How good was Mahar Regional in 2009? Then-junior Isaiah Jones ran for 1,716 yards -- and wasn't even the team's leading rusher. Yes, the Senators threw the ball a grand total of 37 times last year en route to a flawless 12-0 season and the Western Mass Division 3 Super Bowl crown.
Now in his senior season, the 5-foot-10, 165-pound Jones is the feature back, and based on the early returns it's a role he's flourished in. In just one half of play last week against Dean Tech, Jones had just five touches for five touchdowns -- two rushes, two punt returns, and an interception return -- for 311 all-purpose yards in a 46-12 win. He also wowed scouts this past summer at Boston College, running a 4.5-second 40-yard dash and clearing 40 inches on his vertical leap (he's also been timed below 4.5 in the 40 by hand). According to Senators head coach Jim Woodward, Jones is in BC's top four for defensive back recruits.
Despite of all the hype -- barring injury, he should surpass the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the third consecutive year, break the school's career rushing record, and may even get to 2,000 yards -- Jones is about as down to earth and level-headed as they come. He's humble, polite, and he says he barely uses his computer -- which, in this social media age of society, we certainly commend him for.
Jones, an Orange resident who made our preseason all-state team, sat down with ESPNBoston earlier this week following a practice to discuss his phenomenal speed, his new added role on the defense, and just what the heck there is to do out in the beautiful Western New England countryside.
Q: When you scored that fifth touchdown last week, what was your immediate reaction?
A: "I was happy with what I did. I didn't want to come out of the game though, obviously. We just had to do what we had to do."
Q: After a season like last season, the expectations have been elevated. What kind of goals did you set for yourself this offseason?
A: "Obviously, I want to win every game, that's my biggest goal. This hasn't been much of a goal until recently, but 2,000 yards."
Q: Is 2,000 a realistic goal?
A: "I think it's pretty realistic, yeah. I don't have to split the ball as much, think I'll be carrying the load a little bit more. More touches for me than last year."
Q: This part of the state doesn't get talked about much. Is the talent here underrated?
A: "This part? Yeah, I think so, little bit. I went to Boston College camp, and people there didn't even know of us. Never even heard of us."
Q: But apparently, you impressed them.
A: "Yeah. First couple days at camp, no one really noticed me. But once we started playing games, and I started running my routes, coaches started noticing me and watching me throughout the rest of the whole camp."
Q: What were others' reactions?
A: "They'd say, 'What did you run?' and usually they'd be like '4.6, 4.7', but 4.5? I was surprised, too. Like, wow."
Q: So what do people do out here in Orange?
A: "Nothing (laughs). Sports? That's all I do, so..."
Q: When you see a guy coming at you, what move are you inclined to pull?
A: "Stop and go, that's probably what I do the most. But I don't think I have one move in particular."
Q: How would you describe yourself as a player?
A: "I think I'm pretty...I don't know (laughs). I'm playing defense again, I didn't play much on that side last year. I can run the ball, i can catch."
Q: How has that transition to safety been?
A: "I'm catching on again. I think...I'm getting it. But I need a little bit more work."
Q: How pumped were you after seeing what you did in front of the scouts?
A: "Yeah, I was pretty pumped. I had run a 4.7 the year before, so I was really surprised with how well I did."
Q: How do you make a jump from 4.7 to 4.5?
A: "I have no clue (laughs)...my coach always says squatting is going to do everything for you. I'm up to 315 now."
Q: You play small forward on the basketball team. How many times have you dunked, and do you remember the dunks?
A: "I need to work on my shooting (laughs). Greenfield, I got a breakaway dunk. Mohawk, my sophomore year, got a tip slam. Both were one-handed."
Q: What are you doing before the game?
A: "Trying to get everybody's head in the game, get everybody ready, make sure they're not nervous. Then I focus myself on what I have to do...I don't listen to any music. Usually I just, before I talk to everyone else I just sit by myself and figure out what I have to do....I just stay to myself."
Q: Sometimes players will talk about those first-hit jitters. Does that happen to you?
A: "I don't think so. When I step on the field, I'm ready to go."
Q: So when you deliver that first hit...?
A: "I'm so pumped. I've got so much adrenaline going through me."
Q: What's on your iPod right now?
A: "Rap...let's see, I've got some Chiddy Bang, T-Pain, Lil Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj, stuff like that."
Q: What would you most like to improve upon this season?
A: "I want to get bigger. I want to gain some weight, but stay fast, try not to make any mistakes. I want to be mistake-free throughout the season."