Anthony Cittadino, Staff Writer
Born and raised in New Hartford, coach Bob Jones found a connection that has paved the road for a long and successful career in football. Jones has spent almost his whole life on the field, coaching New Hartford varsity football for 37 years (15 years as head coach).
Jones found his love for football at a young age and played as a New Hartford Spartan throughout his high school career. After high school, Jones took his talents to Utica College. Jones, a former offensive lineman, currently coaches offensive line for the Pioneers. Nothing has changed for the 66-year-old.
UC was a great place for Jones, not only on the field but in the classroom as well. Jones graduated with a degree in education that specialized in global studies. After his final playing days at UC, Jones took a year off from football to begin his career as a junior high school social studies teacher at New Hartford.
“I was 24-years-old when I got into coaching. It was my second year as a teacher,” Jones said. “I wanted to be involved again.”
Jones started on the staff in 1974 under head coach Don Edick and worked his way up to assistant coach.
Once Jones left New Hartford in 2011, he immediately began to get involved with the UC football program.
“I met coach Faggiano through recruiting when he was at St. John Fisher because he recruited in the Central New York area,” Jones said. “New Hartford was one of his schools and I sat down to talk with him well over a dozen times. We sent a number of players his way to play at Fisher. When we spoke, it was always brought up that he wanted me to come help out. The first couple of years when he took over the program at UC I was still wasn’t ready to make the move and after a while I said to myself now is the time. I couldn’t be happier about the move.”
Jones’ successors have received the benefits of knowing the former lineman.
“I don’t know how to put into words how important Coach Jones is to this program. He puts in so much of his time into helping out not only the team but he also puts in time into every offensive lineman on the practice field, in film and in your personal life,” Senior offensive lineman Austin Berninger said. “Coach Jones is famous for his hand-fighting drills that we do in practice. It’s so important for lineman too have good hand fighting skills. There is no doubt that he has made me a better player and a better person off the field as well. He shows what it takes to be a good person, coach, father and husband and I believe a lot of young athletes that he has coached and mentored through out the years strive to be like him.”
Jones has left this impression on many players throughout his career. Star New Hartford running back, Joseph Carcone, who played for Jones from 2006-2010, had similar thoughts.
“Coach Jones was impeccable in every aspect of his life. He showed me how much more I could love the game,” Carcone said. “On and off the field he was there for you, no matter what it was if you needed him, he was there.”
Carcone went on to become the all-time rushing leader for New Hartford football while winning a Section III Class A title under Jones.
Jones has had a spectacular career on the field and inside the classroom.
The only difficulty Jones had was picking which single memory was his favorite.
“Well, in the late 80s early 90s we won four sectional titles in a row and five titles within six years. Mixed into all of that there was two undefeated seasons which resulted in a 37-game win streak within our league,” Jones said.
“Another nice memory I will always have is the kids that I coached and the relationships we have made through the years. Still to this day, kids that are in their 50s now still call me Coach Jones, which I find kind of weird, but they do and it’s still nice to hear. Football creates a special bond that you don’t find a lot. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a tough sport with tough people but the bond that is created between coaches and players, and players and players, and still some of my best friends are guys that I played with in high school and college. It’s just the way it is.”
Jones has left an everlasting impression on the New Harford educational committee as well as the UC campus. He still strives to become a better coach and role model every day.
“Overall, it’s been a great experience. I’d do it all again in a heart beat,” Jones said.
Jones plans to finish his coaching career at UC, but has not yet figured how long that will be – most likely whenever his wife advises him to stop.