Like his older brother Tommy, Philip Jones had thoughts over the years that he may try something other than coaching high school football.
He was interested in being a college strength coach when he graduated from South Carolina, where he played offensive line. He coached briefly at Presbyterian before a job opened up at his alma mater, Brookwood, that he couldn’t turn down.
After three seasons there, he went to seminary school for a year in Orlando. When he finished, he coached high school football three seasons at Walton and the past two at Ware County, where he was the offensive coordinator.
Now 32, Jones was hired recently as the head football coach at Banks County.
“Whether I wanted to admit it or not, (coaching high school football) was always natural for me,” the 1997 Brookwood grad said. “Sometimes when you grow up around it, that’s how it is. When I went to seminary for that year, that’s when I realized how much it meant to me and how much I missed it.”
It’s easy to see why it left a void. The sport has centered around his entire life.
His father Tom has coached for 41 seasons, including the past 23 as Brookwood’s offensive line and strength coach. Older brother Tommy is the head coach at Lumpkin County. His uncle Steve was a longtime coach at Walton and McEachern, and his cousin Matt coaches at Pope.
“My brother would agree with this, but our dad is our biggest mentor and our role model,” said Jones, who has three daughters ages 5, 3 and two months. “He made such a difference throughout his career with so many kids. It’s not just his passion for the game but for the kids, too. There’s no doubt we’ve enjoyed the life we grew up with. It’s what (Tommy and I) wanted for our kids, too.”
Jones’ first head coaching job comes at Banks County, where he replaces former Peachtree Ridge coach Blair Armstrong (hired at North Forsyth to replace Jared Zito, now at Dacula). Banks has suffered through hard times since 2000, but managed two winning seasons in Armstrong’s four years, including a 7-3 record last fall.
He hopes to continue that improvement over the next few seasons. And if he needs advice, he can look to his father or his brother, who has made Lumpkin more competitive in his five seasons there.
“We always tell people we’re like the mafia, but (high school football) is our business,” Jones said.
Will Hammock can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Thursdays.