When one has a family tree that includes someone famous, there might be a natural inclination to seek out that person as often as possible about a subject both parties have in common.
Lackawanna Trail senior Shawn Jones does, and he does find a way to stay in touch with his uncle, Mike Munchak, on game nights.
“He always texts me before my game, and we always talk after, about something I did or didn’t do,” Jones said. “To me, he’s just Uncle Mike, and just a normal guy; I never really thought about it until now. Obviously, he’s one of the greatest players to ever play the game.”
Lions head coach Steve Jervis appreciates those conversations he never hears.
“Shawn comes from a great family with a very athletic background,” Jervis said. “Both of his sisters were very successful athletes at Lackawanna Trail.
“I guess you have high expectations for him since Munchak is his mom’s brother, was a Hall of Fame lineman for the Houston Oilers and is currently the offensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers.”
Care to guess what position Jones sees as his strongest?
“Probably offense. I’m a three-year starter and last year, when we lost all the linemen, I did a lot of work with them,” Jones said when the two-way tackle was asked about which position he felt he made a greater impact.”
“Shawn has been a three-year starter on both sides of the ball for us,” Jervis said. “He is equally important on both offense and defense. He has a very high football IQ and is very athletic for his size. He protects our quarterback’s blind side on offense from his left tackle position and anchors our defensive line from his defensive tackle position.”
Most importantly, Jones is a leader, someone players seek when things start to unravel.
“Shawn has been an impact player for us ever since his sophomore season,” Jervis said. “He has a great personality and is a lot of fun to coach.
“He knows when it is OK to joke around, but also knows when it is time to get down to business and work hard.”
This week, that means continue to work hard, as unbeaten Old Forge awaits the once-beaten Lions. It’s not the right time to take a break.
“We’re fired up for that game. They’ve dominated us the past couple of years; when I was a sophomore, they really killed us,” Jones said. “Last year, beating them, now we want to turn the tables on them.”
The Lions go into the game fresh off a win over Carbondale, which had scored late in the first half and trailed by six at halftime.
“Against Carbondale, we kept the ball like 20 of the 24 minutes in the second half,” Jones said. “We ran down the clock, and that was a nice thing to do.”
Only a loss to unbeaten Dunmore prevented the Lions from being undefeated themselves, and they don’t want to fall short again.
“The season is going pretty well, actually,” Jones said. “We started off a little slow, we have some young guys; we lost a lot of seniors, a lot of good talent.”
“The first few weeks, we started off slow trying to get everything back together, but now we are picking it up and are looking good.”
Jervis feels the same way about Friday’s game at Old Forge, which starts a season-ending stretch of away games that includes trips to Susquehanna and Montrose that sandwich a game at Riverside in two weeks.
“We have some big games coming down the stretch, each with playoff implications,” Jervis said. “I am excited to see how we perform as a team.
“I feel that, although we have had some good games thus far, our best football is still ahead of us.”
That should mean a lot to the Lions, who would not mind hearing Jones and Uncle Mike continue their weekly discussion into, say, December.