New Central coach ignores recent saga
By: By MIKE HUTCHENS, Messenger Sports Editor
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
The recent soap opera that saw Obion Central hire a head football coach — only to lose him three days later — didn’t scare away Shawn Jackson.
And he insists Rebel supporters won’t have to “tune in tomorrow” to see if he’s still here after the weekend.
Jackson has accepted the challenge of providing stability and respectability to an OC program largely void of both with his hiring as the new Central skipper this morning.
“I’m coming to change the culture of the program, and you can’t do that overnight,” Jackson told The Messenger Thursday evening. “I really don’t care what’s happened here before now. When it’s all said and done, I want them to say about me that I won more games than any coach they’ve ever had.”
The 37-year-old coach comes to Troy from Lindenwood (Mo.) University, where he served one season as that college’s offensive coordinator and sports promotion coordinator. He fills a vacancy left by an ugly saga when Mark Walton first accepted on a Friday, then resigned the OCCHS post the following Monday, citing public unrest over his hiring instead of one of two local candidates.
Not counting the Walton fiasco, there have been four coaches in seven seasons with the Rebel program, which has won but one playoff game and had nine winning seasons in its 47 years of existence.
“I don’t feel that there’s a black cloud over the situation,” Jackson claimed. “One of the first things I’ll do, though, is address the perception of Obion County football. Other than that first time, I won’t talk a lot about the past.
“I operate under the philosophy of ‘No excuses.’ We’re going to look the same, dress the same, act the same. Having a successful program is about structure. Our kids have to believe they’re good enough, and we’ll polish up their self-esteem.”
Obion County Director of Athletics Robert Powell said his extensive search turned up a quality coach capable of doing good things.
“He was the best candidate, all things considered,” Powell claimed. “His work ethic, his system and that he is committed to the new vision and new ideas of the school system and administration made him the man we wanted.”
Though adamant that he’s coming for the long haul, Jackson’s resumé is sure to cause anxiety among the many Obion Central faithful who were outspoken that one of its own get the position. The new Rebel coach has had six different jobs in seven seasons.
He insists the main reason for some of that is that he followed head coach David Gilmore as an aide to a couple of his posts.
Prior to this past season at Lindenwood, Jackson was the director of football recruiting at the University of Missouri — but for just one year.
His only season as a head coach was 2005, when he piloted Hayti (Mo.) to a 7-3 record and conference championship. He was named the SEMO South Coach of the Year that year, with his team ranking among the Top 10 state-wide in all offensive categories.
Jackson served as an offensive coordinator for three schools over four seasons on the prep level prior to his second stint at Hayti. He was the play-caller at Blytheville (Ark.) High in ’04, helping that program to an 8-3 finish, a state playoff berth and a Top 10 state ranking after it had dropped 18 straight before his arrival.
The year before, he was the assistant head coach and in charge of the offense at Caruthersville (Mo.), where the school went 11-2 and made it to the state semifinals while being ranked No. 3. In both the ’01 and ’02 campaigns, he spent his first tenure at Hayti as offensive coordinator, the program going 11-1 and making the Missouri semis one year, and 11-2 and qualifying for the state finals in the other.
Jackson is credited by some in the Missouri prep ranks with being an innovator of the spread offense at that level. He shunned that notion but said his offensive philosophy centered around the spread-set with nearly equal running and passing.
He has been 0.the trigger man of record-setting offenses at his every stop in both the high school and college game. Lindenwood ranked eighth nationally in scoring last season, while his prep clubs at Hayti and Caruthersville in Missouri and Blytheville in Arkansas were all listed among the Top 10 in the state in several categories.
“I’m coming to Obion County because I met some people like Mr. Powell and Mrs. (Linda) Short who I can tell have passion for the kids and want a football program at Obion Central,” Jackson added. “My wife and I will put our oldest son (8-year-old Cole) in school there, and we’ll bring our other son (20-month-old Kellen) and make our home there.
“As long as we get the kind of support I’ve seen in my interviews and conversation with people, I want to stay and finish what we’re going to start.”
Powell said Jackson will likely be allowed to hire two or three new assistants, and the new Rebel skipper said he’d already had preliminary conversations with potential candidates on both the high school and college levels.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 3.7.08
Obion County Central High School
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