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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Jones Catching On With Friends' Help

Chaminade junior emerges as leading receiver after being coaxed to come out for football by his buddies.

November 16, 2000|ERIC SONDHEIMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WEST HILLS — If Josh Jones of Chaminade High makes it as a college wide receiver, he can thank a few friends for convincing him to play football.

He still remembers Hell Week from his freshman year, when he showed up at Chaminade to pick up books for the school year and see his friends sweating on the field. They'd wave and plead with him to come out.

"They kept calling me, 'Come on, it's so fun,' " Jones recalled.

Jones finally relented a week into fall practice. He has owed his friends a debt of gratitude ever since.

"That's why they're my friends--they're good guys," he said.

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound junior has 14 touchdown catches this season and has established himself among the most productive receivers in the region.

He ranks third among Southern Section players in the region with 57 receptions for 714 yards entering a Southern Section Division III playoff opener Friday night against Hart at College of the Canyons.

Jones has been a three-sport athlete at Chaminade, but he's unsure which sport he likes best.

"I used to be a baseball player," he said. "Then I thought I was a basketball player, and now I think I'm a football player."

Jones and sophomore quarterback Erik Vose have been the most important players in helping first-year Coach Bill Culpepper produce a wide-open passing attack.

"He's a physical receiver," Vose said of Jones. "He comes up with the greatest catches."

Many of Jones' touchdowns have come on catches inside the 10-yard line after Vose lofted the ball and hoped Jones would grab it like he does a rebound in basketball.

He's tough and resilient. When Notre Dame defensive backs Jim Sharp and Michael Luderer were hitting him repeatedly in a Mission League game, he didn't back down.

"Sharp and Luderer got some good hits on me, but I love it," he said.

Picking Jones out of a crowd is easy. He's the one with the big smile. Hardly anyone can remember a time when he lost his temper.

"I don't get mad," he said. "I'm just the type who sits back and laughs."

He came close to getting mad the other day, when a teammate cut in front of him in the lunch line. How did Jones react?

Not with a shove or threat.

"I asked, 'What are you doing?' and gave him my money [to buy pizza]," he said.

Jones has reached a comfort zone with football. He'll still play basketball this season and maybe baseball, but catching footballs has become his passion.

"I think it's where I belong," he said.

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