Walton thriving at TA with his dad on the coaching staff


Jaevon Walton leads Tuscaloosa Academy in rushing and scoring. (Photo by File photo)


When Jaevon Walton was in the seventh grade, his father saw him in a football uniform and doubted that he’d ever become a player.

"I thought there was no way," John Copeland said.

A year later, Walton seemed to develop the kind of attitude he needed to succeed.

"He was showing what it takes to be good at anything, and that’s determination and want-to," Copeland said.

Walton, who grew up to stand 6 feet tall and weigh 225 pounds, is a junior fullback and linebacker at Tuscaloosa Academy. Copeland is the defensive coordinator on head coach Robert Johnson’s staff. The 3-0 Knights are ranked No. 7 in the latest AISA poll.

Walton said he doesn’t feel any extra pressure in knowing that his father is coaching.

"When I’m out there, I have a sense of comfort," Walton said. "I know when I mess up he may get on me, but at the end of the day he’s still my dad and he still loves me. When we’re at home, we’re best friends. As long as I get a ‘good game’ from him, that’s all I really need."

Copeland went from Valley High School to a junior college in Mississippi before joining the University of Alabama football team for the 1991 season. Copeland was a defensive end for the Crimson Tide, which went 11-1.

A year later, Copeland and fellow defensive end Eric Curry were consensus All-Americans as Alabama went 11-0 in the regular season. No. 2-ranked Alabama beat Florida 28-21 in the first SEC Championship Game and claimed the national championship with a 34-13 victory over Miami.

Copeland was a first-round NFL Draft choice in 1993 and played eight seasons for the Cincinnati Bengals.

"All the Alabama players told me, ‘If you’re half of what your dad is, you’re pretty good,’" Walton said. "What I saw was the motor. It seems like he never got tired when he was out there. He just wanted to dominate the person in front of him every play. When I watched the films, that’s what I saw the most.

"I saw that he was strong. He wasn’t weight-room strong. He was just like naturally, country-man strong."

Walton leads the Knights with 382 yards rushing and seven touchdowns.

"When (former TA coach) Wayne Brantley said he wanted to play Jaevon at running back in Jaevon’s eighth-grade year, I told Wayne he was crazy," Copeland said. "Wayne believed that he could. He got Jaevon to believe that he could, and the rest is history."

Walton had a couple of touchdown runs that went longer than 60 yards in the first quarter against Lyman Ward Military Academy.

"I don’t hold Jaevon to any higher standards than I hold anybody else on our football team," Copeland said.

"When we’re out there on the football field, I’m a coach. The dad-and-son relationship doesn’t follow us on the football field. I expect him to do everything everybody else is doing."

Knights lose versatile Brown

Tuscaloosa Academy plays at home Friday, facing 3-0 Morgan Academy of Selma.

Robert Johnson, Tuscaloosa Academy’s head coach, said junior Torrence Brown will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury that required surgery.

Brown, 6-4 and 215 pounds, started at linebacker and wingback and also played as a split end and member of the special teams.

Johnson said there’s a chance that Brown could be back for basketball season.

"He’s an impact player, a Division I football player," Johnson said. "Any time you lose one of those it affects your team, but our guys realize that we’ve go to step up and replace him, so we’re going to do the best we can."

Brown had 150 rushing yards and three touchdowns and 32 receiving yards and two scoring receptions.

 

Demopolis Tigers honor

Tre’ Jones

Tre’ Jones, a senior on Demopolis’ 2009 Class 5A championship team, was honored with a memorial service before last Friday’s game against Citronelle.

Jones, who was a University of Alabama student, drowned in the Black Warrior River in April.

Demopolis coach Tom Causey said Jones was a defensive end and outside linebacker and played tight end in goal-line situations.

"He played with a lot of will," Causey said.

"He was a great teammate. He was willing to do anything the coaches asked him to do, and he always did it with a smile on his face."

Jones’ parents were presented with a shadow box that contained Jones’ No. 19 jersey. Causey said a plaque will be placed inside the stadium as a memorial for Jones.

In Jones’ final game, Demopolis won the title by beating Russellville in Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium.

"He gave so much of himself so the team could be successful," Causey said. "I know he understood how big it was."

After the ceremony Friday, Demopolis scored 21 points in the first quarter and went on to defeat Citronelle 41-0.

"Our kids did what they were supposed to do in a situation like that," Causey said.

 

Linden romps

in region opener

The No. 2-ranked Linden Patriots overwhelmed J.U. Blacksher 58-0 in their first Class 1A, Region 1 victory.

Linden gained 348 yards rushing on 22 attempts. Marquis Shelton went for 125 yards on three carries and scored three touchdowns. Jamal Lewis gained 102 yards and scored two touchdowns.

Linden’s defense allowed 109 yards. Chris Rogers led the Patriots with 11 tackles.

Lewis leads Pickens Academy

In three games, Pickens Academy junior quarterback Josh Lewis has rushed for 680 yards on 39 carries. Lewis, who is averaging 17.4 yards per attempt, has scored nine touchdowns. Pickens Academy, which is 3-0 and averaging 44.3 points per game, hosts South Choctaw Academy Friday.

 

The high school notebook runs each Thursday. Reach Andrew Carroll at andrew.carroll@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.