By JEFF BOMBEN
Meet Keaton Jones. He’s a 22-year-old running back/wide receiver who was recently named the return specialist of the year for the Ontario Football Conference.
Jones amassed over 468 return yards with the Twin Cities Predators during the eight-game regular season. His breakthrough game was in Week 5 when his team was playing Windsor’s AKO Fratmen. Jones returned the ball after a missed field goal 115 yards for the score.
He started his football career as a quarterback but grew into his role as a big powerful fullback by the time he finished his fifth year in high school.
At Sir John A. Macdonald high school in Waterloo, he had some incredible experiences including an amazing turnaround which saw his team go from last place to first place.
After finishing 1-7 in his Grade 10 year, only three years later, his team went undefeated and dominated in the playoffs, not allowing a touchdown
But one game that continues to haunt him was in the CWOSSA semi-finals versus Saugeen. His Highlanders were winning by 21 points in the fourth quarter and looked posed to pull off the win.
However, his team fell apart in the last moments and they lost the game.
Jones was highly recruited out of high school, receiving offers to attend most universities in the area. Instead he opted to go out of province and landed at the University of Calgary.
During his first and only season as a Dino in 2009-2010, Jones pulled his hamstring during training camp, forcing him to miss most of the season.
During his recovery period, he had a tough time focusing on football, as his mother was very sick back in Kitchener. Jones dressed one game for Calgary but opted to return home after the season was over.
He decided to put his football career on hold and worked full time in Kitchener. He also continued to upgrade his courses. Football re-entered his life when the Canadian Junior Football League announced a new team was coming to Kitchener-Waterloo.
Jones attended the first training camp and said it was a very exciting experience. He credits his head coach at the time, Chris Triantafilou, for his as well as the team’s early success.
“Especially because of coach Triantafilou, he’s awesome and so knowledgeable. He knows the game inside and out. He’s been around the game forever and he’s not the typical coach who’s going to yell at you and get upset. He explains it to you in a way that makes sense for everyone,” Jones said.
Jones talked about his first year with the Predators.
“If we would have had a couple more weeks, I think we would have made the playoffs. Our offence was just hitting their stride and figuring out what we were good at and what we weren’t good at. And our defence throughout the whole year was awesome, “ Jones said.
Jones has looked into going back to university but understands that he is getting older and playing for the Predators was a great way for scouts to see him.
Jones looks to the future and thinks that he has the potential to play at the next level. He is seriously determined to crack a practice roster in the Canadian Football League within the next few years.
“In 10 years, I just want to be happy. I hope to be in a financial state where I can just relax and enjoy life. I want to make sure that my mother is all right and doesn’t have to work. And lastly, I just want to be a good, positive influence on my brothers and sisters,” Jones said.