Bishop O’Dowd run­ning back hum­ble de­spite bril­liant ca­reer

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - FOOTBALL - By Mitch Stephens MaxPreps se­nior writer Mitch Stephens cov­ers high school sports for The San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle.

There’s the break­away speed, the elu­sive moves, the pow­er­ful runs and con­stant mo­tor.

There’s the dura­bil­ity, with 53 ca­reer starts and 918 ca­reer car­ries lead­ing to 6,745 rush­ing yards and 85 touch­downs.

There’s the 75 ca­reer catches, the 7,774 to­tal yards from scrim­mage and 92 touch­downs.

There’s the 42 wins, the 2016 state cham­pi­onship, the No. 6 na­tional run­ning back re­cruit­ing rank­ing and the schol­ar­ship to Stan­ford.

Out of all the me­mories and ac­com­plish­ments Bishop O’Dowd-Oak­land coach Napoleon Kauf­man will re­mem­ber most about run­ning back Austin Jones, it is this:

“It’s go­ing to sound strange, but it’s hu­mil­ity,” Kauf­man said. “He treats ev­ery­one the same, he’s a nor­mal, hard­work­ing kid who ex­pects no spe­cial treat­ment.”

Clearly, the 5-foot-11, 205pound se­nior — who will lead Bishop O’Dowd against Marin Catholic-Kent­field in the North Coast Sec­tion Di­vi­sion 2 cham­pi­onship game Satur­day — was a spe­cial tal­ent com­ing into the pro­gram as a fresh­man.

Kauf­man, a run­ning back for the Oak­land Raiders from 1995-2000, rec­og­nized Jones’ tal­ent and made him the Dragons’ work­horse as a fresh­man with 254 car­ries for 1,370 yards and 12 touch­downs.

Over the next two sea­sons, Jones rushed for more than 3,500 yards and 50 touch­downs, be­fore Kauf­man ful­filled Jones’ ul­ti­mate wish: to also play de­fense.

Jones has started ev­ery game at cor­ner­back this sea­son and, ac­cord­ing to Kauf­man, hasn’t al­lowed a touch­down. Jones has 29 tack­les, a forced fum­ble and a fum­ble re­cov­ery.

“He’s done an ex­cel­lent job on de­fense,” Kauf­man said. “What­ever he needs to do on the foot­ball field, he gets it done.”

On of­fense, Jones rushed 197 times for 1,848 yards and 23 touch­downs, which makes him the No. 2 ca­reer rusher in Bay Area his­tory be­hind An­ti­och alum Na­jee Har­ris (7,813 yards), who now plays for Alabama.

Jones re­cently passed the re­gion’s No. 2 ca­reer rusher, Sale­sian-Rich­mond’s Jahvid Best (6,428).

Kauf­man was re­cently rated the na­tion’s 29th great­est high school run­ning back of all-time by MaxPreps — only three Cal­i­for­ni­ans ranked higher, in­clud­ing Vallejo’s Dick Bass at No. 11 — and Kauf­man was se­lected the 1990 State Player of the Year by Cal-Hi Sports. He won two state track and field sprint cham­pi­onships for Lom­poc and had a best time in the 100 me­ters at 10.39 sec­onds.

Jones isn’t quite as fast as Kauf­man, but the coach said he and his prized pupil share a com­mon trait.

“Tough­ness,” Kauf­man said. “He def­i­nitely re­minds me of me in that area. He runs tough and nasty.”

None of it shows, off the field, says his coach.

“You show up to a work­out or a prac­tice and you didn’t know who he is, you’d prob­a­bly never guess he was Austin Jones,” Kauf­man said. “He’s just a quiet, coach­able, good kid. He was def­i­nitely raised right.”

In his last game, Jones fig­ures to run with plenty of aban­don Satur­day. Be­yond that, Marin Catholic ended Bishop O’Dowd’s sea­son last sea­son in the NCS semi­fi­nals. The year be­fore, O’Dowd ended Marin Catholic’s sea­son en route to a state 5-AA cham­pi­onship.

“(Marin Catholic) is well coached, tough and will be a huge chal­lenge,” Kauf­man said. “This is the rub­ber match. We’ll be ready.” Change of venue: Satur­day’s Di­vi­sion 6-A state cham­pi­onship game be­tween Lin­col­nSan Fran­cisco and Or­ange Glen-Es­con­dido (San Diego County) has been moved to City Col­lege of San Fran­cisco. The noon start will re­main the same. The game orig­i­nally was sched­uled for Wash­ing­ton High.

Dar­ren Ya­mashita / MaxPreps

Run­ning back Austin Jones plays his fi­nal game for Bishop O’Dowd-Oak­land on Satur­day.

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