arrived for his freshman 2015-2016 season O’Dowd has won two in the four years Jones has been the primary running back, been a runner-up once, and a semifinalist the other year.
Very few running backs in the history of the state have put up the kind of numbers Jones has, not even his coach, Bishop O’Dowd Coach and 1990 Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Football State Player of the Year Napoleon Kaufman when he was at Lompoc.
Last season, the 5-11, 190-pound Jones surpassed the magic 2,000 yard mark for a season for a running back when he ran he ran for 2,005 yards and 24 touchdowns, and that number would have been higher had not the fires wiped out a game.
In an NCS Division II 16-15 victory over Marin Catholic Jones had 157 yards on 22 carries with one touchdown. The model of consistency was over 100 yards in all 13 games he played in, and scored a rushing TD in all but two games. Jones was over 200 yards rushing twice including a season-high 213 yards and two TDs in a season-opening loss to De La Salle. The versatile Jones even had a 100-yard receiving game in a loss to St. Mary’s-Stockton and finished the season with 378 yards receiving and one touchdown.
As a junior Jones ran for 1,560 yards and 23 TDs and the year before he shined as a sophomore with a career-high 27 touchdowns and 1,967 yards rushing. His freshman season Jones had 1.370 yards on the ground with 12 touchdowns.
What that translates into is four 1,000 yard rushing seasons for a total of 6,902 yards rushing with 86 touchdowns. While none of his single season marks comes close to making the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book the 6,902 yards currently cracks the top 20 on the Most Rushing Yards (Career) list in the Record Book and is second all time in the NCS and the Bay Area to the 7,948 yards of current Alabama running back Najee Harris when he was at Antioch.
It’s also quite a bit more than the 5,146 career yards of Kaufman, who went on to become the career rushing leader at Washington before a solid career with the Oakland Raiders, but Kaufman’s high school career was less than three years, and if Jones can go on to do what his coach did, he will have done very well.
Through it all Jones remains humble, plus even after the well-traveled young man, who was born in Georgia, but moved to South Carolina, Florida and Missouri before landing in California for the eighth grade, he didn’t know anything about his coach’s prowess as a running back.
“I really didn’t know who coach was until I met him at his church, but yes he’s been a big influence on me,” said Jones about Kaufman, who has a ministry in the Tri-Valley area and is also still the Raiders team chaplain.
“A lot of guys need attention and need to be known but not me,” Jones continued. “To me the most important thing is having a mentality of going out there and working hard every day.”
Those qualities in Jones that have rubbed off on the team coupled with the leadership of Kaufman have certainly translated into success at the school up in the Oakland hills.
“We were a band of brothers, a family,” Jones remarked. “We weren’t playing for the stats, we were playing for each other and that’s why we won.”
“It has been tremendous having Austin for these four years,” Kaufman said. “This kid was a starter since his freshman year and never missed a game. His consistency and longevity in unmatched.”
Because of his offensive exploits the defensive side of Jones game this past season is often overlooked. He played defensive back and had 32 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery, and two batted passes.
“He started both ways every game and did not give up a touchdown all season at cornerback,” Kaufman said.
“The thing about him that makes him even more deserving of an honor like this is he’s such a humble kid,” Kaufman continued. “This is the one thing that characterizes him and the level of how he’s carried himself the whole time here at O’Dowd.”
And now it’s on to Stanford where he will join three other Bay Area recruits on The Farm, St. Francis-Mountain View defensive end Joshua Pakola, San Ramon Valley-Danville linebacker Tristan Sinclair and Livermore tight end Bradley Archer. When asked about it the word “family” came up again more than once, particularly since Jones, Sinclair and Archer all played last summer for the K.T. Prep 7-on-7 team.
“It’s really exciting thinking about Stanford,” Jones said. “It’s close to home and my family can see me play, and with the local guys going there I know, we’re already like a family.”
For his efforts throughout the season, we are pleased to recognize Austin Jones as the Prep2Prep North Coast Section Senior of the Year.
Other players considered for this award include Liberty’s Sione Vaki, Cardinal Newman’s Dino Kahaulelio and Eureka’s Tyce Mullins.