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Hartselle alum breaks through for victory

By David Elwell

For the Enquirer

One of Bob Godsey’s favorite sayings for his football teams is “Do your job!” The former Hartselle coach’s words still guide Marquez Jones today in his job in the United States Air Force.

Hartselle’s Jones did his job in 2008 when he rushed for 31 touchdowns and 1,562 yards. He was named The Daily’s Class 5A-7A Player of the Year that season when Hartselle won 12 games for the third season in school history.

“After going 4-7 the year before, we were a team on a mission,” Jones said. “We had 18 seniors in 2008, and we accomplished a lot. I feel like we changed the mindset and set a new standard for Hartselle football.”

In 2008 Hartselle won its first region championship in seven years. The Tigers also broke a 13-game losing streak to Russellville with a 24-14 win on the Golden Tigers’ home field.

Three years later, Hartselle had its first state championship season.

It’s been almost 12 years since Jones’ big season earned him Class 5A All-State first-team recognition, but his accomplishments have not been forgotten. Jones was the winner in The Daily’s online contest to name the favorite Class 5A-7A Player of the Year since 2000.

“I found a link to the story about the contest on Facebook,” Jones said. “It was special to find my name on that list of great players. It’s quite an honor to receive so many votes.”

After finishing his Hartselle career with 4,112 yards rushing and 58 touchdowns, Jones and his identical twin brother Manquez went to prep school for one year before entering the Air Force Academy. Marquez played one year of football at the Academy.

Today the twins share identical ranks as captains. Marquez is stationed in Colorado Springs at Peterson Air Force Base, and Manquez is stationed at Los Angeles Air Force Base in California.

“I am a program manager,” Marquez said. “I have 10 radar bases inside and outside the country that I work with.”

Marquez’ wife, Avalisa, is also an Air Force Academy graduate and is also a captain. They have a 4-year-old son, JaMarcus, and a 2-year-old son, Mathias.

Hartselle opened the 2008 season unranked. The Tigers didn’t crack the rankings until the fifth week at No. 3 following wins over Chelsea (29-13), J.O. Johnson (23-0), East Limestone (34-0), Russellville (24-14) and Cordova (42-27).

A big win at Athens (35-0) pushed Hartselle up to No. 2. The Tigers closed out the season with wins over Butler (41-0), Lee (41-6), Muscle Shoals (44-6) and Decatur (19-16). Marquez Jones had five touchdowns in the Muscle Shoals win.

Hartselle was ranked No. 1 going into the playoffs. The Tigers beat Scottsboro (41-7) in the first round and Boaz (14-3) in the second round. Russellville would get revenge in the third round with a 13-6 win at Hartselle, but Russellville’s season ended with a loss in the 5A state championship game to Vigor.

Joining Jones on the All-State team was linebacker Craig Orr. Linebacker David Reeves and defensive lineman Carrington Bibb were honorable mention selections.

“We had a lot of good football players on that team,” Jones said. “I was proud to play with them.”