Football practice had long been completed Wednesday afternoon.
Most of the McKinney North players had left the field, except for a few participating in some conditioning drills near the end zone.
But on the sideline, on a blue bench near the 50-yard line, sat junior running back Ronald Jones and North offensive coordinator Kyle Hardin. The pair concentrated on practice this week since the Bulldogs had a bye on the schedule.
The two sat alone for several minutes, with Jones saying the two discussed team goals and ways to make the team better.
And judging by the first three games of the season, handing the ball to Jones is a key to North’s success.
Jones has been making waves so far in the 2013 season, ranking in the top 10 in both rushing yards and touchdowns among running backs in Texas 4A football.
Jones has nine touchdowns on the young season – good for fourth in the state – and 541 rushing yards, which is seventh in the state.
Following practice Wednesday afternoon, Jones said he credits much of his success so far this season to the play calling by Hardin and the blocking by his lineman that he receives down field.
And when he gets the opportunity, he hits the holes and makes plays when running in space.
Jones, who totaled 99 rushing yards and two touchdowns during North’s 43-27 loss to Frisco Centennial on Sept. 13, is doing all this after suffering an injury during the track and field season this spring.
Jones said while running the 200 meters during track and field season earlier this spring, he “heard three pops” in his right hip, and knew something was wrong.
The official diagnosis, Jones said, was an avulsion fracture, which is when a fragment of a bone tears away from the main mass of the bone. The injury can occurs by a muscle contraction that is stronger than what the structure can hold.
Jones said he wasn’t able to run or lift weights for three months, and went through a series of physical therapy sessions and took his recovery slowly.
But now Jones said he feels better than ever.
“I feel I’m faster than I was before,” he said.
Hardin, who had not yet arrived from Rowlett to be North’s offensive coordinator, said Jones was getting over the injury and was running by fall when he arrived, so he first saw a back with great speed and the ability to be explosive.
And having a back like that, “is just part of the offense.”
“When you’ve got a guy like that you want to get it in his hands, get him in a grove and get in the flow of the game,” Hardin said.
But after such a strong start, defenses will began to target Jones and stack the box with seven or even eight defenders.
Jones said he will now have to “change it up” when pressing the defense ready for the run, and use his quickness and elusiveness. He noted he will have to get his pads lower when running through traffic to break arm tackles and gain yards after contact.
Hardin said gaining yards despite defenses loading the box is something the “good ones have,” noting they have the vision to make people miss, and the speed to run by people.
And that is what he believes he has in Jones.
“He will run through, around or over somebody,” Hardin said.
Jones and North will return to the field Sep. 26 when they host Sherman at Ron Poe Field.