When Eddie Gallegos took the reins at Jonesboro in 2009, the Eagles were six years removed from their last 10+ win season, and was coming off a rough 2-8 season in 2008. After enduring another, Gallegos’ revitalization of the Eagles began, as Jonesboro surpassed the 10 win threshold in all seasons but one, and has qualified for the playoffs in every season. In 2016 the Eagles reached an important milestone, reaching the 1A DI championship game, unfortunately Borden County was too much, and the Eagles ended their undefeated run with a 60-12 loss.
The highlight of Jonesboro’s non-district portion came in week two, with the Eagles downing a strong Milford team 34-16. The Eagles breezed through the rest of this portion, scoring an average of 42.4 points per game. The 10-1A DI title was also claimed last season, seemingly with ease. Jonesboro took to the road for two of their three district games, topping Blanket and Evant, with a home win against Zephyr in between. Though the Eagles did not record a single shutout in 2016, the defense played well regardless, with an average scoring margin of 43.2 points per game.
“We played really well in all three phases,” said head coach Eddie Gallegos. “It went real well.”
Jonesboro’s postseason featured a few shootout games, including a 40-32 win over Lometa in bi-district, a 50-46 victory over Gilmer Union Hill in the state semifinal, and a close 46-44 takedown of district foe Zephyr the prior round, much closer than the 80-46 drubbing in the regular season.
“We had to make some adjustments in the postseason,” said Gallegos; “but we did a great job of staying alive each week.”
RB/S Robert Robuck, RB/DB Josh Barnes, C/DB Danny Lopez
“We had a lot of experience and good football players who moved on,” said Gallegos of last season’s crop; these are perhaps the cream of that crop to graduate:
Robuck is a big loss for the Eagles. The first team all-district utility back and first team all-state safety accounted for 922 yards rushing with 22 touchdowns, and was also one of Jonesboro’s top defensive threats.
Barnes, the district defensive MVP and first team all state cornerback, tallied 109 tackles in 2016; he also rushed for 1,256 yards and 24 touchdowns for the Eagles potent run game. Lopez was named first team all-district and all-state at the tight center position, and tabbed three interceptions on defense last season.
TE/DL Alex Sarmiento, RB/DE Andy Sarmiento, QB/DB Wyatt Young
The Sarmiento brothers received a handful of accolades last season; Alex was named the district Newcomer of the Year, and first team all-district at the tight end and defensive line positions, while also earning first team all-state honors at tight end. Andy was first team all-district for the running back, special teams and defensive end positions, as well as first team all-state at defensive end.
Young completed 26 passes for 476 yards and nine touchdowns in 2016, while also contributing 138 tackles and six interceptions on defense.
Jonesboro may have some growing pains, but Gallegos and the Eagles have been in this position before. Based on how this team has played during his tenure, it would be unwise to count them out. The coach noted key tests early against Iredell and Milford, as both teams return a good amount of experience from last season. They also have Dallas Lutheran on the non-district schedule, who finished last season as regional semifinalists and return four offensive and defensive starters.
10-1A DI will be an additional challenge this season, as Blanket, Evant and Zephyr all return four offensive and defensive starters, making Jonesboro the disadvantaged team in this regard. However a good non-district showing should prepare the Eagles for district, and this team has the pedigree of playoff success under Gallegos.
“It’s a tough schedule,” said the coach. “Every week is big for us.”
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