Being born just before Thanksgiving in 1994 perhaps explains Darion Flowers’ appetite for success.
The JT senior, who starts both ways, wants three more wins to fulfill a childhood dream of a state championship, along with the rest of the Lions senior class born around the time of the school’s last titlist.
“This is it; this is our senior year,” said Flowers, who was born to Adrian and Lashan Flowers six days before JT defeated Plano East in a legendary 1994 regional contest resulting in an ESPY award for the Lions, who won the 5A state title three weeks later.
“We’re staying hungry and trying to get it done.”
The workload for Flowers doubled during the offseason. Over the past three months, that meant double the pleasure for Flowers.
Flower, who wears jersey No. 2, earned the starting nod at cornerback over the summer after spot duty on defense as a junior, when he starred on JT’s record-setting offense.
“I had to get it in my mind I’m doing it for my team and I can’t be selfish,” Flowers said of his mindset to pull double-duty. “I have to do what my coaches ask me to win football games. It makes me better. I see the defense a little differently. It pushes me to challenge myself on both sides of the ball.”
The throwback two-way starter showed his worth on both sides of the ball last week. Flowers reeled in a team-high seven balls for 89 yards and one touchdown on offense. On the defensive end, Flowers notched nine tackles, plus intercepted a pass and recovered a key fumble, both in the fourth quarter of JT’s 45-28 win over Frisco in the regional round.
“It felt good because I haven’t caused many turnovers,” said Flowers, whose fumble recovery thwarted Frisco’s potential go-ahead drive, and whose interception led to a game-clinching touchdown. “To help my team seal up a game, it was incredible.”
The JT defense benefited from the arrival of Flowers, and former full-time offensive players DeQuante Woods (LB) and Chris Mobley (DL). The JT secondary has been particularly solid, holding teams to 45 percent passing, with 20 interceptions compared to 18 throwing TDs allowed. JT is giving up 12 points less per game than last year.
“I feel we’ve come together playing sound and swarming to the ball,” said Flowers, who has 38 tackles with four takeaways on the season. “We’re doing everything we need to do to be a better defense.”
Flowers (6-0, 175) finished with 1,048 yards receiving as a junior for a state semifinalist team. He also started as a sophomore on a state quarterfinalist squad. The slick wideout, who is generating interest from non-BCS schools, makes a living going through the heart of defenses and quickly turning up the field.
“He’s the quiet assassin,” said JT head coach Ricklan Holmes, a former two-way standout at JT. “He doesn’t get the hype because he’s not 6-2, 180 or 190 pounds. But he’s a great receiver. He gets the job done.
“He’s opening the eyes of a lot of schools and scouts and they’re starting to roll in here and pay attention to him.”
Flowers, who surpassed the 900-yard mark receiving last week, exemplifies a JT offense playing with a sense of urgency. JT scored, on average, once every six plays last week. JT has scored 31 TDs of 30 yards or more this season, 19 TDs of 40-plus yards, and 12 TDs for 50-plus yards.
“You never know when the other team’s going to make a play,” said Flowers, who has 117 catches for 2,031 yards and 17 TDs over a three-year varsity career. “You have to go out and attack them. We take it as if it’s the last game.”
As for the near future, Flowers and the Lions want at least three more helpings of wins after failing to finish the course in recent years.
The table appears set for a possible sixth game, with JT the highest-ranked team left in Class 4A Division I. The Lions lead all remaining quarterfinalists with an average of 53.3 points per game in the playoffs.
“By now, it seems repetitive. We’re getting to the same spot and stopping,” said Flowers, who is referred to as “Chuck” by teammates. “It’s time to go all the way. That’s why we can’t be satisfied.”
LIONS’ TALES: John Tyler practiced with the speakers playing music at a high decibel level the past few weeks to simulate game situations. JT will be appearing in the state quarterfinals for the 14th time, including the eighth time over the past 19 seasons. JT (12-1) has won 12 games or more 10 times in school history. Frisco Centennial (12-1) is on the heels of its second straight 12-win season, and in the midst of its deepest run since the football program kicked off in 2004. …College recruiters from the likes of Houston Baptist, Mississippi State, North Texas, TCU and Texas State visited JT’s practices during the week. …Tickets to Friday’s state quarterfinal between JT and Frisco Centennial can be purchased today from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. – noon at the TISD athletic office (807 W. Glenwood), and at T&T Lewis (903 W. Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd.) during regular business hours. Tickets cost $5 for students, $7 for adults and $10 at the gate.