WEST CHESTER TWP. — Dylan Jones and Steven Faucheux will take fond memories of Lakota West High School to the next stop in their football careers.
The West seniors are clearly looking forward to the future — Jones is headed to the United States Naval Academy, while Faucheux will move on to Purdue University — but both said their time as Firebirds has been special, even if it didn’t include a lot of wins.
“I loved it,” Jones said Wednesday afternoon during an early National Signing Day ceremony in the West auxiliary gym. “We had many odds against us and a lot of people just decided to leave, transfer to other schools. But we had about 10 to 15 seniors in my class that really stuck with it and had a lot of heart and a lot of pride. It didn’t go the way we expected, but I respect every single one of those players for staying with us and just trusting the process.”
Faucheux described his Firebird time as “inspirational.”
“If you win every game, you never know how to lose. You never know how to take that,” he said. “Day in and day out, I’ve loved the guys, loved this school, the coaches. We had a lot of coaching changes while I was here, but we stuck through that, grinded through that, and it made for a great time. Despite the fact that I had a couple injuries, it was still so effective on me and made me into the young man I am today.”
Jones, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound wide receiver, and Faucheux, a 6-5, 275-pound defensive lineman, confirmed their verbal commitments at Wednesday’s signing event.
West, 8-22 over the last three seasons, was 4-6 this year under interim head coach Jeff Wadl. Colerain’s Tom Bolden was recently hired as the new head coach, and Wadl is staying to coach the offensive line.
“There’s pros and cons to being an interim,” Wadl said. “When you’re an interim, nobody has any expectations. I don’t think anybody thought we were going to win a game this year, and the kids managed to win four without a quarterback.
“I was really proud of their effort. Nobody wants to be 4-6, but at the same time, I think when you look at the overall response from the kids and how they felt about the program, they really stayed with it. We had little attrition if any over the course of the season. I think that’s a testament to them.”
Wadl said Jones and Faucheux were worthy of being in the Signing Day spotlight. They are both staying at West for their entire senior year before moving on.
Jones caught 14 passes for 185 yards this year. Faucheux missed the majority of the season after suffering a broken leg in Week 3 against Sycamore, though he did work his way back to play in the finale against Colerain.
“Dylan’s a great student, a responsible kid, a tremendous athlete … he’s not going to the Naval Academy by accident,” Wadl said. “Unfortunately we didn’t have much of a passing game this year, but he did a lot of other things on the field for us. We were really happy with everything he did as far as being a leader and the kind of person you want in your program.
“Steven didn’t get to play a lot, but what he did was provide a lot of leadership. He was working with the defensive linemen and helping the coaches when he wasn’t able to play. When he had something to say, the kids listened to him. And I thought he showed something by coming back for the last game. You come off a broken leg and you’re going to go play Colerain, that takes a little bit of courage.”
Jones got noticed by a Navy coach at a summer camp. Service academies aren’t for everybody, but he felt it was the best route for him.
“It’s going to better prepare me for my future,” Jones said. “I got to go down to one of their games just recently in November. I liked the atmosphere, the coaching staff, all the players in the locker room. It was a great experience, and I feel like I’m going to fit in really well there. I feel like the opportunities are endless.
“Career-wise, after I play and get my education, I’m going to go into the Navy and wherever it leads me. If I really find passion from what I’m doing there, I’m going to stay in the Navy. But if I feel like I need to go somewhere else and apply myself, then I’m going to do whatever I feel like I need to do.”
He said there are some military ties in his family. His grandfather served in the Air Force.
“Away from the school, I think it’s going to shape me into a better person,” Jones said. “I’m ready for it to better me mentally and physically, so any challenge that’s thrown at me, I’m going to accept it and I’m going to battle through it.”
In the classroom, he’s looking at biochemical engineering as a possible major.
“If it’s not that, then some type of engineering because I feel that’s where my strong suit is,” Jones said. “Mathematics, science, that’s what I like. Just hands-on type of things.”
On the field, he said he might end up as a defensive back for the Midshipmen.
“It’s a very happy day … happy, emotional, all those things,” Jones said. “Ever since I started playing football in the second grade, playing at the next level has been one of my biggest dreams, if not the biggest dream. So now that I’m actually able to say that I’m going to be playing football at the next level, it’s surreal to think of. But all the hard work, all the people that pushed me, it makes sense.”
Faucheux is expected to be a defensive end or tackle for coach Jeff Brohm at Purdue. He’s leaning toward a finance major because it crosses into many different career possibilities.
He committed to the Boilermakers in the summer and said his connection to the program has strengthened since then.
“There’s a lot of factors that came into that decision,” Faucheux said. “Mainly it was the top-notch academics combined with a program that’s on the uprise. Coach Brohm has showed through the past couple years that he’s taking the program to a great place. He’s gotten them to where they are now in a bowl game, and I believe that it’s just going to continue to take off with the class coming in.”
Faucheux has made a full recovery from his leg injury. He said Brohm has no problem with him not enrolling early.
“Coach Brohm said that I’m a guy that can come in and be effective early on,” Faucheux said. “He told me not to worry about necessarily coming in early. I figured I’d wait until the end of the year and enjoy being a high schooler while I can because come summer, I’m a freshman again.”
Faucheux said it was difficult to be sidelined this season, but he did really enjoy working with his teammates in what was essentially a coaching capacity. He was happy, though, that he got one last chance to play in Week 10.
“I was limited in my playing time, but I was able to make it out,” Faucheux said. “And that’s a great feeling.”
Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.