Josiah Jones

Josiah Jones was an offensive lineman as a youth football player. Now, he’s a reliable running back and forceful linebacker for Walkersville’s varsity team.

Josiah Jones has played in big games before, like the one Walkersville will host Friday night against unbeaten Catoctin.

In 2017, Jones earned considerable playing time as a freshman — primarily at running back and on special teams — for a supremely talented Walkersville team that went 11-0 before falling to Damascus in the Class 2A West regional football final.

“People might not realize that we weren’t as deep as we usually are in the offensive backfield, and we felt he was a good player who could contribute,” Lions coach Joe Polce said.

Since then, Jones (6-foot, 210 pounds) has grown more than two inches and added almost 60 pounds — numbers that seemingly increase by the week — to his already muscular frame.

His role on the team has expanded, too, as he leads Walkersville’s typically deep backfield in carries (40 for 204 yards and two touchdowns) while becoming a bone-rattling linebacker on defense.

“Very instinctual, fast, powerful, vicious at the point of attack,” Walkersville’s defensive coordinator, Tyler Thompson, said. “His ability to get to the football and tackle in space is phenomenal.”

Polce believes Jones has the chance to be a Division I outside linebacker in college.

“I am not sure if it will be a Power Five [conference] school,” Polce said. “But he has a shot.”

When Jones arrived at Walkersville High, he had never carried a football in a game and could barely outrun an offensive lineman.

As a young kid, he struggled to make an impact as a soccer player before his brother, Zamarre Snowden, a former running back for Walkersville and Linganore, convinced him to give football a try.

Since he was a bigger kid and exceeded the ball-carrying weight, Jones was primarily consigned to being a lineman on offense. He had no concept of letting his blocks develop, finding the right hole or running with a ball in his hand.

But Polce saw his size, strength and natural athleticism. He pulled Jones aside in the school’s weight room and told him he was going to play running back.

“I said, ‘OK. I play whatever you want me to play,’” Jones said.

Polce could have let Jones cut his teeth for a season or two on junior varsity. But pulling him up to varsity as a freshman gave the Lions some depth and allowed him to hang around better players and learn things faster.

“It was a great experience playing behind Jacob Wetzel and Ty Littleton,” Jones said, referring to a pair of former standout running backs at Walkersville. “I learned a lot from those guys. They taught me that it’s a dogfight every time you play.”

Through improved strength and conditioning, Jones became a much faster and stronger player. His time in the 40-yard dash dropped from 5.3 seconds to 4.7.

“He has really worked to get a lot better,” Polce said. “He has been playing at varsity speed for three seasons now.”

Still, there are moments when he won’t read his blocks properly and he’ll miss the available crease in the defense. He has to remind himself to keep his eyes up and resist the temptation to put his head down and bull straight ahead.

In the midst of his third season as a running back, Jones admits that he is still “a work in progress.”

But he has time to improve, as he is only a junior, and the Lions will be ready to reap the rewards.

Follow Greg Swatek on Twitter:

@greg_swatek

(3) comments

KingKam

Yes, a great article.



"When Jones arrived at Walkersville High, he had never carried a football in a game and could barely outrun an offensive lineman.



As a young kid, he struggled to make an impact as a soccer player before his brother, Zamarre Snowden, a former running back for Walkersville and Linganore, convinced him to give football a try."



If you listen to the video interview with Coach Polce and the player posted on FNP's Facebook page, Jones says he never played for GVAA (Walkersville's youth program). He did play somewhere, though, according to the article.



So this was exactly my point about how the local youth football feeder system is not really helping and, in some cases, is hurting (re. TJ). Sure the high schools get kids that know a watered-down version of the "system" their high school runs, and maybe some of the terminology, but what high school coaches really want are athletes. Any good coach is confident they can teach athletes what they need to know to be successful... they don't really need parents, sometimes with their own agendas and often untrained, trying to do that job. It might help in some circumstances, and occasionally it might help a lot. But in most cases it doesn't help that much.



Just give kids the opportunity to play and develop their athleticism, and remove impediments to that (like boundaries). The rest will take care of itself.



But I'm also a realist, so I know the feeder system isn't going away. Given that, and seeing the success of Jones and lots of kids like him, MVYFL should consider letting kids in the TJ feeder pattern play for any organization in the league until they have an opportunity to form their own organization. And those organizations, with the overall goal of improving local football, should welcome those kids.

DickD

Parents can be a help, many times they are not, especially when they have input to coaches to get favorite treatment for their children. it happens in Middletown. Still, for the most part it is not a problem. And I have seen coaches try to make athletes out of brilliant students - not here, but without the physical ability that does not work either.

DickD

Good article, Greg. Walkersville is basically a running team, so it will be interesting to see how Jones does against Catoctin. Looking at comparible scores, Catoctin should win by about 15 points. Neither team plays a very tough schedule.

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