Cranbrook Kingswood announced its head football coach Ben Jones died after a car accident.
Jones took over the Cranes football program in 2019 after serving as an assistant coach, working primarily with the offensive and defensive lines.
Cranbrook Kingswood athletic director Stephen Graf said he was notified of the death Thursday morning and spent the day reaching out to the coaching staff and players, notifying them of what he called an “unimaginable loss.”
“Here’s a guy that was the epitome of a high school football coach,” Graf said. “He loved the game, he loved the kids, he loved the coaches. He embodied all that is a leader. Although he was a young guy in this business, he had an old-school mentality, in a good way. He was able to connect with the kids, and the kids just loved him.
“The boys are just devastated right now.”
Cranbrook Schools released a statement after Jones’ passing:
“The Cranbrook Schools community is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of head football coach Ben Jones. Ben was highly respected and a trusted mentor to many. His sudden loss is tragic and difficult for the entire school community, but particularly so for the young men on his team and his colleagues. Cranbrook extends its deepest condolences to Ben’s family and friends, along with the assurance that he will be deeply missed here both on and off the field.”
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Graf said Jones was able to bring, as a coach, a sense of “tough love,” bringing out the best in his players both on and off the field by pushing them out of their comfort zone.
“He cared about them and they knew it. It wasn’t an act,” Graf said. “Some coaches you see out there and all they care about is winning. Ben was about each and every kid: their life, what they were experiencing, their home life, their school work, the recruiting process – Ben was very involved in that process for some of our seniors, and made a huge difference there – to the offseason.”
In 2019, his first season as the head coach, Cranbrook Kingswood posted a record of 5-4, ending its season with a first-round playoff loss to Harper Woods.
Jones played football at Hillsdale College. He worked as an investment advisor at Schwartz & Co.
Graf said Cranbrook Kingswood will plan for a memorial for an undetermined later date, based on guidance out of respect for the Jones family and the coronavirus.