Jahari Hill was going through pregame warmups against Lewisville Hebron when the Hurst L.D. Bell wide receiver got some instant additional inspiration.
He saw his stepdad looking on.
“I didn’t know he was going to be there, then I saw him on the sidelines,” Jahari said. “He’s been in my life a very long time. We have been through thick and thin together.”
Michael Jones has been his stepfather since Hill was age 6. However, four years ago Jones joined the Army, and since then the two have had limited time together.
“The last time I saw him was the beginning of the summer,” Hill said. “He’s stationed in Fort Detrick in Maryland. Before that, it was two years since I’d seen him.”
It was the first time Michael saw his stepson play a varsity football game. Hill, a senior, celebrated by catching the first pass of the game against Hebron.
“I tried to look for him when I caught it, but if I’d looked too hard I wouldn’t have made the catch,” Hill said with a chuckle. “It really meant a lot him being there and for me to get that first catch. I had a couple of tears.”
Blue Raiders head coach Mike Glaze said Michael actually tried to hide from Hill until after the game so as to not be a distraction. Turns out, he was just the opposite.
“He didn’t want him to feel any pressure with him being there,” Glaze said. “But Hill played great and had a good game for him. It was a selfless action on his stepdad’s part. Hill is the same way, very humble.”
Before Michael’s departure, he and Hill were together every day. In fact, it was he who helped get Hill into football at the peewee level.
“He was my first football coach. When he went away it was hard,” Hill said. “We stay in touch on a daily basis. We pretty much text, email or call each other every day.”
The two did not get to spend the weekend together, but they did make it a long night, Hill said. Michael flew in especially to see his stepson play.
“He flew in just for the game, then flew out Saturday, but we stayed up late catching up,” Hill said. “We even looked at film from the game.
“He’s coming back for senior night” Oct. 28 against Southlake Carroll.
Michael was an athlete himself when attending school. Hill said he was an accomplished wrestler and football player.
“I don’t think I’m the wrestling type,” Hill said, laughing. “Those little onesies, can’t do it.”
Hill is, however, thinking of following Michael into the military. He would like to play football in college, but more important, he wants to study pre-med and perhaps become an orthopedic surgeon. So while his dream has been to play for Texas Tech, he is considering the Air Force Academy.
“He hasn’t forced anything with the military on me, but I have seen the structure they have and I like it,” Hill said.