Fifth-year head coach Albert Jones and his Meade Mustangs prepare to continue their sharp rise up the Maryland high school football standings.
Five years ago, Meade high school hired Albert Jones to be the head football coach of their varsity program. Since then, the team has gotten exponentially better as a culture of hard work captivates the players on and off the field.
Jones was a 2-sport athlete out of Brandywine in Prince Georges County. A two-time letter winner at Gwynn Park High School, Jones was selected first-team all-league by the Washington Post, Played in the Prince George’s County All-Star Game, and was captain of his team in 2000 when Gwynn Park finished second in the State with an 11-2 record. He was also part of two consecutive state runner-up basketball teams for Gwynn Park in 1999 and 2000.
Meade’s transition from mediocrity to the upper classes of AACo football has taken time, but the progress can’t be ignored. In his first season, Meade posted a 3-7 record. Before long, Meade was 6-4, just waiting to take that next step. Finally, last year, Jones and his Mustangs took the leap from pretenders to contenders.
Every season the Mustangs have a date circled on their calendars, the game against Arundel. The winner of the Meade-Arundel matchup earns the Mears Cup, a trophy named after former Meade and Arundel football coach Jerry Mears. Meade entered the game unranked as they faced off against the No.8 Wildcats, but managed a convincing 47-26 victory, making it the first victory for Meade since 2001.
With that victory in place, Meade jumped up to the No.9 position in the Baltimore Sun’s Top-15 and earned Jones the honor of being named the Ravens High School Coach of the Week. That victory propelled the Mustangs to an 8-2 season and a spot in the State Playoffs. Meade ultimately lost in the first round of the playoffs against Broadneck by a score of 35-6.“It means a lot,” said Jones when asked about how it felt to finally get the Mustangs back to the playoffs. But despite the early exit, Jones kept the achievement in perspective. “Everybody’s goal is to make it to the championship. Sometimes you get there; sometimes you don’t.”
Jones and his staff take a few weeks off from football after the season comes to an end, but come February the crew is back together and figuring out exactly how to help the team continue to take the next step. They start by getting the entire coaching staff together to discuss the positives and negatives of the season and figure out what changes they can make to help the team moving forward. One of the ways that happen is by encouraging his staff to attend coaching clinics all around the country. This past offseason saw members of his team in Charlotte and Clemson.
“I don’t want my staff believing they know everything,” said Jones, “there is always something to learn.”
Jones’s expectations of his athletes coming into try-outs are all about knowledge as well. Whether that be about how to take care of their bodies, their fundamentals, or their classroom performance. “We want a student-athlete who’s a student in the classroom as well as a student on the field,” said Jones.
Making sure the kids know what to put in their bodies as well as how to properly use them is a major theme that he stresses both during and after the season, and he credits his team trainer Jason Hickman with providing strong leadership in those categories.
- “Jason does a fantastic job of helping the kids understand what they need to do and how they need to do it,” says Jones.
Jones also has a unique situation being the head coach at a school located on an active military base. Many of his players are children to active duty military personnel. Unlike most schools in the area, Jones understands that he doesn’t always have the traditional four years that most coaches get with their players.
“It’s an interesting place because we have military kids that play on the football team with civilian kids. As easy as they come, they can go,” said Jones, “I work with what the kids give me, we don’t think about what could be.”
However, no matter how long they’re on his team, Jones does everything he can to help his players grow. “That is the ultimate goal. Help these gentlemen become young men, and do it in a successful manner.”
With only a few more weeks until their first game, Jones and his staff are working hard to keep the program moving forward in the right direction. He believes that there is a two-tiered approach to making that happen. Keeping a program that continues playing December football, while keeping focused on the fact that you have to win in September to do that.
Meade’s season begins on Friday, August 31st when they host South River at 6:30 pm. Make sure you’re following ShellBack Sports on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @ShellBackSports.