New role, new outlook for Jones - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

New role, new outlook for Jones

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Posted: Friday, July 16, 2010 5:50 pm | Updated: 3:26 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

These are simpler times for Jim Jones.

The football coaching legend admits he wasn't happy in his final season with Red Mountain last year, the place where he won a pair of state titles and was the only coach the school had ever known.

While he still loved teaching the game to his players, the duties went far beyond the field.

There was constant pressure from parents to find their sons playing time and a scholarship, and the administration stressed the importance of keeping up with the state's elite programs by any means necessary.

"That wasn't the way I was going to function," Jones said.

So Jones went back to basics.

He's coaching the offensive and defensive lines at San Tan Foothills, a 3A school that went 1-9 last season and will likely have only six seniors in the fall.

The goal there isn't a state championship. Instead, it's about building a program from the ground up, teaching fundamentals, and, just as importantly, life lessons.

"I should have done this four or five years ago," Jones said. "That's nothing against Red Mountain by any means, but the pressure of running a program is totally off my shoulders. I don't know if it's more rewarding, but you feel better about what you're doing. You get the feeling it's appreciated more."

While Jones grew tired of the administrative duties, he never lost his love for coaching.

After splitting with Red Mountain, the original plan was to help out his son, Preston, the coach at Perry.

But that role was undefined and Jones found himself with too much downtime.

"For about three weeks, I'd get up in a hurry to do nothing," Jones said. "I kind of got depressed because I really had nothing to do."

Enter Roger Schenks, who lived down the street from the Jones' family as a child and grew up with Preston.

Schenks, a Red Mountain assistant coach last season and previously the head man at Seton, was hired as the coach of San Tan Foothills in January and immediately put out the feelers to Jones.

"We had talked before the season ended, and I asked him about the future," Schenks said. "He wanted to continue coaching, and it didn't matter what it was. He had such a bitter taste from last year. Once I applied for the job, I asked him, ‘If I get it, would you come?' Boom, just like that, he said yes."

The team's summer weight lifting sessions begin at 7 a.m., and the drive from Jones' house to the school in Queen Creek is about 20 minutes. He also will be teaching at the school in the fall.

But Jones feels productive, not overworked.

"I can't handle not having something to do," he said. "Football's not a job. It's a hobby."

Players at San Tan Foothills are arriving 10 minutes early to weight-lifting sessions this summer, and participation in the program has almost doubled from last year.

The school is buzzing in the presence of two respected football minds.

Jones feeds off it. Schenks said the man he sees now is a completely different person from the one who finished up last season broken down.

"It's the winning and the losing, the behind-the-scenes stuff, the paperwork, the parent's issues, the little things that stress (head) coaches out," Schenks said. "He gets to be the assistant, the good guy that jokes around with the kids. He gets to go and teach and coach.

"A lot of time, you forget about that stuff. You get caught up in the other things. Then you see him with the kids, and they've got his personality. They're always joking around with him. It's a blast to see."

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