Midway through his eighth season at Tivy, Antler head coach David Jones doesn’t worry about his won-loss record. Like most coaches, his thoughts are on the next game to be played, not the ones that have already come and gone.
But Jones’ modesty belies a fierce will to win, and the fact is that with the Antlers’ next victory, he’ll etch his name into the school record books as the second winningest coach in Tivy history.
Tivy’s Sept. 27 blowout victory over San Antonio Kennedy marked Jones’ 65th career win at the Antlers’ helm, tying him with Donnie Laurence, who compiled a 65-42 record while coaching the Antlers from 1987-96.
The only coach with more wins than both men is Mark Smith, another Tivy Hall-of-Fame inductee who finished with a 93-34 mark with the Antlers between 2002-2011.
Jones began his tenure in Kerrville following Smith’s exit in 2012 and has enjoyed a 38-year long career “doing what I love” – though he readily admits following Smith was a bit daunting because of the latter’s tremendous success. Smith reached a pair of Class 4A state semifinal berths during his run at Tivy.
“It was not an easy transition for the kids or for myself,” Jones said. “They had Mark, who had been unbelievably successful, and we did things a little bit differently than him. I will never forget Parks McNeil and how he accepted what I was wanting (to do), and he sort of held everyone together and we had a very good year.”
The Antlers battled eventual state champion Cedar Park in the second round of Class 4A Division II playoffs in Jones’ inaugural season. McNeil passed for 364 yards and three touchdowns, but was injured during the game and Tivy lost 36-22.
“I still believe that if Parks doesn’t get hurt, we win the whole thing in our first year,” Jones said.
Since arriving, Jones has led the Antlers to the playoffs consistently over the years and has seen some exciting games.
“I’ve been to a lot of schools where they say their ‘fight never dies’,” so when I got here and heard TFND (Tivy Fight Never Dies) I just thought it was another motto, but that’s not true of Kerrville,” Jones said. “These kids play their tails off and they never give up. TFND is not just a saying to them, it’s who they are … year after year. I’ve truly been blessed to coach these kids.”
Jones attended high school in Ardmore, Okla. and led his team to the state championships in 1975 as a quarterback.
“We got beat 23-17,” Jones said. “I remember it like it happened yesterday. We had six turnovers. I threw three interceptions and my tailback fumbled three times. We got beat by six points, so we were the much better team.”
Jones said his high school football coach, Bobby Thompson, helped him immensely.
“Coach Thompson probably had as much impact on my life as any individual could have,” Jones said. “He changed the path that I would have taken. He was a very important person in that stage of my life.”
Jones said as a high school player, he never believed he would have the opportunity to play college football.
“I would have never thought that I had any ability to play at another level. I never would have even fathomed or undertook the idea of trying to play in college if it had not been for Coach Thompson. I was not even a quarterback until my senior year. I was a receiver and a running back. He was a brand new coach with a brand new staff.”
Jones said Thompson saw something in him as a player that he had not seen himself.
Jones’ team capped its year with a 12-2 record, with its only other season loss coming at Duncan, Okla. - a team Ardmore went on to defeat in the playoffs.
Jones said his high school team was predicted to have a 5-5 record, but ended being ranked as the No. 1 team prior to the upset in the final game.
“We averaged 166 pounds on offense and 168 pounds on defense,” Jones said. “We were tiny, but coach always preached to us we were going to win in the fourth quarter and in the last two minutes. We won eight games out of the 14 in the last two minutes.”
Jones said he will never forget Thompson’s leadership and still draws on his experiences as a high school player to lead the kids on his team today.
“Coach Thompson had an incredible ability to unite kids. Ardmore was sort of a unique place, demographically. We had a group of very distinguished white families. We had African American families and a group of Native American families. We all went to the same school, but we stuck to ourselves. We got along well, but we were never a unified group. Coach Thompson came in there and united us the first day he was there. It was awesome, and we became one family and it was all because of what he did the first day he showed up.”
After completing high school, Jones was accepted to Harding University in Searcy, Ark. and was a “walk on” player for the football team.
“I joke about this, but they had a depth chart on a board with all the names of the players and mine was hand-written on a toothpick at the bottom of the cork board,” Jones said. “I think I was No. 7 (quarterback) when I got there.”
Jones played on the university’s junior varsity team for two years, earned a scholarship in his junior year, and was the starting quarterback as a senior. Harding finished the year with a 4-6 record.
After graduation, Jones accepted a coaching position in Monroe, La. at Ouachita Christian School, where he stayed for seven years.
“We won a state championship in 1985,” Jones said. “We had an All-American quarterback who threw national and state record numbers of touchdown passes and signed with LSU.”
Jones’ path to Kerrville began in Louisiana and then Moore, Okla. to open a new school.
“I was the quarterback coach for four years,” Jones said. “We got beat in the fourth year of the school’s existence in the state championship in overtime.”
Jones then went to Edmond Memorial High School in Edmond, Okla. for two years, where he served as the offensive coordinator.
“We lost in the semi-finals in my first year and then got beat in the finals in my second year,” Jones said.
Jones then opened another new school at Edmond North as the head coach, where he stayed for one season.
“I had an opportunity to move to Allen, Texas as the offensive coordinator and took that job for five years,” Jones said. “I kind of worked my career backwards. Most coaches work to become a head coach, but I left a head coaching position to take an offensive coordinator position just because I wanted to be coaching Texas football. It worked out for me, but most coaches don’t go in that direction.”
Jones then went to Jersey Village in the Cypress-Fairbanks ISD in the Houston area for seven years, one year as a quarterback coach and six years as the offensive coordinator.
“Then I got an opportunity to open up Cy-Woods High School in 2006 as the head coach,” Jones said. “I was there for six years - two years as a sub-varsity head coach, since it was a new school and four varsity seasons.
Jones next move was to Kerrville.
According to Jones, Tivy will be his last coaching assignment and Kerrville will always be his home.
Jones and his wife, Holly, have three children. Their daughter, Ryan, began her first year of college this year and their twin sons, Carson and Cade, attend Hal Peterson Middle School.
“My wife is amazing. She knows when August gets here she’s on her own. She understands a coach’s moods and focus during the season and she is so supportive. Being a coach’s wife is not easy, and I am grateful to her to allow me to do the job that I love.”
Carson and Cade serve as ballboys during varsity games.
As Jones looks ahead to his career, he will not be ranking his success among his peers, but will looking week-to-week at his team and working toward their collective goal of winning a state championship. And when that happens, he’ll do what he’s always done - credit his entire coaching staff for any success the Antlers’ have.