After a week of disappointing developments, including the injury to team leader Demetrius "Boo Boo" McKay and a key district loss to Hernando, Zephyrhills High football coach Tom Fisher may have found a ray of hope.
Former starting offensive and defensive standout Spence F. Jones, who was suspended indefinitely from the team after being arrested in a burglary case, has been reinstated by school authorities and will suit up for today's game at Land O'Lakes.
Jones, a 5-foot-11, 205-pounder who played tight end and linebacker, was arrested along with two other teenagers on Sept. 14 and charged with four counts of auto burglary in the Wesley Chapel area, police records show.
Police reports say Jones, 17, of 38448 Venus Ave., Zephyrhills, admitted that all three teenagers planned to commit the burglaries and that on two occasions, he acted as a "lookout" while the burglaries were taking place.
From the point of his arrest, Jones was not allowed to practice or play.
But he said he was notified by the State Attorney's Office last week that the charges had been dropped. That opened the door for principal Jim Davis and head coach Tom Fisher to reinstate him.
"After speaking to all the parties, Spence Jones has been reinstated," said Davis. "He is now eligible for football."
Added Fisher: "He's gotten his one break. He's got to live up to his end of the bargain for the rest of his athletic career not just football."
The return of Jones could be the shot in the arm the Bulldogs need to recover from the disappointment of last Friday's 20-8 loss to Hernando.
In his last appearance in a Zephyrhills uniform, Jones was an integral part of the Bulldogs' stunning 30-0 beating of Pasco. He had 10 tackles, three tackles for a loss, one hurry, one caused fumble and one fumble recovery.
"I'm glad to have a second chance," said Jones, who has practiced with the team the last two days and is expected to see some time on defense in tonight's game at Land O'Lakes. "I missed the game, but really missed the fellas."
_ Staff Writer Roger Mills contributed to this report.