JONESVILLE — An already successful season that saw them lose only one game came to an even more successful conclusion for the Jonesville Elementary/Middle School Wildcats Football Team who became their conference champions after another team forfeited the championship game.
In a statement released Monday, JEMS Athletic Director Jay Voiselle announced not only that the Wildcats were the season champions, but had also achieved a team first
“The Jonesville Football Season came to an unexpected end last week as the Foothills Conference Championship game was not made up,” Voiselle said. “With the other team declining to make the game up, Jonesville has accepted a conference-approved forfeit by the team. The Jonesville Wildcats are the 2019 Foothills Conference Champions in football. Jonesville finishes 7-1 on the season and 5-0 in the division. Jonesville finishes as division and conference champs for the first time as a middle school football team.”
In addition to announcing the championship, Voiselle also reviewed the commitment of the Wildcats and their performance over the course of the season.
This Year’s Team
Voiselle pointed out that the Wildcats set a goal for themselves and put in the effort to achieving that goal.
“The 2019 football Wildcat’s number one goal was to win the division, which is something that hasn’t happened in Jonesville Middle School Football,” Voiselle said. “The first thing Jonesville football did stepping toward that goal was committing to spring practice and summer workouts. These Wildcats averaged over 20 at summer workouts every day, which is excellent for a team of 30. We think of summer workouts as being just as much mental as it is physical.
“They have the freedom to choose summer workouts and they have the freedom to choose winning,” he said.” We don’t take attendance. So after summer workouts, we knew this squad wanted to win. Having kids who want to win makes it easy to coach. The kids get all of the credit.“
As for their performance on the field, Voiselle began with the JEMS offense and said that “the running game dominated for the Wildcats this season” and looked at the Wildcats who did that running.
• Cameron Owens
Cameron Owens only got bigger, faster and stronger his eighth grade season, finishing with 1,076 yards and 17 touchdowns in only 7 games.. Owens had multiple games with over 200 yards rushing and had limited carries in 2 games.
• Alijah Wood
Alijah Wood played smart and managed the game well at quarterback. Wood had never played quarterback before this season. He turned out to be a key factor in the running game as well.
• Will Turner
Will Turner led a group of receivers that enjoyed major success through the air last season, but embraced their role as blockers and key situational players this season. Turner had several spectacular and game saving receptions vs EP Todd.
• Jesse Jones
After Game 1, Jesse Jones embraced and committed to the center roll for the Wildcats and only had two bad snaps the rest of the season. Jones, John Bogan, Grayson Gossett, and Tavares Davis led the biggest and best offensive line in the conference this season.
Concerning the Wildcat defense, Voiselle said that it “was led by some straight up violent and nasty (in a good way) football players on the field” and discussed those players the leadership they provided.
Linebackers Mason Henderson, Will Turner, and Alijah Wood were returning starters from last year and only got better. Turner led in interceptions for a second year in a row.
• Defensive Line
The defensive line was led by eighth grader Deebo Woods, who played multiple positions and was the Wildcats’ best form tackler. It was Woods who tackled an EP Todd running back short of the goal line in a game saving play at the end of that game earlier in the season. Kendall Brannon and Rahderious Mayes also anchored the defensive line. Javion Brannon quarterbacked and led the defensive backfield for Jonesville at free safety. The Jonesville defense lined up right, flew to the ball, and had fun doing it.
• Gang Tackle
If one of our guys got banged up in a game, we were usually hit by our own players in a gang tackle situation. We had two of our guys arguing with each other one game because one took the other’s sack. I thought they were arguing with the other team. These kids took a lot of pride in defense this season.
Just as no man is an island, no athletic team is either, and that’s why Voiselle offered the team’s thanks to those who helped and supported the team throughout the season including the source of all blessings.
Our kids know that we thank God first. He placed us here in this situation and allowed all of this to happen, and we praise Him for everything first and foremost.
I have to especially thank our families for allowing us as coaches to do this. Many nights we were up at the school sometimes 10 p.m. or later planning.
• West Springs Baptist Church
Many thanks to West Springs Baptist Church and preacher Greg Black for all that they do. They fed our team all season, Greg did devotions, and they are holding a banquet later. Greg and his crew are truly doing God’s work and we appreciate all of their service. Greg assisted us in stressing success as first doing things right off of the field.
• Jonesville PTO
Much appreciation goes to the Jonesville PTO. They do an excellent job and take tremendous care of our kids. Stephanie Glenn, Dora Palka and crew are awesome.
• Jonesville Baptist
Jonesville Baptist donated snacks on a Saturday, so we thank them.
We thank Jerry Dillard and Ruritan for their contributions to the kids.
• JEMS And District Administrations
We thank our administration at Jonesville and the District. Kathy Taylor, Jennifer Deaton, Scott Sherbert and Brian Thompson let us do our jobs, trust us, and guide us throughout the season.
Voiselle also shared the story of a Wildcat who has battled illness to get back on the field.
“Levi Edwards is a current eighth grader and second year football player that has been battling illness since the summer,” Voiselle said. “He’s been on our sideline for a few games. Betty Jo Taylor got the team some #71 stickers for their helmets and we’ve been wearing them all season. He has not been able to suit up for a game. He’s worked hard this season to get his way back in, got his strength back up, get back to full speed in practice, and was suited up on the bus ready to play his first and final game last Thursday before it got cancelled due to weather.
“Even though Levi didn’t get in, we’re glad he’s back to good health,” he said. “He knows he’s as valuable as anyone on this team, he knows we love him, and he knows he’s a part of this. Levi was the motivation of many practices and why the kids played so hard this season.“
Voiselle also praised the JEMS Football Team Staff for their dedication and hard work.
“The great thing about this staff is that we all work together for the kids, putting them first,” Voiselle said. “There are no egos. Coach John Henderson and I handle mostly offense on game days while Coach Mark Ireton and Coach Craig Stewart handle mostly defense. We all 4 work extremely well together all of the time.
“Debbie Esposito is amazing as she kept ball boy Keyshawn Kershaw and the water in check all season,” he said. “Debbie Esposito and Coach Henderson do this voluntarily. They do not get paid a dime. Coach Henderson’s and Debbie’s positive attitudes, hard work, and love for these kids are what drive our team to be the best at everything we do. That love, selflessness and hard work effects everyone involved from players to coaches. It’s hard not to give your all to Jonesville watching those two and the rest who contribute freely do what they do.“
This story courtesy of Jonesville Elementary/Middle School Athletic Director Jay Voiselle.