Jones: ‘Always fun playing Jax State’

Published 10:44 pm Friday, July 18, 2014

“Two minutes and one second to go before half. Russell hands off to Jones. Jones slashes through a hole on the right side, and he is in the end zone again. Phillip Jones romps across goal line for his third touchdown of the day and Troy State has blown it open now.”

A lot of Troy fans can close their eyes and still hear veteran play-by-play man Ralph Black calling the game Phillip Jones calls “the best one I ever played.”

Jones, now the running backs coach for the Charles Henderson Trojans, starred for Troy State in the late 1990s and scored four touchdowns against rival Jacksonville State in a 49-0 rout in 1997.

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“It was always fun playing Jax State back then,” Jones said. “But it always a lot more fun beating Jax State. That day I had 100 yards before half time and ended the day with about 160 yards and four touchdowns.”

But Jones wasn’t a one-game-wonder. For three years, he was a key cog in the Troy ground game. Jones, along with LeBarron Black and Mareno Philyaw, helped the Trojans win the Southland Conference in 1996 and advance to the I-AA playoffs again in 1998.

A quick scan of the Troy record book revels Jones’ name is still strongly attached to the history of the program. Jones ranks eighth all time with 17 rushing touchdowns, his 1,727 rushing yards still ranks as the 14th highest total in school history and he is one of two Troy players to score four rushing touchdowns in a game. He was named to the All-Southland Conference 2nd Team following the 1998 and 1999 seasons, and served as offensive captain in 1999.

“We were an I-formation team back then,” Jones said. “We played power football with a fullback and tight end. Joe Jackson was our full back and was a great one. That is old school football and it doesn’t get any better than that.”

While Troy State used a grind-it-out, between-the-tackles running style, Jones provided a spark of speed when he was able to bounce a play in to open space. Some of Jones’ former teammates say they never saw him get caught from behind by a defensive player. Jones smiles when those stories are told.

“That’s what they say,” Jones said with an ear-to-ear grin. “I had pretty good speed back then. I wouldn’t say I was the fastest guy, but once I got to the corner it was hard to catch me. Playing at Troy State was a fun time, and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.”

Jones, originally from East Brewton, has called Troy home for the better part of his life since ending his playing career. He landed a job at Charles Henderson under Hugh Fountain, the same coach Jones played for in his high school days at W.S. Neal.

In addition to serving as an assistant on the Charles Henderson football staff, Jones is also the head track and field coach and still uses lessons learned from Larry Blakeney.

“Coach Blakeney is big on family, and treated all his players like they were his family,” Jones said. “You have to push your athletes to get the most out of them, and he always did that as well. But at the end of the day, you knew he really cared about you, and I try to do the same thing with our players here. We are all a family.”