Virginia AAA Liberty

South Lakes's Ja'Juan Jones Rushes for 244 Yards in a 28-21 Win Over McLean

By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, October 3, 2009

South Lakes junior running back Ja'Juan Jones is going to run track this year for the first time in his life.

"He just doesn't know it yet," said John Ellenberger, the school's football coach.

Jones, a 5-foot-10, 170-pounder, is going to be pushed by the Seahawks' coaching staff to build upon his impressive arsenal of skills, including his strength, durability, vision and elusiveness -- skills he used Friday night to amass 244 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries as he set the pace in the Seahawks' 28-21 victory over McLean in a vital Virginia AAA Liberty District showdown in Reston.

Jones, who entered Friday night's game as the Virginia AAA Northern Region's third-leading rusher behind Lee's Idreis Augustus and McLean's Riley Beiro, is just one of several marquee players who have sparked a resurgence in Reston.

Friday night's victory established South Lakes (4-1, 3-0) as a threat, something that hasn't happened since the Seahawks won the Division 5 region title in 2002.

Since then, the team has suffered through a six-year stretch in which it went 17-44 and managed just 12 wins in its district.

"We want to get back to states just like those old teams did," said Jones, who hurdled a diving McLean linebacker and then broke a 67-yard touchdown run to put South Lakes up 14-0 at the start of the second quarter.

Jones also carried seven times for 74 yards in the fourth quarter to help fend off the feisty Highlanders.

"We're showing that we're a threat," said South Lakes senior quarterback Shawn Ranna, who delivered a 79-yard bomb and a two-yard fade pass, offerings that 6-3 junior wide receiver Sean Price turned into touchdowns as South Lakes took a 21-7 lead into halftime.

McLean (3-2, 1-1), which went 0-10 last year, showed off a Beiro-centric offense Friday night. The crafty senior returned punts and kickoffs, split out at wide receiver, played the slot, ran left, right, middle, took direct snaps and played on special teams as he compiled 153 hard-earned yards on 33 carries at his natural position of running back.

Beiro, who leads the Virginia AAA Northern Region in carries per game (32.5), also reeled in a 23-yard touchdown with 17 seconds left in the first half.

South Lakes 28, McLean 21 Biggest Turnaround: If McLean can manage its way through a three-week stretch against Jefferson and Marshall -- teams that entered Friday night's games with a combined 0-8 record -- and then fend off Fairfax (2-2), it will face No. 11 Stone Bridge (4-0) at home on Oct. 30. McLean's final game of the season is against winless Langley (0-4), meaning the Highlanders could conceivably finish the season at 7-3. That would be a Virginia High School League record for single-season turnaround, a record held currently by Lake Braddock, which won six games in 2005 after going 0-10 in 2004. Price Is Right: Sean Price is Penn State wide receiver A.J. Price's little brother.

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