D’Jimon Jones, a multitalented quarterback/defensive back and high jumper from Federal Way High School, has overcome illness and injury to earn a scholarship to Washington State.

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FEDERAL WAY — D’Jimon Jones has always been a play-hard-or-go-home kind of athlete.

In part because he’s ultracompetitive at whatever he does — from sports to video games.

But also because he’s never quite sure if he might have to go home for good, due to an illness or injury.

Jones has been forced off the football field for both reasons over the past two seasons, and defied odds by fighting his way back each time.

After coming down with mononucleosis just before the playoffs last year, and being told he would be out the rest of the way, Jones returned at quarterback to help lead Federal Way to the Class 4A state high-school football quarterfinals.

And he was back in the lineup last Friday after breaking a bone in his right ankle in the second game of the season.

“All these things that have happened have taught me to go hard every time I step on the field, because it could be my last time,” Jones said.

That sense of urgency will be heightened Friday as the Eagles (2-6) face Tahoma (6-2) of Maple Valley for the SPSL North’s fifth and final berth into the playoffs.

“We either win this game, or we play in some (week 10) game that doesn’t matter,” Jones said.

And winning matters a lot to this multitalented athlete, who helped the Eagles win the 4A state basketball championship last season and placed second at state in the high jump in the spring.

“I don’t like to lose,” said Jones, who was named after actor Djimon Hounsou (JY-mon, rhymes with diamond). “I like to be the best. I like to compete in anything, anything they put in front of me. If someone’s going against me, I’m trying to win. It can be video games with my little brother or other brother, I just always want to win. And if I don’t, I’m mad, and I’m like, ‘Let’s play again,’ ’cause I’m going to win.”

He gets much of that, and his athleticism, from father Roosevelt Jones, who was a three-sport standout at Rainier Beach in the mid-1980s and won a 3A state track title in the 400 meters as a senior in 1986.

“He takes a lot after me,” the elder Jones said, who notes he’s faster than his son, but admits D’Jimon can out-jump him (D’Jimon cleared 6 feet 9 the first time he tried the high jump).

Federal Way football coach John Meagher said Jones is one of the best pure athletes he has seen over the past 20 years, and that his competitive nature is a bonus.

“When it comes to game time, he does everything that’s in his power to help the team win, whatever sport he’s in,” Meagher said. “You’ve got to like that in a kid, especially in your quarterback, because he’s going to try to do what it takes.”

Tahoma coach Tony Davis calls Jones “an incredibly talented athlete” who makes things happen at quarterback and also can be a shutdown cornerback. That’s the position he likely will play at Washington State and one he will return to this week after playing only on offense in last week’s 16-6 loss to rival Beamer.

Jones admitted he was rusty in that game. He entered in the second quarter, completed just 3 of 7 passes for 18 yards, wound up with minus-13 yards rushing and lost a fumble that led to a touchdown. The Titans secured a playoff spot with their first-ever win over Federal Way.

“That wasn’t me,” said Jones, who threw for 239 yards and three TDs in the Eagles’ season opener against Union of Vancouver, and also ran for a score.

He expects to be back to form — and his winning ways — this week.