New player mak­ing splash for Fayet­teville

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL -

FAYET­TEVILLE — A firstyear player is tak­ing pres­sure off first-year start­ing quar­ter­back Dar­ius Bow­ers.

Bow­ers, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound ju­nior, is ex­cited about the emer­gence of se­nior re­ceiver Jon Con­ley, who hasn’t played foot­ball since he was a fresh­man at Ra­may Ju­nior High.

“Jon Con­ley is go­ing to be a great as­set for us,” Bow­ers said. “He’s fast and ag­ile, and I don’t think one per­son can tackle him. Jon al­ways shows flashes of what he can do, whether it’s a lit­tle screen pass, or a fade route, we al­ways want to get him the ball be­cause he can do some­thing with it.

“He can be a dif­fer­ence-maker for us. He’s a weapon.”

Con­ley (6-1, 170) comes from a fam­ily steeped with ath­letic abil­ity. His father, Mike Con­ley Sr., is a former world cham­pion in the triple jump. His brother, Mike Con­ley Jr., stars for the Mem­phis Griz­zlies and is one of the high­est paid play­ers in the NBA. His sis­ter, Sid­ney Con­ley, is an Al­lAmer­i­can sprinter at Kansas.

Still, Jon Con­ley has had to over­come a learn­ing curve in his re­turn to the grid­iron and cred­ited first-year Bull­dogs coach Billy Daw­son and his staff with eas­ing him into the of­fense.

“The coaches have done a good job of help­ing me,” Con­ley said, “They’re re­ally putting ev­ery­thing in front of me to where it’s sim­ple for me to where I know my job on a par­tic­u­lar play, so it’s been good.”

Con­ley said he needed the time off “to get my body right” af­ter a cou­ple of in­juries. Now, he said the big­gest chal­lenge is get­ting into “foot­ball shape and be­ing able to take hits, run and catch in pads and that kind of thing.”

Daw­son said he’s hope­ful Con­ley can con­trib­ute in a ma­jor way to an of­fense that re­turns four starters off last sea­son’s state cham­pi­onship team.

“Jon has been out a few years, so he’s just learn­ing the game,” Daw­son said. “We hope he can give us a ver­ti­cal threat on the edge and he’s pretty phys­i­cal, too. I’ve en­joyed watch­ing him progress through the spring and now to where we are.”

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK

Fayet­teville quar­ter­back Dar­ius Bow­ers (right) par­tic­i­pates in drills Wed­nes­day dur­ing prac­tice at Har­mon Sta­dium in Fayet­teville.

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