Dameon Jones said Saturday he wants to be “the next George Smith.”
Jones, who joined Chaminade-Madonna back in August after turning Hallandale High into a state title contender in recent years, said Saturday his plan is to bring sustained success to the Lions similar to the kind achieved by Smith, the legendary former coach at national powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas.
“No way [this is a one-year stop for me],” Jones said. “I’ve been telling people that me and George Smith — I’m trying to be the next George Smith. It’s one year at a time.”
Chaminade-Madonna was listed among the nation’s best teams this past spring, ranked No. 44 by MaxPreps.
This came off a 2015 season under then-coach Jason Milgrom, a longtime former assistant coach at St. Thomas Aquinas, during which Chaminade went 7-3 before losing a competitive game against Oxbridge Academy in the first round of the playoffs.
But days before the start of fall practice, the Lions found themselves without a coach following Milgrom’s unexpected resignation.
Jones was announced as the school’s new coach shortly thereafter.
The Lions went on to win their first district title since 2009 and advanced to their first state final since 2005 — the last time they won a state championship. Among the Lions’ three impressive playoff wins on the road to state was a 30-13 second-round win over Oxbridge Academy, which was ranked No. 1 in the state in 3A entering the postseason.
The season’s finish was not what Jones and his players hoped as Chaminade lost 24-13 to Jacksonville Trinity Christian, which won its fourth consecutive state championship.
But it’s something the Lions though tthey could learn from.
“I’m proud of this team and this program for what we got done this season,” Jones said. “Nobody expected us to be here and here we are [Saturday], and taking on a three-time defending state champion was a tall order but at the end of the day, I’m proud of these kids. They fought.
“Now we’re getting the core group of this team back next year, we’ll regroup and try to get back up here again and finish the job.”
Chaminade graduates five starters on offense and four on defense, but returns several key playmakers including running back and Auburn commitment Shaun Shivers and receiver Xavier Williams on offense and defensive end/offensive tackle Davoan Hawkins.
The Lions’ starting secondary of Keontra Smith, James Williams, Tecory Couch and Anthony Johnson are all sophomores.
“With what happened before the season, we still did our best,” Williams said. “For me, Monday [is when] the next season starts. With what we’ve accomplished this year, I think this program can only move up.”
Shivers ran for 140 yards on 20 carries Saturday, including an 80-yard touchdown on the game’s first play, and finished with 769 yards and 10 touchdowns in four postseason games.
“We’re going to be way better [next season],” Shivers said. “We’re going to start strong and finish strong. We love Coach Jones. He came in here and did a great job. It was tough at the beginning because we had to get used to a lot of new coaches but I’m really proud of the way we came together as a team.”