By Tim Chambers
The Johnson County football team has been defeating all odds over the past two seasons by being ranked in the Class 3-A Associated Press State polls for 19 consecutive weeks. But none of that compares to the odds that Jamal Scott overcame to finally fulfill his dream as a starter on this year’s football team.
Scott will display his talents as a defensive end and senior leader for the 2019 Longhorns when they open the season against Sullivan East at home on August 23. But nobody could have predicted this would happen back during his junior high days.
Jamal had wanted to play football all his life but couldn’t do so because of brain surgery that he had at six years old. He touched on his long journey that finally landed him a starting role on this year’s football squad.
“Football is all that I’ve ever wanted to do,” said Scott. “The doctors wouldn’t let me play any youth league sports until I reached the eighth grade. It was hard watching everyone participate and not being able to do what I had always dreamed of.”
The call finally came seven years after the surgery when doctors cleared him to start playing finally. He described the news with a huge grin on his face.
“It was like heaven to me when I heard the words that I could finally begin playing. Coach Matt Bray put me on the junior high team, and I was probably the happiest student in Johnson County.”
But things didn’t come easy for Scott when he first suited up in full gear. He said that it had been a five-year learning process since the first day that he put on the pads.
“I didn’t even know how to get down in a stance my first day of practice, and that’s very important if you’re a lineman,” added Scott. “I had a ton of catching up to do and playing time didn’t come easy. But Coach Bray kept working with me and he encouraged me to give my all. I played only a couple of plays in the jamboree, but I moved up to varsity and stayed there all season. I couldn’t get enough of it.”
Scott credited football for him being able to make a lot of new friends and opening doors that he hadn’t had open before.
“I became close to my teammates and got to meet a lot of people. I got to know many of my teachers and some of them that I didn’t know until I started playing football. It was a win-win for me. I was playing my favorite sports and loving every minute of it.”
“The passion for taking the field on a Friday night has never been better for Scott as he enters his senior campaign. Last year he started a few games at defensive end, and he hopes to contribute much more to this year’s squad.
“My goal is to average between six to eight tackles per game,” said Scott. “My job as a defensive end is to set up the tackles for our linebackers and prevent anyone from getting to the outside. I also hope to maybe play some offensive guard, and that would be special too. I’ve always wanted to get some pancake blocks, and being in that role would allow me to do so.”
Jamal loves being one of the senior leaders on the team but said that Jared Kimble and Curtis Lowe would be the two main cogs.
“They are very good at what they do,” said Scott. “They are excellent leaders that everyone looks up to. It’s pretty cool going from not ever playing football five years ago to now being a starter. I don’t take anything for granted because I know how hard it was for me to get here and I want to lead by example.”
Scott said the team’s goal was to win a third consecutive conference championship and advance past the second round of the state playoffs. He feels like that can be accomplished if they can cut down on some miscues.
“I can see us being conference champs again if we can correct our mistakes. We have to potential to go a long way if we can get everything fixed over the next couple of weeks. At times we’re our own worst enemy.”
Scott is the son of Diana Mock of Shady Valley and Jonathan Scott of Gray. He plans on going into the medical field, possibly
some therapy, but for now, he’ll continue to defeat all odds.
He’s hoping that his “heaven” extends for another 13 games plus in 2019.