But as well as 2014 has begun, he can’t help but be excited about the future.
Jones worked with a lot of young players last year, and as exciting as it was to see the young prospects develop, the lack of veteran leadership might have been behind the early end to the season. Though the Chiefs went 17-9 overall, they were stuck in the middle of the pack as one of eight teams with winning records in Region 7AAAAA play.
With those young players now a year older, Sequoyah’s off to a promising start in 2014, with a 4-3 record heading into tonight’s game against Northview.
“We have some good chemistry,” Jones said. “I’m excited about this group that we have.”
Among the returners are senior Evan Ezell, Russ McGlamry, Jacob Cagle, Tristan Roberts and Tanner Norris. In all, there are 12 seniors on the roster.
“They are a fun group to be around,” Jones said. “They all get along and it’s a good, fun group.”
Daniel Seres, a sophomore who was part of the team as a freshman, is also expected to make an impact.
The Chiefs have also added outfielders Austin Smith and Adam Patterson and pitchers Charles Mitchell and Aditya Kumar. Junior pitcher Erikson Lanning moved in from Texas, and Jones expects the lefty Lanning to be used on the mound.
“Basically, we have all the guys we had last year, plus those new guys,” Jones said.
It’s Jones’ hope that, with the extra year of experience and development, the Chiefs will be able to advances out of a competitive Region 7AAAAA and into the state playoffs for the first time since 2009.
That isn’t to say that Sequoyah didn’t make great strides last season. The Chiefs regained their winning ways after struggling to a 2-24 record in 2012.
For Jones, part of turning the program around is developing a solid team and not just good individual players. Someone who is a starting pitcher on his travel team during the summer may be a reliever at Sequoyah or play in the field. Others are used in specific situations or against specific opponents.
All of it is about putting together a team.
Weems, Lanning, Ezell, Kumar, Roberts, Mitchel and Brantley Flanagan have all seen time on the mound.
Other members of the team include Tyler Holmes, Brian Exley, Devin McCleskey and Grant Pfost.
Patterson, Smith and Norris are staples in the outfield. Catches duties are spread among Seres, Ezell and McGlamry. Holmes, Roberts and Exley share time at first when they aren’t on the mound.
With the exception of Weems, Lanning, Mitchel and Kumar, all the pitchers are also on the roster as position players.
Jones said the versatility is simply because many of his players can pitch if needed and many of his pitchers are solid hitters who Jones wants to be able to play in the field, so they can be in the lineup as often as possible.
In the end, the goal is putting a competitive team on the field each night.
“As a coach, I need to put the players in the positions where we can win the game,” Jones said. “As players, it’s their job to execute.”
Sequoyah (4-3, 1-0), which has already faced each of the other Cherokee County teams, opened Region 7AAAAA play Monday with an 8-5 win over Riverwood. The Chiefs will not play another non-region game unless they qualify for the state playoffs.