There is no substitute for experience.When Jesse H. Jones High School head football coach Ronald Hooker looked at his returning list of players for the 2009 season, he saw multiple departures due to graduation. Yet there was a staple he could count on – three-year starting quarterback Aaron Taylor.
Jones won the District 22-4A championship outright in 2008 with a 7-0 ledger. However, only nine starters returned, including five on offense
When we came into the season and several publications had made Aaron the preseason Most Valuable Player in the district after he passed for 2,235 yards and 25 touchdowns a year ago, everybody knew he was the center of our team,” Hooker said.
“I would like to run the ball because I was a running back in college. But the bottom line is that Aaron can throw the ball.”
The 2009 edition of Texas Football Magazine noted that since Hooker was elevated to head coach during the early stages of the 2007 season, he had amassed a 12-6 record, but that this season might present his greatest challenge. It went on to say that at least he returns Taylor, one of Houston’s most unsung players.
Following lop-sided losses to Class 5A playoff schools Chavez and Alief Taylor, Jones gained its first victory of the 2009 season against Reagan before opening district play against neighboring South Park rival Houston Sterling.
The Sterling Raiders drew first blood following a 45-yard completion from quarterback Darnelle Jones to wide receiver Montra Scott that set up Brandon Thomas’ five-yard TD run.
Jones answered with an eight-play, 70-yard scoring drive where Taylor completed five consecutive passes to open the drive before scampering 15 yards for a first down to the Sterling 10-yard line.
Following a two-yard gain by running back Thomas Bradley, Taylor tied the game at 7-7 with an eight-yard TD run.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game because many of our key players were gone from last year,” Taylor said. “We’re just trying to get better as we go along. I think we can have a good season.
“I’m one of the leaders of this team and everybody does look up to me,” Taylor said. “If I play well, they’ll play well, and that’s what I try to do in each and every game.”
After misfiring on his first pass attempt of the game, Taylor completed 11 passes in a row. The eighth was a 17-yard TD strike to wide receiver Musa Mahmud with one minute, 22 seconds remaining in the first quarter that gave Jones a lead it would never relinquish (14-7).
Sterling closed the deficit to 14-13 near the end of the first half with a 30-yard TD pass from Jones to Jorey Goodwill. Yet the point-after-kick was missed and the Falcons held a one-point advantage at intermission.
Jones did all the scoring in the second half.
Taylor tossed a 24-yard TD pass to Michael Holmes to start the scoring in the second half.
“I was just playing football,” Taylor said. “Most of our opponents come out looking for the pass. So my coach told me to look for big running plays when I can and that’s what I do.”
Taylor finished the 35-13 victory over Sterling with 214 passing yards on 20-of 31 attempts with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The first interception was a “Hail Mary” attempt on the final play of the first half.
Jones will face Kashmere this week and for added emphasis, this will be the annual homecoming game. The Falcons are 2-2 on the season, but more importantly 1-0 in district play.
The Jones coaching staff will await the results of the first six-week grading session this week.
“I think we’ll be fine with “no pass, no play.” I don’t anticipate any problems for myself or my teammates,” Taylor said.
“Coach (Hooker) said this will probably be our toughest game of the season,” Taylor said. “If we just come out and play hard, I think we’ll get the job done.”
Taylor began playing football when he was in the fourth grade. He attended Hartman Middle School and he’s been a quarterback from day one. At 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds, he’s not the biggest specimen under center, but he makes up for a lack of size with an oversized heart.
If he doesn’t make it to the professional level in football, he’d eventually like to graduate college and return to Jones as a teacher and coach. Once again, there’s no substitute for gaining experience.