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Good memories for Gadson-Jones, Imhotep

MILLIONS of people watch the Super Bowl on TV each year, of course, but as the years proceed memories can get a little fuzzy.

MILLIONS of people watch the Super Bowl on TV each year, of course, but as the years proceed memories can get a little fuzzy.

Let's see. Which teams played in 2004? In what year did Tampa Bay beat Oakland? Who was the MVP in 2009?

Tevin Gadson-Jones would probably stumble with one or more of those questions, but everything about Super Bowl XL, which produced a 21-10 win by the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Seattle Seahawks on Feb. 5, 2006, remains vivid.

"I watched that game with my mom," Gadson-Jones said. "She passed a couple days later. Really, that was the last cool moment we had together."

Gadson-Jones said his mother, Tanya Jones, who succumbed to a combination of heart/kidney problems, and whose memory he honors with a tattoo on his upper left arm, was something of a tomboy in her youth. She loved football, and knew it cold, and always dreamed of seeing Tevin in action.

"That never happened," Tevin said. "I was always too heavy for Pop Warner. I couldn't start playing football until the season after my mom died."

Gadson-Jones, a 6-1, 288-pound senior guard, on Saturday completed his senior campaign with Imhotep Charter. Not that he wanted to. Or expected to.

The Panthers entered a PIAA Class AA semifinal, played against Wyomissing at the Germantown Super Site, with 14 wins and no defeats and another triumph would have given them the all-time city record. Alas, they suffered a 35-13 setback and Gadson-Jones, for one, took it like a punch to the gut.

He has been through so much.

He suffers from asthma and twice last week - a few days apart - was forced to miss practice due to buildups of phlegm. And during his 4 years with Imhotep's program, issues with being, as he put it, "young and dumb" in classrooms and hallways often kept him out of uniform.

Though Gadson-Jones always hoped to become a starter, he could never be sure it would happen. Once it did, well, he would have enjoyed somehow extending this season for many more months. Years, even.

"It's hard to put my feelings into words," Gadson-Jones said. "I keep thinking about the whole 4 years, how we could never make it past Bok [in Public AA]. Then, to make it here, to where I was one game away from living my dream . . . Just fell short. We were definitely focused, but Wyomissing played a better game."

Gadson-Jones played right guard this season and his blocking helped the primary rushers, David Williams (1,790) and Eerin Young (1,054), combine for an outrageous amount of yards. Like many offenses, the Panthers' favored the right side and that gave Gadson-Jones, who worked next to junior tackle Aaron Ruff, a chance to make an impact.

In this one, Williams carried 22 times for 140 yards and a 50-yard touchdown while finalizing his career totals at 576 carries/4,652/58; he played for West Catholic in 2010 and '11 after posting one rush for no yards in '09 at now-closed North Catholic.

The Panthers' other score was a 44-yard rush, out of a Wildcat formation on fourth-and-11, by Deandre Scott.

Over time, Gadson-Jones said, though it took him a while to see the light, losing his mother has helped to make him stronger.

"I see things differently now," he said. "I know what I can do in life. Coach Albie [Crosby, Imhotep's first-year boss] has had a great impact on me and I thank him for that.

"And Imhotep is an awesome school. It's changed me. I never thought about going to college someday. But now that's my goal. I want to major in sports management so I can spend my time around a football team."

During the week, Gadson-Jones lives with his father, Terry Gadson, on Hollis Street, a short walk from Martin Luther King High. On weekends he often heads for New Holland, Pa., not far from Lancaster, to stay with his brother, Terry Gadson Jr., a lineman for Germantown in 2005. A cousin, Akeem Johnson, was one of the Pub's top rushers that season.

Now, despite this loss, Imhotep, which outscored its opponents, 651-108, and upped the Pub record for wins from 12 to 14, will own a pretty nifty piece of history.

"I'm so proud of my teammates," Gadson-Jones said. "I couldn't be with a better group."