As a wide receiver and kick returner, Coatesville's Chris Jones, a breakaway threat on every touch, has regularly wowed spectators.
But despite his impact for the Red Raiders and eye-catching statistics, the 5-foot-11, 165-pound senior has not drawn a similar reaction from college recruiters.
"I'm surprised I'm not getting much interest," he said. "But with the recruiting process, you just never know. It's tricky."
Villanova head coach Andy Talley and top assistant Mark Ferrante were at Coatesville last week to touch base with Jones and senior quarterback Emmett Hunt.
A Rhode Island assistant was at school two weeks ago to check in with Jones. Maine and Stony Brook have also shown preliminary interest. None have offered a scholarship.
"I'm trying to be patient," Jones said. "It's something that's really out of my hands at this point. The main focus for me is helping my team."
At 6 p.m. on Saturday at HersheyPark Stadium, Jones and the Red Raiders (13-2) will take on District 7's North Allegheny (15-0) for the PIAA Class AAAA state championship.
"I was just watching a couple of clips from their games," Jones said on Sunday afternoon. "I'm still trying to see what we're up against."
On Friday, with Jones making six receptions for 92 yards and two scores, Coatesville held off La Salle, 42-35, in a thrilling semifinal at Downingtown West's Kottmeyer Stadium.
Trailing by 42-21 early in the fourth quarter, the Explorers (12-2) rallied to make things interesting down the stretch. They scored twice and were in position, at the Coatesville 19, for a third. Devonte Suber's interception at the 12-yard line clinched the victory.
"It was a little scary at the end, but we're used to adversity," said Jones, who was used as a nickel back on La Salle's final drive. "We bank on somebody making a big play at the right time."
With 29 seconds left until intermission, Jones' 3-yard TD catch put the District 1 champs ahead by 28-14. "It was a 'whip' route," he said. "I ran a slant to the inside and then quickly went back outside. It's a good play for getting separation."
Midway through the third quarter, Jones caught a pass from Hunt at the 12, spun off a defender, and finished a 30-yard score that upped the advantage to 35-21.
For the season, Jones has 68 catches for an area-best 1,482 yards and 24 TDs. He has brought back two punts, covering 58 and 54 yards, for scores.
Hunt, a first-year starter, hit on 16 of 24 passes for 231 yards and three TDs. Junior halfback Daquan Worley carried 28 times for 156 yards and two scores.
Jones said he, Worley, and senior wideout/kick returner Dre Boggs were clocked in the 40-yard dash during a camp at Maryland. Worley was the fastest among the trio with a time of 4.52 seconds, Boggs (4.55) was runner-up, and Jones (4.6) took third.
Of Boggs, Jones said: "He can just pull away from people. His game speed is unbelievable."
Coatesville will try for its first state crown against North Allegheny, which has outscored foes by a combined score of 608-112. The Tigers buried District 3's Wilson-West Lawn, 45-10, in Saturday's semifinal.
La Salle-Coatesville. La Salle's Sean Coleman, a multipurpose standout, did not return after suffering a left-ankle sprain with 31/2 minutes remaining in the first quarter. Two other Explorers, two-way lineman Tom Spiteri (knee) and fullback/linebacker Mike Eife (ankle), also were lost to first-half injuries. In the second quarter, Eife, after making a 44-yard catch along the right sideline that set up Jimmy Herron's 7-yard TD run, was blasted by Coatesville cornerback Jason Totoram.
At HersheyPark Stadium.
Dunmore (14-1) vs. Clairton (15-0), 1 p.m.
Archbishop Wood (12-2) vs. Erie Cathedral Prep (14-0),
Wyomissing (15-0) vs. Aliquippa (15-0), noon.
Coatesville (13-2) vs. North Allegheny (15-0), 6 p.m.
Rick O'Brien: The Inquirer TOP 10
Last week's rankings in parentheses.
1. Coatesville (2) 13-2
2. La Salle (1) 12-2
3. St. Joseph's Prep (3) 10-1
4. Arch. Wood (4) 12-2
5. Downingtown East (7) 10-1
6. Spring-Ford (6) 12-3
7. Pennridge (8) 12-2
8. Pennsbury (9) 9-3
9. Episcopal Acad. (10) 10-0
10. Imhotep (5) 14-1
Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Central Bucks South (10-2), Interboro (11-3), Neshaminy (9-4), Pottsgrove (11-1), Ridley (11-1), West Chester Henderson (9-4).
- Rick O'Brien