By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (March 14, 2018) — An injection of regenerative cells brought Easton Jones time and health enough to play his senior season as quarterback at Stephenville High School.
And what a season it was for Jones and the Yellow Jackets, who went from four wins in 2016 to the final four in 2017, reaching the 4A Division I semifinals by capturing the Region I-4A Division I championship.
Jones played in each game, punting in the first two and returning to quarterback – as a three-year starter – in the second quarter in week three, prompting the Jackets to a rout of 5A Everman and on to an outright district championship before winning four playoff games. The Jackets lost two games leading into district but then came an eight-game win streak carrying them to the 3-4A Division I title campaign and on through the regional playoffs.
But what was feared back in June is reality in March.
Jones still must have the dreaded Tommy John surgery.
Jones will miss his senior baseball season at Stephenville and has been freed by Tyler College, from the letter of intent he signed to play football at the east Texas junior college. Instead, the damaged ulna collateral ligament treated with stem cells from his hip will go under the knife for the most famous sports surgery of all.
Troy Jones, father of Easton, says the UCL in the right elbow didn’t hold up as well as doctors and everyone concerned had hoped it would, and that the damage incurred from the original injury and throughout football season must now be repaired the traditional way.
When doctors originally suggested Tommy John surgery last June it was unlikely Jones would be back even in time for baseball season. That remains the prognosis now with Tommy John expected to keep Easton out for a year, his father said. Easton will retain two years of junior college eligibility and four years of total collegiate athletics eligibility
“At least we were able to get part of his senior year back for him,” said his dad.
The months of good health afforded were put to good use as Easton became the Stephenville career leader in pass completions and attempts at 540-917 and finished second in program history with 7,885 career pass yards. Kelan Luker of the 1998 4A Division I champion Yellow Jackets passed for 8,297 career yards from 1996-98.
The head coaches of District 3-4A Division I voted Jones the offensive MVP of the league seven months after head baseball coaches voted him District 8-4A Pitcher of the Year.
Jones last fall completed 187 of 306 pass attempts for 3,083 yards and 35 touchdowns. Last spring struck out 87 batters while turning in a 0.88 earned run average.
Jones, who is scheduled for surgery on March 26, his father said, did get to fire two final pitches earlier this week, throwing the ceremonial first pitch and a re-do before Stephenville battled Venus in both the home and district opener at James T. Young Baseball Field.