Hayden Jones likes to compete to the point of exhaustion.
As a senior football player for Christian Brothers High School, he threw around his 6-foot-6, 240-pound body in the trenches as a blocking tight end who was nimble and skilled enough to catch the ball and run over and past defenders. . He also played defensive end – and he kicked field goals and punted.
So forgive Jones for winding up flat on his back, spent, needing a moment to collect himself.
“The motor never stops,” Jones said Monday as he let that motor idle a bit. “There’s too much fight in me, too much competitive energy in me to not go hard all the time. I’d feel tired after some plays, but you keep going.”
Jones is an overachiever for one of the region’s most storied athletic programs, a rare athlete who participates in more than one sport. Monday was a blissful day: It began with a basketball shootaround in the morningand ended with an evening football practice. That makes Jones a natural fit for the South team in Saturday’s 57th Optimist All-Star Game, a senior showcase that emphasizes versatility.
Jones also is the rare athlete who has landed a scholarship but sees no reason to stop playing other sports. He’s headed to Colorado to play football, but that pledge never dulled his desire to make drop-step baskets in the winter and fire fastballs in the spring, making him a three-sport specialist in an age of single-sport specialization.
“It’s fun,” Jones said. “I love the guys in basketball, too. It’s a great way to keep in shape, and it’s an awesome experience. I had shoulder surgery last year after football and didn’t play basketball, so I missed it a bunch. And it’s the last time I’ll be able to have a basketball (or baseball) uniform on, to play in front of peers and family and friends.
“If you focus just on one sport, you can get burned out. Different sports means using different muscle groups, and you can put all the sports experiences into one great experience.”
A helmet isn’t the only heavy thing Jones has put on his head. He’s also worn a hard hat while spending time on construction sites with his father, Tom Jones, a partner in Hilbers Inc., a commercial contractor with offices in Sacramento and Yuba City.
A generation ago, Tom Jones was a standout Davis lineman who participated in the Optimist All-Star Game before playing for Nevada. In recent years, he has provided his son a taste of the construction business.
“I want to study business at Colorado, so I can take over my dad’s business some day,” Jones said.
But Jones is in no hurry for that. There’s a football practice to get ready for, basketball games to play and a baseball season to look forward to.
More South multi-taskers – The South roster also includes Franklin linebacker Joey Banks, who wrestles and will play baseball in the spring. Said Banks: “Have to. It’s my last year.”• Justin Priest, who led Oak Ridge in receiving (1,073 yards, 15 touchdowns), also plays for the basketball team.
• Austin Gates (304 receiving yards, 100 tackles), a linebacker/tight end for Jesuit, also makes stops as a key player for the Marauders’ rugby team.
• Tight end Tyler Kaim (949 receiving yards, 10 touchdowns) of Vista del Lago also pitches in the spring.
• Taron Johnson set Sheldon receiving marks (1,148 yards, 12 touchdowns) and sprints for the track team.