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W&L’s new football coach is Northern Neck legend

Hopes for the 2014-2015 edition of the Washington & Lee Eagles varsity football team just got a lot brighter with the announcement this week that the school has hired legendary Northern Neck District Coach Todd Jones to head its football program.

Jones built the Essex Trojans into a powerhouse during his 14 years of coaching there. Jones has a record of 70 wins and 17 losses at the Tappahannock school, including a 2009 state championship and multiple district and regional championships.

Jones’ state championship team went 14 and 0 and pounded always-tough Radford 30 to 0 to win the state title. He was voted Virginia High School Coach of the Year in 2009, and he has coached in the state East-West all-star game twice.

Jones will succeed Antron Yates at W&L. Yates coached the Eagles to a successful 7-5 season last year, but was unable to be available to Washington & Lee’s student athletes as often as the school desired because he had a full-time job at Freedom High School in Woodbridge, two hours away.

“We just needed a coach who would be around here,” said W&L Athletic Director Malcolm Lewis. “We’ve been talking to Coach Jones for sometime. To be able to fill our vacancy with a coach with his track record was a no-brainer,” said Lewis.

Jones will inherit a football team with solid prospects. Almost two dozen lettermen return from a team that went two rounds into the state playoffs last year, and the W&L junior varsity team was 8-1-1 last season. “We’ve got a lot of good kids here,” said Jones. “It’s just a matter of how hard they want to work.”

After his father died, Jones left Essex High in 2010 to return to Pulaski, his hometown, to coach and be near his family. He took over a Pulaski County High School Cougars team that was facing a number of challenges, including VHSL probation, but still managed to get them to the playoffs three of his four years.
“We’re glad to get back to the Northern Neck,” Jones said. Jones arrived last week and already has been working with W&L athletes in the weight room. “We’re a little behind,” he said. “But the kids, and all the people here, have just been fantastic.”

Jones will be a physical education teacher at Montross Middle School when he isn’t coaching at W&L. His wife, Meredith, will teach math at Washington & Lee. The couple has two elementary school daughters, Payton, 9, and Kylie, 8.  

Jones, 41, is a former Emory and Henry linebacker, but his teams are known for their quick strike spread offenses, something he said he hopes to implement at W&L. His effort will be aided by returning star quarterback Treshaun Brown, running back DJ Weldon and wide receiver Marcus Byrd.

Northern Neck District foes should also be concerned about Jones’ new working relationship with Lewis, a coaching legend in his own right. As W&L’s football coach for more than 10 years, Lewis had 123 wins and won a state championship. He has been W&L’s athletic director for nine years.

The two coaches faced each other often when Lewis was leading W&L and Jones was leading Essex. “I have a tremendous respect for him,” Jones said. “We had some great battles over the years.”

“We were lucky to get Coach Jones here,” said Lewis. “He understands the Northern Neck mentality, and he understands the Northern Neck student athlete. We have some tough kids here, and they are going to have a good team. Whether they can contend for a state championship is the question.”


—Richard Leggitt

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