Vance Jones, who also coached at Buena Vista and Aspermont, led Sanderson to the state finals in 2002, and won back-to-back titles with Garden City in 2009 and 2010. The coach wasn’t done there however, after the 2011 season in GC, Jones took on the task of rebuilding a Balmorhea team which went 5-6 in `11, and made the Bears a playoff team, a third round playoff team to be specific, with a 10-3 record in 2012. Another milestone was achieved last season, as Balmorhea reached the state championship game for the first time in school history.
TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: You have many years of coaching experience, with some great moments mixed in as well. After winning back-to-back titles at Garden City, you decided to continue coaching and take the reins at Balmorhea. Why is that?
VANCE JONES: Well I love the game. I enjoyed my time at Garden City, there were great people and great kids there, I figured after winning state there I’d finally retire. Well about three months into my retirement my wife and daughter said “we know you’re not ready to retire.” After thinking about it I figured “well if someone was to offer me a job I guess I’d take it.” Balmorhea offered, and I figured I’d just be there for two or three years, and I’m entering my sixth year here now. I plan on staying a while, for as long as Balmorhea doesn’t mind me here, as long as I stay healthy and still love coaching football, I’ll stay for as long as I can.
TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: Let’s go over last season now. Balmorhea performed well in both non-district and district play, accomplishing an undefeated regular season. How do you feel the 2016 campaign went?
JONES: Well I thought non-district went well. We got better as the weeks went by. District went about as we thought it would. We knew Grandfalls would be the biggest challenge going in; I thought we’d see them again in the playoffs, and sure enough we did.
TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: You did indeed have that rematch with Grandfalls-Royalty, in the third round; but there were other wins against quality teams in the postseason, including the win over Turkey Valley in the semifinals. Unfortunately a tough Richland Springs team was waiting for you in the state championship. How do you feel the postseason went?
JONES: Our run to the postseason was an outstanding job. We played it close with Richland Springs in the first half, down by 10. But we didn’t have a good third quarter, and you can’t do that against a good team like that. Of course you don’t want to end the season with a loss, but overall I think our season was great.
TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: Balmorhea is in an unusual but positive place. I looked at the roster from last season and noticed there were no seniors on last season’s team. How positive is this from your perspective?
JONES: Yeah it’s definitely a positive place to be in, but we still have work to do. We gotta take them one day at a time, we gotta work on being focused.
TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: Three players in particular from this roster are returning: Kyle Garcia, Marcos Mendoza and Marco Martinez were fantastic last season, and received tons of accolades, all-district, all-state, what have you. What are your thoughts on these three in specific?
JONES: We had a lot of good players last season, a lot of all-district and all-state players. I can’t say enough about all three of them. Kyle Garcia’s started since he was a freshman, he’s an outstanding running back and I’m excited about his chances for another stellar, stellar season. Mendoza is an outstanding fullback, and Marco Martinez played lights out at quarterback.
TEXASHSFOOTBALL.COM: Looking at the 2017 schedule, it’s actually a nearly identical one; same teams but different venues. What are your thoughts on this upcoming season? Are there any games in particular to look out for?
JONES: I think Rankin will be a little better, they’re returning some good kids. Of course there’s the game against Garden City, they’re always a good team.