A.J. Giardina Looking Back: Turn back the clock to 1979 the Year of the Running Back

A.J. Giardina Looking Back: 1979 the Year of the Running Back in the high school ranks

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The first high school football game I covered was in September of 1979.  Biloxi played a home game with Meridian.  Indians running back Fred Thompson was a big back with great speed as shown here in ripping off a long touchdown run.  The Wildcats beat the Indians that night 14-7.

George Wonsley of Moss Point was a big bruising running back.  He would sign a football scholarship with Mississippi State. Following a solid college career Wonsley was selected in the fourth round in the1984 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts, the 103rd overall player selected.

I couldn't find video of Pass Christian running back Gene Lang.  He had size, quickness and signed a scholarship with LSU and later played in the NFL with the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons and won a super bowl with Denver.

The most exciting running back I covered in my 39 years on the coast played for Harrison Central High School in 1979.  His name... Kent Jones.
He had amazing moves, speed to explode to the outside, and quickness to side step would be tacklers.

Jones said, "Basically it was all off athletic instincts.  There were no set rules, you get the ball, you look for an opening and you try to score.  It was always about trying to score and that's all I did."

Jones and his Harrison Central teammates would win 9 games that year and played in the Shrimp Bowl.  So what was the motivating factor that pushed Jones to excel on the football turf?

"Probably the fear of failure, "said Jones.  "I don't think any great athlete, a great person wants to fail and you always have that drive to be successful."

Jones, who is now a Harrison County Supervisor, says he along with George Wonsley and Gene Lang all took an official recruiting visit to Mississippi State.  Jones signed with Mississippi Valley State and later transferred to Southern Miss.  He says football helped mold him as a person.

Jones said, "There's no substitute for good hard work and discipline and team work and understanding others and depending on others and all that is what team sports does and the same in life."

On Tuesday I'll take a Look Back to one of the all-time great coaches.

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