Vandegrift head coach Drew Sanders considers it a good thing that Spencer Jones hasn't changed much in his four years on the varsity squad.
Now entering his second year as captain of the defense, the senior linebacker is about to begin his final year with the Vipers and boasts a career that started as a late call-up to the top squad for a playoff run as a freshman.
"When he talks, the team listens," Sanders said. "Spencer has always been a good leader and he's continuing to learn how to lead. We always thought he was a special dude and he's proved that. He's been a consistent payer the last three years and I'm proud of him."
Jones was one of a couple of guys moved to the varsity squad in 2015, and he was a big blocker in the Vipers' run to the state quarterfinals. His sophomore season, he split the season between linebacker and fullback.
Last year, he picked up First-Team All-District and Second-Team All-State honors and finished second on the team with 136 tackles - averaging more than 11 per game - and was third on the team with five sacks.
He'll play college football at Army next season.
"I don't think anything will change this year," Jones said. "It's good to be able to keep being a leader (my whole career), even if it was a little different as a freshman and sophomore. If people know that you're working hard and you're encouraging, they're not going to get mad at you."
Elsewhere on the Vandegrift defense, Drew Nelson will move to free safety and most of the defensive line is coming back from a unit that gave up just 18.8 points per game during district play last season.
Vandegrift is moving to a new district willed with teams that shine at moving the ball on the ground and utilizing the play-action pass.
"It's not the same as paying teams like Westlake and Lake Travis," Sanders said. "We've always done a good job of stopping the run and I like how we stack up against them."
Five teams in the new district made the playoffs last year and Vandegrift starts the district slate against the top two from a year ago, hosting Cedar Ridge on Sept. 14 and traveling to Pflugerville to play Hendrickson on Sept. 21.
Vandegrift has made the playoffs five years in a row, so the bar has long been set. From there it's about practicing on Thanksgiving and into December.
"I want us to be an elite defense like we've been the past couple years," Jones said. "Personally, I want to captain the defense the best I can. We play hard and physical. Other teams might have big lineman, but we'll still hit them in the mouth."