Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 | 1:51 a.m.
Call off the search for Arbor View’s next great running back.
The Aggies appear to have found him in senior Curtis Jones. For the second straight game, Jones stuffed the box score with more than 175 rushing yards.
But Jones’ workload more than doubled Friday night with 26 carries for 209 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-20 victory over host Green Valley.
“Usually we’re pretty balanced,” Jones said, “but coach saw something in me to take charge of the team.”
Jones’ repeated long runs against the Gators brought flashbacks to Herman Gray, who was the city’s leading rusher and Northwest Division MVP for Arbor View last year. The Aggies expected to replace Gray with a committee out of their traditional double-wing attack.
Jones has forced the coaching staff to reconsider by averaging nearly 10 yards per carry so far this season.
“Curtis is pretty good,” Arbor View coach Dan Barnson said. “We knew it last year but we had Herman last year. We knew what we had with Curtis, and saw him when he was younger coming up through our system.”
Jones picked up 30 yards on his first carry Friday, delivering Arbor View into Green Valley territory almost immediately. The Aggies then showed they might have unearthed a quarterback, too.
Junior Hayden Bollinger connected with senior tight end Bishop Jones on a 14-yard touchdown pass to cap a nine-play scoring drive. Bollinger stayed consistent through the night, never allowing Arbor View to trail.
He threw abnormally often for an Arbor View quarterback, completing six of 10 attempts for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
“Hayden is a pretty good quarterback and we threw the ball some more tonight,” Barnson said. “So maybe some teams will look at us differently. It makes teams work some other stuff against us, which I think will help us in the future.”
Taking care of the ball would also help Arbor View going forward. Turnovers were nearly the Aggies’ undoing against the Gators, as they lost three fumbles without recording any of their own takeaways.
Pressure from senior defensive lineman Harold Bell, a constant all night, was the only thing that prevented Green Valley from getting points off Arbor View’s first giveaway. But then Curtis Jones muffed the ensuing punt to set up the Gators’ lone points of the first half when Spencer Cofer rocketed through a 26-yard field goal.
“I guarantee you Monday we will be working on ball handling,” Barnson said.
Green Valley didn’t need assistance to get on the board at the start of the second half. Austin Warhop got behind the secondary and took a pass from A.J. Amelburu 69 yards for a touchdown on the third play out of halftime to make the score 14-10.
Next to Curtis Jones, Warhop was the game’s most productive player with 186 total yards. Amelburu completed 22 of 46 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns.
“They’re good at what they do,” Barnson said of Green Valley’s passing attack. “And we’re pretty good at what we do.”
Curtis Jones plunged in a one-yard touchdown enabled by a fourth-down conversion on another pass from Bollinger to Bishop Jones to restore Arbor View’s two-score lead in the third quarter. But then the Aggies fumbled to again put the Gators in prime position to score, which Amelburu capitalized on with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Brayon Williams.
The 21-17 score enlivened the home crowd for all of about a minute before Curtis Jones came off the edge for a 46-yard touchdown on the next offensive play.
“We just needed to grab the momentum back,” Jones said. “All I remember is special teams getting a big one, setting it up and I finished the job.”
Curtis Jones spearheaded one final scoring drive in the fourth quarter where Bollinger powered into the end zone on a quarterback sneak. He also contributed to a defense that held Green Valley out of the end zone in the final minutes despite the Gators getting inside the 10-yard line.
Curtis Jones considers Gray one of his best friends, and for the first time on Friday night, he felt like he was emulating him.
“If I continue to get the carries I got tonight,” Curtis Jones said. “I’ll show I can be the next Herman.”