Jones, the Lorain County Nightmares kicker, played a large role in both regular-season wins over the Saints this season, and hopes to continue his success when the teams square off tonight at 7 o’clock at Midview High School in the first round of the Premier Amateur Football League playoffs.
Jones, a 2010 Elyria High graduate, hit three field goals, including one from 51 yards out against a stiff breeze, in a 30-26 victory at Cleveland Central Catholic on June 7. Jones hit two more field goals — one from 45 yards and one from 27 — in the second meeting, a 34-26 come-from-behind win at Midview on
All told, Jones is 5-for-5 on field goals and 6-for-6 on extra points against the Saints (3-5) this season.
After playing soccer for one year at The University of Toledo and semi-pro soccer in Louisville, Ky., for three months, Jones thinks he has his position figured out.
“If they get me in range I’m always willing to go out there and give it my best shot,” said Jones, who is in his first year with the Nightmares. “If I make it or miss it, I just want to help the team as much as possible. I have a lot of confidence in my own ability and don’t overthink things. I have a short-term memory, and that’s something you have to have if you’re going to be successful kicking the ball.”
His longest kick of the season, the 51-yarder in Cleveland, opened the second-half scoring and gave the Nightmares (6-2) a 20-0 lead over the Saints. It ended up being a critical kick as Cleveland stormed back in the fourth quarter and pulled within one score at 27-20.
“Just the faith they had in me to let me go out and try that kick … that meant a lot,” Jones said. “I knew I had the strength to do it but they gave me the opportunity. I believe in myself and that showed my team believes in me.”
Jones hopes his work with the Nightmares this season could lead to bigger things. He’s 10-for-13 on field goals and 19-for-21 on extra points. Both his extra point misses were blocked.
“I’m hoping this gives me an opportunity,” he said. “I would like to try to go to the Canadian League or something like that. After the last Saints game, one of their players came up to me and told me he knew an agent with the CFL he would introduce me to, so we’ll see what happens.”
Tonight’s game could get personal, with Saints’ safety Charles Pugh playing the role of Public Enemy No. 1.
In the June 7 game, Pugh sent Lorain County receiver Adam Herbert to the hospital with a helmet-to-helmet hit that cost his team 15 yards and led to the ejection of his teammate, Brian Darden, for arguing the call.
After the hit, as Herbert was being attended to on the field, a number of Nightmares players watched as Pugh danced and celebrated on the Saints’ sidelines.
“We understand hitting is a part of the game, but how he handled himself after that hit lit a fire in us,” Nightmares defensive lineman Sonny Hazelwood said. “Adam is our brother, and when you do something to one of us you have to answer to all of us.”
Hazelwood said even though the teams have met since then, no one on the team has forgotten what happened in Cleveland.
“That hit is always in the back of our minds, so we will continue to make them answer for it,” he said.