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July 26, 2012It didn't seem very fair, not to Jac Bailey nor opposing defenses.
First for the opposing defenses. It wasn't fair what the sophomore was doing to them, running through them like a hot knife does a soft stick of butter, climaxing with an eight-touchdown performance in a single game.
Now for Bailey. It didn't seem fair the rising McCool Junction star's reward for all those yards and touchdown was major hip surgery. That's right, Bailey was busting up defenses with his hip out of whack.
After surgery repaired his hip and cartilage surrounding the socket, Bailey underwent eight months of rehab but was ready for the start of the 2011. And how. On Opening Night, one marred by storms which led the game to not be finished until after midnight, Bailey took the first hand-off of the new year, broke six or seven tackles and went the length of the field for a touchdown.
He was fine.
"The surgery was frustrating but I knew it had to be done and I was just happy to get back out there and play," says Bailey, a 6-foot-tall, 210-pound senior. "I knew we were going to have a great season and I wanted to be part of it."
Bailey was right about his forecast, as the Mustangs won seven of eight in the regular season, winning the district title and making the playoffs for just the second time since 1997. In the process Bailey was fantastic, rushing for 1,352 yards and 28 touchdowns, his 193.1 yards per game tops in Class D-1. He also started at linebacker, did the team's kicking and punting (his 39.0 average second-best in D-1) and handled both punt and kick returns. He was an all-stater in about every way you can be an all-stater...and he did it playing the final three games of the season with a broken wrist.
The winning wasn't a shock to Bailey or his teammates, as collectively they'd played a lot of winning football on their way up through the ranks, including an unbeaten eighth-grade season. "It's just junior high but you can tell that we had something special and that we could keep it up all the way through high school," remembers Bailey.
The shortest in his class as a fourth-grader and the tallest as a sixth-grader, Bailey is now somewhere in between and has added 30 pounds of muscle since his sophomore season. A running back by nature, last season he also spent considerable time at quarterback in the McCool Junction Wildcat set and, of course, thrived. In addition to running wild he also completed half of his passes, good for 600 yards and five more touchdowns.
McCool Junction co-head coach Jarrod Weiss says the reasoning for playing Bailey in the Wildcat is pretty simple.
"He's really good at it," laughs Weiss, who co-head coaches with Jerod Niederklein. "Jac is not only a dominant athlete, he's very smart, very competitive and very driven. He has the skill to be outstanding in any role we ask him to play, and we ask a lot of him."
Part of Bailey's preparation for the 2012 season, his last in high school, called for him to make a change in spring schedule. He and five other teammates skipped track - "I hated to do that but it shows commitment to what we want to get done in football" - in order to get in an extra hour of weight lifting. While school was in session he was putting in an extra hour of cardio work and carried that schedule through the summer.
"I would keep losing weight in track and by skipping it I added 20 pounds since football season. That is going to make me stronger for football, so it was worth the trade-off," he says.
During the summer he traveled to camps with his team, some camps on his own and also worked with his father to rebuild a 1970 Ford Mustang Fastback. He currently drives a 2001 Mustang he and his father rebuilt. Bailey has a 3.8 GPA, plays saxophone in the school band and has also taught himself to play the guitar and piano. He's also a member of the McCool student council and FFA and Fellowship of Christian Athlete chapters.
"I want to play Division I college football," says Bailey. "That's been my goal and that's what I am training for." He plans to study either physical therapy or marine biology.
After helping his high school team rise from 1-7 as freshmen to last year's 7-2 mark last season, Bailey wants to see the Mustangs take things to a whole new level in 2012.
"I have some great teammates and we are very close, all of us with high expectations for ourselves this football season. We want to do more than make the playoffs, we want to win some playoff games."