On Dec. 15, 2001, Josh Jones and D.J. Crane both received Bachelor of Science degrees in health and physical education from Arkansas Tech University.
Almost nine years to the day later, they were together again. Only this time they were wearing coaching gear rather than caps and gowns.
Jones (photographed, top right), head football coach at Magazine High School, led the Rattlers to their first-ever state championship with a 48-20 win over the Danville Little Johns in the Class 2A title game at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock on Saturday, Dec. 11.
Crane (photographed, bottom right), head football coach at Danville High School, guided the Little Johns to their first state title game appearance since 2002.
Magazine finished its season with an undefeated record of 14-0. Danville finished 13-2, with both losses coming at the hands of the Rattlers.
The Little Johns were guilty of six turnovers in a 28-24 setback against Magazine during the regular season.
Turnovers were also the difference in the state title game. Danville again lost the football six times and the Rattlers scored three defensive touchdowns.
It was the end of one of the more unlikely state championship stories in recent memory.
Jones, who also serves in the Air National Guard 188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office, was greeted by five players when he started fall practice for his first season as Magazine head coach five years ago. He ended up with 13 players on a team that ultimately went 0-10 that season.
But Jones built his program brick by brick. Magazine, which did not field a football team for a time in the early 1990s, reached the state semifinals in 2009 before going all the way in 2010.
"There's no words for this," said Jones to the assembled media after the state championship game. "I don't know that there's ever been anything bigger than this done in Magazine. This is pretty big. We did this for our town. I'm so proud of our little town. There's only 900 and something people there. We try to do everything the right way and our school has so much to be proud of."]]>