Jed Malone is known for his no-nonsense and serious attitude on the football field.
In 2004-05, he was a standout linebacker for the Sonora Wildcats. He was the defensive captain and earned First Team All-Valley Oak League honors while helping lead the Wildcats to the section championship game.
He always came to practice prepared. He came to games prepared.
Eight years after he graduated from Sonora, nothing has changed.
He’s intense, he’s serious and he’s back on the Sonora sidelines as the Wildcats defensive coordinator.
“He was always prepared as a kid in 2005 and he’s the same as a coach, high intensity, high energy, well-prepared,” said Wildcat head coach Bryan Craig, who was the defensive coordinator when Malone played. “He brings all that energy and is just a go-getter. He does a great job making sure the kids are prepared. A lot of people make fun of the fact that he’s so intense and seems to be angry all the time, but he’s not. He loves the kids, he loves to coach and he’s great to have out here.”
Malone’s defensive design skills have led to two shutout victories for Sonora this season. That’s not too bad considering the Wildcats have shutout just two foes over the last seven seasons.
Designing defenses should seem easy. Maybe. In his non-football time, at his real job, Malone designs jib cranes among various other projects as a civil engineer for Hetch Hetchy, the City and County of San Francisco.
Malone has been able to break down his defensive designs, making it easy for the Wildcats.
“He’s a great coach, he’s made me personally a 10-times better linebacker than I ever was,” said Wildcat co-captain Steve Lawrence. “He’s real disciplined and makes everything real simple for everyone to figure out. He gives us the materials to learn it all, he just does a great job.”
Those materials he gives to his defense are actual tests on what their assignments they have for that given week. And what happens if those players fail that those tests?
“They run,” said Malone with a wry smile.
After giving up over 30 points per contest last year, the Wildcats are surrendering just over 21 this season.
Malone has his hands full this week after watching Friday night’s opponent Kimball on film. The Jaguars (4-4, 3-2 VOL) have one of the premier running backs in the VOL, Gaige Allen. He’s averaging over 10 yards per carry and have already played against traditional powers Oakdale, Manteca and Sierra. He’s already rushed for 1,085 on the season with 16 TDs.
Can designing multi-million dollar pieces of machinery help build some kind of plan to stop a potent rushing attack that averages 250 yards per game?
“In the details of what Kimball does and how they block things, that kind of correlates with my job,” Malone said. “Looking at the minor details and making sure every things covered. But they definitely scare me with their speed. They run the ball and that plays to our strengths. I think we’re a fairly physical defense and we play pretty good against the run. There are not a lot of teams that have driven the ball on us, but we’ve given up the big play. We’ve gotta eliminate that Friday night. If we can eliminate that big play I think we’ll play really good defense.”
“No. 1, we gotta wrap up when we tackle,” Lawrence said. “I’m not worried about our aggressiveness and how mean we’re gonna be, we just have to wrap up because that No. 32 (Allen) is a pretty shifty guy. He’s one of those guys where you give him one little bit of space, he’s gonna spin right out of there and be gone. And No. 2, we have to pursue so we have everyone there and he gets punished.”
The Wildcats (3-5, 3-2 VOL) must win Friday if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive. With a win, Sonora would face Oakdale for the final time in the VOL, with a possible playoff berth on the line. Kimball is coming off a 35-14 victory over Oakdale and is also looking to play in postseason.
Kickoff at Dunlavy Field is at 7 p.m.
What would a victory do?
“If we beat Kimball Friday night,” Craig said, “we’re be riding sky high.”