Wow, what a difference a year makes. Currently for Orlando East River quarterback Josh Jones it means 10 interceptions, so far. In leading the surprising East River Falcons to a 5-0 record, Jones has thrown just one interception. Last year, he threw 11 and had just seven TD passes.
There were numerous camps and combines in Florida this past spring and summer. You name it, Josh Jones was there. He was at the Elite 11 Quarterback Challenge on Valentine's Day, the Nike Football Training Camp in Gainesville April 19, the NUC at Jones High, the South Daytona Beach Scout.com combine, went to an NC State team camp, Under Armour combine at Disney OK, you get the picture.
The lanky 6-foot-6, 170-pounder wanted to be the starting QB his senior year. There was possible underclass competition coming from Arnold Lusby. He needed to be ready.
"Hard work pays off and it's a great feeling, especially after throwing 11 last year," Jones said of his newfound ability to make better decisions. "I love the game so I'm just enjoying it more and I'm confident that my O-line will do work and I guess after last year I'm just not afraid to get hit."
Last year, he got hit a lot, and the Falcons, in their debut season, were just 1-9.
This year, with big men like 6-foot-9, 363-pound junior Adam Duckett, junior Micah Cross (6-1, 285), junior Ivan Rios (6-5, 285), sophomore Jacob Bear (5-10, 265), and the lone senior Andre Moralis (6-2, 250), there is no need for fear.
"We have come together very well," Jones said of the Falcons, who are in just their second year of existence and finally had the benefit of a spring season this year. "I've never seen a team that has wanted to work so hard for this. Last year was rough, but everyone who played last year wanted to do good and win. It was the little things that we weren't doing and now that we realize we can be good. We're doing the little things right."
Falcons new coach Mark Rankin is mixing the run with the pass in a way that helps Jones be successful. He picks his spots for passing plays and it has paid dividends in the turnover department. Jones has thrown for 463 yards and four TDs. He has been efficient, even if he's still under 50 percent for completions.
He won't throw an interception this week either. The Falcons are idle.
Phillip Amone meet A.J. Turman
Phillip Amone is one of the numerous NCAA Division-IA football prospects on the Dr. Phillips roster. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound Samoan doesn't stand out that much until the whistle blows. He has epic collisions with opposing players nearly every snap.
Friday night, we saw something that we won't see often. Boone RB A.J. Turman, who's no little guy himself at 6-foot-1, 194 pounds, came through the middle on one of his 22 carries with Amone charging. The impact could be heard in the parking lot, and it knocked Amone backward. He still made the tackle with help from his friends, but it was a rare punch that staggered the junior prospect. Of course, Amone would get his, possibly saving a touchdown on a Turman run later in the game.
Amone gets a bit lost in the midst of all these top prospects like Dee Hart, Ha'sean Clinton-Dix, LaQuentin Smith, Roderick Ryles, Darryl Monroe and on and on. All are seniors, all are Division I-A commitments, with the exception of Smith, and he will be. For Smith, it looks like he'll be heading to either USF or Arkansas. The seniors, however, look up to their junior warrior. In fact, to get the DP boys fired up prior to a game, Amone does an energetic Samoan dance just before the kickoff.
Not only does it fire up the Panthers, it also annoys the opposing team, which has to stand there and watch.
Howard is one high-flying Eagle
It's been well reported that Edgewater junior receiver, the brother of UCF receiver Quincy McDuffie, has gotten off to an incredible start to the 2010 season. And that was before Friday night.
Prior to that, Howard had 17 catches for 414 yards and four touchdowns. He also had rushed 31 times for 133 yards an no TDs in part-time work as a running back. In Friday's 55-6 rout of Liberty, Howard had 7 receptions for 143 yards and two touchdowns (35 and 16 yards) and five rushes for 37 yards and two more touchdowns (4 and 12 yards), doubling his TD output for the year.
Teammate RB/WR R.J. Altman also had a big night, with three touchdowns.
The Eagles, who lost their first two games to Dr. Phillips and Olympia, have won three straight and they take on unbeaten Winter Park on Thursday night at Showalter Field.
Chris Hays is the recruiting coverage coordinator for the Orlando Sentinel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.