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Jones is 'a phenomenal young man'
Jones is all about the team
Senior plays big on the football field
By Sean Sweeney, FHS Class of 1996
ITCHBURG — Like many football players of yesteryear, Lessie “Dee” Jones IV prefers to do his talking on the gridiron instead of away from it.
Jones, a senior, is a soft-spoken young man on the Fitchburg High football team and is primarily a defender who brings the hard hat and lunch pail to work every day in practice and every game. He is also involved on special teams, churning his legs to get the Red and Gray into good field position to start their drives offensively.
His work ethic, humble nature, and his skill set have all impressed the Red Raider coaching staff — as well as the teaching faculty — over the last three seasons.
“A phenomenal young man,” said Fitchburg assistant coach James McCall, who is Jones’ positional coach with the Red Raider defensive backs. “He’s a kid that comes to practice every day, kid that works hard. He leads by example. He's a team player, it's a we before me with him. And just a great kid. And just like I said he's just a phenomenal, phenomenal human being.”
Jones has been playing football since a young age and has developed an incredible knowledge of the game, according to McCall — yet that doesn’t stop him from asking questions.
“Some kids will do things on their own. They'll make up things,” McCall said last Thursday evening. “If he's not sure about it, he'll come and he'll ask a coach. So he wants to know more, he wants to be better at his craft.”
McCall and head coach Tom DiGeronimo have tasked Jones, who’ll be expected to match up with Leominster’s tall wide receiver Arlee Gillot when the Raiders and Devils square off against each other in the 138th meeting at Historic Crocker Field this Thursday morning, as the captain of the secondary.
“He communicates with the other members of the secondary about what they need to do,” McCall said, “because he knows what every position needs to do: his position, that corner, to the safety to the other safety into the other corner.”
That comes down to not only film study — when he spoke about that topic, he said that he watches hours of film — but the way he approaches the sport.
“I always came to any practice, any lift, any situation, and I took as like a game,” Jones said Thursday evening. “And I kept the same mentality of just keep going and going and working out, just to make the best for myself and the people around me. The people around me keep me going.
“I go back and look at last year's film to see what we can improve on to this year. And I just look at teams we played and look at different schemes we can do to help each other win, and help each other like get better will we do.”
While soft-spoken, Jones is an absolute beast for the Raiders when that game mode is switched on.
“He wants to get in the receivers face but he also knows when he shouldn't. Most kids nowadays, they want to do that they see in the NFL and what they see in the college game where it's all man-to-man,” McCall said. “He knows when to be in your face and be aggressive, and sometimes you don't have to. You don't need to do that.
“I'm more impressed about his knowledge of that. And the fact that he will come down and he will lay the hat on somebody in a heartbeat.”
Jones also has a little thing called speed on his side; he utilized that in the game against Westboro back in Week 8. The Red Raiders were behind at the half, and he returned the opening kick of the second half 90 yards to the house to start what was an epic comeback.
“Getting lined up, I looked at all the people in the field and I said, 'Whoever they kick it to, we'll bring it to the house, right up the middle,’” Jones recalled. “And then, when the ball came to me it was bouncing and picking it up. I saw an opening through the whole middle and my instinct was to just trust it and take it. Like I said everyone else go straight to the middle and taken through the middle. I just seen one dude be and when I beat him either just use my speed and get it outside.”
Not only that, Jones is a terrific student. His math teacher, Jennifer Slade, reports Jones — who has applied to a number of schools, including Westfield State University, WPI, Framingham State University, and the University of New Haven — works diligently in the classroom, recording A’s and B’s during his junior year.
“Lessie is always polite,” Slade said. “He’s always respectful, rarely absent. He takes his studies seriously, and always asks questions when he needs to. His good grades were the result of hard work and perseverance.”
Jones is certainly looking forward to finishing his interscholastic career at the corner of Circle and Broad on a high — and especially with the group of teammates he considers a brotherhood.
“I have a lot of memories about a lot of them,” Jones said. “I would rather like keep going with them, and finish this last game with them. I wouldn't want to trade it with anyone else.”