The 49ers High School Player of the Week Award for week 6 goes to Jai Austin of Mountain View High School in Mountain View, CA.
As the portable lights were rolled in Friday night, so came all the thrill and excitement of a true Friday Night Lights episode. Mountain View High School was a scene straight out of a movie this past Friday when the Mountain View Spartans took on the Hillsdale Fighting Knights.
With no lights at the Mountain View football field, the Spartans are not able to host many night games. Once a year the program brings in portable lights in order to host a Friday night game. Naturally, these night games are something the team very much looks forward too. In fact, there might be something to those night games under the portable lights. The Spartans have won all four of their night games when the lights are shinning and even more miraculous, two of those four games have gone to double overtime. Friday's double overtime dog-fight against Hillsdale kept the tradition alive and well.
After scoring late in the fourth quarter to tie the game and send the game into the first overtime, the Spartans had the first chance to get on the board and ultimately win after recovering a Hillsdale fumble and attempting a field-goal. Missing the field goal, neither team managed to score in the first OT. Mountain View punched it in first during the second OT, and Hillsdale followed suit with a touchdown of their own. However, with a gutsy call, Hillsdale went for the win and opted to go for the 2-point conversion. In true 'Friday Night Lights' dramatic fashion, the Mountain View defense held them, winning the game 21-20.
The Friday Night Lights' magic is real for the Spartans, and never seems to disappoint the Mountain View community.
"The place goes crazy, said Mountain View Head Coach Shelley Smith. "Our school doesn't get the chance to really experience it much, the whole 'Friday night under the lights' kind of thing… storming the field, the whole atmosphere. It was a great win for us," continued Coach.
A major contributor in what he would insist was a true team win, was senior Jai Austin. Austin is a true team leader for the Spartans and it is tough, dog-fight wins that have your share of highs-and-lows like this, when your resiliency and ability to battle and overcome adversity is tested, that a leader of his stature makes all the difference. The team leans on Austin and his ability to reach and lead his teammates during critical moments. This is something that all successful teams want to have in moments like this.
"Jai has been the guy for us all year. He is so stable and consistent, and just a steady, even-keeled kid. He does a fantastic job of keeping his composure. He's a quiet leader and the kids so naturally look up to him and look to him for that reassurance," praised his head coach.
Mountain View finds a way to get Austin into the game as much as they possibly can. He contributes in the rushing game, passing game, is a ball-hawking free safety on the other side of the ball, and contributes on special teams as well. The more he is in the huddle, the better.
Austin has been a two-way starter for the Spartans the last two years and has contributed to the varsity squad since his sophomore season. He was an all-league player for the team last season, and is currently the team's leading rusher this season.
For all the accolades Jai Austin the football player receives, more can be said about Jai Austin the person. Austin's impact on the people around him is truly remarkable. Austin devotes a large majority of his time to helping others and supporting those in need. He is a habitual volunteer at local youth summer camps. He is also heavily involved with the Bill Wilson Center, whose facilities and programs provide housing, education, counseling and advocacy for children and young adults in Santa Clara County. On his own accord, Austin commits countless hours working with children and young adults there. He is a team chat counselor for the center. This is something he has done for years now and something genunily close to his heart.
"He just wants to give back," said Coach Smith. "He wants to help kids that have difficulty coping with adversity, and he has done an absolutely fantastic job with that. He has one of the biggest hearts I've ever seen. As great as he is at football, outside of football is where he truly stands out," said Smith.
As the home school of the 49ers High School Player of the Week, Mountain View High School will receive a $500 grant for their football program from the 49ers Foundation. As part of this award, Jai will receive two tickets to a 49ers home game where he will be recognized on the field. At the end of the season, Jai will be invited to the SAP Performance Facility to watch a closed practice where 49ers head coach, Chip Kelly, will officially present him with his award.
Congratulations Jai, and keep up the phenomenal work!