Dacula’s quarterback Aaron Grove (5) carries the ball against Archer during high school football action in Lawrenceville last week. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)
If emotions were as high for Dacula coach Tommy Jones as they must have been during last week’s game against an Archer team coached by his former high school teammate Andy Dyer, just imagine what it must be like preparing for Friday's Region 8-AAAAAA game.
The Falcons (2-3, 2-1) welcome Brookwood (1-3, 1-1), Jones’ alma mater, to Barron Stadium for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff, with not only one of his former high school coaches, Broncos’ head coach Mark Crews, standing on the opposite sideline, but two other people who hit even closer to home.
But this won’t be the first time Jones has coached opposite his father, Brookwood offensive line coach Tom Jones, or brother, Broncos offensive assistant Philip Jones.
Tommy has coached against his dad and the Broncos several times as an assistant at both Dacula and earlier at South Gwinnett, while he and his brother have squared off in a scrimmage while Tommy was head coach at Lumpkin County and Philip was leading Banks County’s program.
Still, it does add another dynamic to what is already an intense region rivalry.
“We’re a very close family,” Jones said. “We love to compete, and it will add some intrigue to the game. But at the end of the day, it’s a big region game. It’s more about the kids at Brookwood and the kids at Dacula.”
And if the history of this series is any indication, Friday's 12th meeting between the Falcons and Broncos should be a classic, old-school, grind-it-out affair that Region 8-AAAAAA games have long been known for.
Both teams have relied on classic formulas of a strong running game, power along both sides and stingy defense throughout the season.
And both seem to be improving on those qualities as the season has gone along.
Brookwood saw more tangible results of that improvement last week by running for 222 yards, 191 of them from sophomore Jesse Brown, in last week’s 10-0 win over archrival Parkview.
While Crews definitely is pleased with the work of Brown and the rest of his running backs, he also says the improvement on the ground is just as much a by-product of the return to health of several key members of the offensive line, as well as the line’s jelling together as a unit.
And he knows being able to run the ball will be a major key for the Broncos Friday against a Dacula team looking to do the same thing.
“We both try to play to our strengths,” Crews said. “Tommy’s like us in that (the Falcons) will try to control the ball and play good defense. We’ve played a little better each week. We started out a little green (on the line) and with a lot of injuries, and we played some pretty good teams. But I’m proud of the fact the kids kept hanging in and working hard and getting better.
“We’ve gotten a couple guys back (from injury), which helps us, obviously. And Jesse now has a few games under his belt. You add it all up, and we’re more capable on offense.”
Likewise, Jones has seen a steady improvement from Dacula’s running game, which figures to be even better with Jacque Evangelister back from an early-season concussion to add to an already deep corps of runners that includes C.J. Mayes and quarterback Aaron Grove.
But the Falcons got taken out of their comfort zone when they were forced to the air after falling behind in the second half of last week’s loss to Archer.
So, Jones believes a big key for the Falcons this week will be for them to grab an early foothold by getting ahead, and then staying there.
“It’s always important to stay ahead of the chains,” Jones said. “We can’t put ourselves in a difficult situation. We know Brookwood’s going to be well coached, and they’re going to be big and strong. So, we have to be really focused on playing Dacula football.”
Still, while the focus for both coaching staffs will be on the field during the game, there will be some focus on the sidelines afterwards.
Having already faced one of his former players, Crews admits its still a special time when he squares off against someone so close to the program, especially with the family ties Jones has.
“There is an emotional part to it,” Crews said. “Obviously, their family will have some bragging rites. It’s all on the periphery, but all the cliches sort of fit.”
The one member of the Jones family who won’t be present Friday is Linda Jones — Tom’s wife and Tommy and Philip’s mother — who passed away after battling an illness last winter.
It is the first time she won’t be present to witness a “family feud” on the football field, and her presence will definitely be missed.
“She’d have been very proud of her husband and her boys,” Tommy Jones said. “We all miss her more than we could ever say. This kind of game would’ve been right up her alley.”
BROOKWOOD AT DACULA
Brookwood Broncos (8-AAAAAA)
Coach: Mark Crews
Record: 1-3, 1-1
Last week: Beat Parkview 10-0
Dacula Falcons (8-AAAAAA)
Coach: Tommy Jones
Record: 2-3, 2-1
Last week: Lost to Archer 31-14
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Brookwood won 45-17 last year
Directions to Dacula High School: From Highway 316, go north on Highway 8 approximately one mile and school is on the left.
2012 — Brookwood 45, Dacula 17
2011 — Dacula 20, Brookwood 6
2010 — Dacula 24, Brookwood 14
2009 — Dacula 23, Brookwood 17
2008 — Brookwood 9, Dacula 6, OT
*2005 — Brookwood 23, Dacula 14
2005 — Brookwood 34, Dacula 14
2004 — Brookwood 14, Dacula 7
2003 — Brookwood 42, Dacula 14
2002 — Brookwood 28, Dacula 3
2001 — Dacula 28, Brookwood 20
2000 — Brookwood 24, Dacula 10
• — Class AAAAA state semifinal at Georgia Dome