January 19, 2010 5:16:00 PM
Adam Minichino - email@example.com
STARKVILLE -- Assists are just as good as goals to Frankie Jones.
If pushed to give a preference, Jones isn''t going to deny he enjoys scoring goals a little bit more.
But you wouldn''t know it by Jones'' performance so far this season.
The Starkville Academy senior forward/midfielder notched four goals and four assists to help the Volunteers close the week with victories against Heritage Academy and Magnolia Heights.
Jones'' efforts helped Starkville Academy improve to 7-0 on the season.
For his accomplishments, Jones is The Commercial Dispatch Prep Player of the Week.
Jones has seven goals and nine assists this season after playing primarily as a flank defender last season. That role wasn''t new to Jones considering he typically plays defense on his Select team and with the Mississippi Olympic Development Program team.
In school soccer, though, Jones is getting a chance to showcase his blazing speed on the right flank. The result has been the emergence of a sure-footed threat who has flashed deadly accuracy with his touch and has helped his teammates finish scoring chances.
"I think I have been better at crossing the balls in," Jones said. "I am pretty fast, and I like being on the outside and having room to run."
Jones, a 5-foot-8, 155-pounder, has teamed with Will Goodwin, Roy Miles, Kris Simmons, and Patrick Jones to form a potent attack. Starkville Academy first-year coach Art Cosby said the unselfishness of those players and the entire team has been a key to the squad''s success.
Cosby said he knew Frankie Jones played defense last season, but he didn''t want to disrupt the chemistry the players up top had, so he opted to push him into an attacking role.
The decision has paid consistent dividends.
"He is an extremely fast kid who has good ball skills," Cosby said. "He is tough and he uses his body well. He plays soccer year-round and he is dedicated to it, and it shows."
Cosby said Frankie Jones'' love for soccer translates to his teammates. He said the forwards and midfielders have been playing together for so long that they can anticipate where each other will be. That ability makes it easy for someone like Jones, who can deliver a cross in stride from the right side to a spot in the 18-yard box, to be extremely dangerous.
"They understand the game," Cosby said of his experienced attacking players. "They want to win the game and do what it takes. That is not always easy to coach that."
Jones likes how everything has jelled. He feels his ability to be a facilitator and a scorer has allowed other players to emerge, which gives the team plenty of scoring options.
Seven matches into the season, nothing has given the Volunteers reason to doubt themselves.
"Coming into the season, we thought we were going to go all of the way," Jones said. "I figured we might lose or one or two games, but I guess we''ll see how it works out."
Ever the perfectionist, Jones remembers the scoring chances he didn''t place well enough or he kicked right at the goalkeeper. But he hopes scoring three goals against Magnolia Heights and getting one goal and two assists against Heritage Academy has "taken a load off" his shoulders.
"It makes me feel more confident and I think it is going to make me more relaxed and have confidence on the ball to make better passes and shots," Jones said.
Jones said he is weighing his options for soccer in college. He said he is considering playing soccer at Mississippi Gulf Coast or Itawamba Community College or going to Mississippi State to study biological sciences.
Starkville Academy had a match against Caledonia on Saturday canceled. But the teams will get a chance to play at 4 p.m. Thursday. The Volunteers then will take on Clarksdale-Lee at noon Saturday.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.