Driggers resigns as OC head coach, leaving Rebels in search-mode again
By: Mike Hutchens Messenger Sports Writer
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
The overused “Help Wanted” sign is out again for the Obion Central football program.
For the fourth time in the last seven years, OCCHS is looking for a new man to direct its gridiron fortunes after Jason Driggers resigned the Rebel post this morning following just one season at both Troy and as a head coach.
Driggers is returning to his previous job at Jackson South Side, where he’ll serve as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach to new Hawk skipper Carey Craig. Craig, himself a former JSS aide, was named the new Hawk boss in December — replacing 23-year veteran Jerry Hayes — after six years as the head coach at Humboldt.
Driggers came to Obion Central last spring after spending the five previous seasons at South Side, the last two as defensive coordinator and special teams coach. He told his assistant coaches of his intentions this morning and was to deliver a resignation letter to Obion County Director of Schools David Huss before then telling his players.
“It took an opportunity at a special place for me to want to leave Obion Central, and South Side is that place,” Driggers told The Messenger Wednesday night. “My wife and I have roots in Jackson and we still have a lot of ties there. I just think South Side is a place where I can continue to grow as a coach and I look forward to working with and around so many familiar people and also with and under Coach Craig.”
Driggers’ brief Obion Central stint and first venture into the head coaching world began last March when he — at 30 — became the second-youngest head coach in the program’s history.
His only Rebel campaign was unfortunately dubious, though, in that it marked just the third time in Central’s 47-year history that the football team went 0-10.
Plagued by an inexperienced roster and haunted by a murderous schedule that included eight teams with eventual winning records, OC suffered through a campaign that often saw its troops severely overmatched while suffering three of the program’s worst-ever losses.
“Obviously our record wasn’t what I’d like for it to have been, but I think the kids learned some things that didn’t show up on the scoreboard,” Driggers said. “I know they never quit and they faced adversity on a regular basis and dealt with it as well as anyone could’ve hoped. Hopefully, they gained some life lessons from that and it will carry over to both next season and into adulthood.”
Driggers’ rocky times began long before the season opened, however, when his newly-hired offensive coordinator, Eric Knott, left to take the head coaching job at Dresden just before preseason practice began in July. He also lost one of his better players when veteran quarterback Logan Parker, a starter for parts of three seasons, transferred to Dyersburg to play for former Central coach Darren Bowling after Parker’s father Nick got a guidance counselor job at DHS.
“Those were some things that we didn’t see coming and they certainly didn’t make things any easier,” Driggers admitted. “The kids were very resilient through those times, though.”
Driggers’ decision to leave OCCHS continues a recent revolving door trend of instability within the county’s coaching ranks and follows a four-year stint by Darren Bowling and, before that, two years at the Rebel helm by Chris Hill.
The latest turnover should not be a negative reflection on the current Obion County School System administration, according to Driggers.
“This decision, in no way, is about anything bad at Obion Central,” the now ex-Rebel coach claimed. “I couldn’t have asked for better people to work with or for more community support. The people were very good to me and gave me pretty much everything I asked for.
“This was just about a great opportunity to return to somewhere I call home.”
Craig, who was essentially replaced by Driggers on the South Side staff when the former took the Humboldt job, said he was eager for Driggers to join the Hawks’ new collection of coaches.
“One of the first things you do when you get a new job is to try and surround yourself with the best people,” the new JSS skipper said in a telephone conversation Wednesday. “Anytime as a head coach that you can get an assistant who also has head coaching experience, it’s a huge plus.
“Jason will be my righthand man. He knows most all the kids in the program, and they’ll be excited about him being back. He had a great relationship at South Side as both a coach and a teacher, and his decision to come back is certainly South Side’s gain.”
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 1.10.08