Prep Football

Iowa City High's Zach Jones flashes skills at Iowa Shrine Bowl before walking on at Iowa State

Jones catches 6 passes for 122 yards, including TDs of 11 and 89 yards, as South routs North, 59-14

CEDAR FALLS — Zach Jones relished one more opportunity to don a Little Hawk football helmet.

In the process, the Iowa City High graduate gave Iowa State fans an early glimpse of the competitiveness, versatility and athleticism he will bring to Ames this fall.

“It was fun,” Jones said after catching six passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns for the South All-Star Squad in a 59-14 victory over the North in the Iowa Shrine Bowl on Saturday at the UNI-Dome. “I came together with a lot of these guys I didn’t know at first, made some of the best brothers of my life.”

Jones caught an 11-yard TD pass from Mount Vernon quarterback Drew Adams in the second quarter, then flashed his speed with an 89-yard score from South Offensive MVP Will McElvain of Des Moines Lincoln in the third.

The 5-foot-10, 175-pound receiver was an all-area selection by The Gazette after a senior year in which he was second in Class 4A in receptions (77), fourth in yards (1,045) and accounted for 12 total touchdowns.

Jones also returned two punts for 31 yards on Saturday. He turned down a scholarship offer from Division-II Minnesota State in order to walk on at Iowa State, where coaches like his potential as a slot receiver and a punt returner.

“Talking to my family, I just felt like it was the best fit for me,” Jones said. “I know my family is behind it, so I was happy with that. … It’s nice up there. Nice campus, coaches seem cool.”

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Adams finished the game with seven completions for 60 yards, the TD to Jones and one interception. The state career leader in touchdown passes (106) will play at NAIA-level Grand View in Des Moines.

“I think ever since the day that I went there, I just felt comfortable there,” Adams said. “Whether it is the coaches or the players or the people on campus, I just felt comfortable. It felt like the right fit for me, so I just couldn’t deny myself that feeling.”

Iowa walk-on lineman Nathan Nelson of Waukee was the defensive MVP for the South, which set records for most points scored and largest margin of victory in the 46-year history of the event, which raises money for the Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Another Iowa walk-on, receiver Blair Brooks of Marion, was the offensive MVP for the North. Brooks caught three passes for 99 yards, including a 20-yard TD from Waukon quarterback Abe Schwartz in the second quarter.

Cedar Rapids Jefferson receiver Kyler Bell closed out his own versatile prep career with two catches for 43 yards for the North. His eight-yard TD from Schwartz in the second quarter capped the scoring for the North.

At Jefferson, Bell played two years of soccer, was a two-year starter on the basketball team, set the single-season school record for receiving yards in football (717) and even cracked the varsity tennis lineup this past spring.

“Tennis was honestly probably one of the hardest sports I’ve ever played,” Bell said. “It was tough to get it down, but it was really fun.”

Bell will play college football in Fayette for Division-II Upper Iowa, where he could compete at receiver or cornerback.

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“I’m going to out there and they’re still deciding if they want me to play offense or defense,” Bell said. “I want to lean more towards the offensive side and they said they need a few receivers.”

Linebacker Ben Granstra of Western Christian was the defensive MVP for the North.

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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