As might be expected, more than a few dozen of patrician Highland Park elected the comfort and pleasure of an AT&T Stadium suite to take in the Scots’ Class 5A Division I state semifinal against Denton Ryan on Saturday.
Among their number was the grandfather of Highland Park’s junior quarterback, John Stephen Jones, who no doubt felt the love and pride of family while leading his team to a 31-24 victory and a berth in next week’s state-championship game.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and his wife, Gene, watched the game from the 50-yard line. John Stephen’s dad, Stephen Jones, sat in stadium seating, waiting for kickoff like an expecting father, without the cigar, of course, in the no-smoking facility. Stephen’s brother, Jerry Jr., and his sister, Charlotte, sat with their parents.
Afterward, Stephen, a standout varsity high school quarterback in his day, wore the look of the effects of anxiety that only a parent could know. Stephen’s wife, Karen, was outfitted in her best Highland Park jersey with John Stephen’s No. 9 and “Jones” adorning the back.
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Being no ordinary football-playing Jones would be enough to overwhelm a 5-foot-10, 169-pound 17-year-old, one thinks.
My dad gives me advice every game. I talked to my grandfather. They’re just like any other father or grandfather. They talk to their kids. They give great advice and I love them.
Highland Park quarterback John Stephen Jones, on his father and grandfather
“Not at all,” John Stephen said. “My dad gives me advice every game. I talked to my grandfather. They’re just like any other father or grandfather. They talk to their kids. They give great advice and I love them.”
These Scots, descendants of deep lines of football aristocrats, such as Doak Walker and Bobby Layne, and the Jones family will be back at AT&T Stadium next week, the building John Stephen will likely inherit one day.
John Stephen and Paxton Alexander teamed up just the way Walker and Layne once did in high school.
John Stephen threw for 184 yards and two touchdowns on 15-of-25 passing for the Scots, who racked up 378 yards of total offense. Twice he hit Alexander for touchdowns, including one in the flat late in the first half. It was a play that Stephen could be heard at halftime saying he suggested to his son would be open.
Alexander also had two TDs rushing as part of a 31-carry, 137-yard day.
The thing about John Stephen is he’s humble, and when he’s not thinking football he’s out hunting. You can’t get in much trouble doing those two things.
Highland Park coach Randy Allen, on how his quarterback handles the hype and expectations
“I think he’s handled it great,” said Randy Allen, Highland Park’s coach on John Stephen dealing with the publicity and expectations associated with his last name. “The thing about John Stephen is he’s humble, and when he’s not thinking football he’s out hunting. You can’t get in much trouble doing those two things.”
As for Stephen, Allen said, he’s been a “great parent.”
“I’ve had one meeting with him,” Allen said. “I told him how it was going to be and he understood. He trusted my integrity. He’s been very good as a parent.”
As for Jerry Jones, he might well have been able to pass, albeit reluctantly, on Johnny Manziel a few years back, but if given a choice of his grandson, blood might have been thicker than even double-wide Zack Martin.
It’s unlikely of course that Jerry and Stephen Jones will ever face such a choice, but on Saturday there’s no question who their top pick was.