New coach laying groundwork for Rebel football program

New coach laying groundwork for Rebel football program
New coach laying groundwork for Rebel football program

Shawn Jackson
Shawn Jackson is straddling the fine line between being pleased and being satisfied. That stance of Obion County Central’s new head football coach following the completion of his first spring practice at the school reflects what he says is the progress made since he took over the program in March and how much more improvement his troops need to make before being ready to play a game this fall. “Everything is and was positive,” claimed Jackson, who accepted the Rebel position after a messy hiring situation in the spring that saw Mark Walton first take the job, then resign just three days later. “The kids have worked hard, and we set the tone for the summer and the offseason with good tempo during the few days we had spring practice. “We’re still a long way from home, though, as far as getting everything done that we need to in order to compete in our region. We need to have a good summer in the weight room and be productive with all the other activities that are going to be required of the players between now and when we start preseason practice.” OC recently wrapped up a modified version of spring practice — one that saw the Rebels not use its full 10-day allotment of workouts due to a number of conflicts that included equipment issues, staff shortages and conflicts with other school activities. Jackson, nevertheless, said those half-dozen or so practices were beneficial. Though the squad did not participate in full-contact work, it established a practice routine that included constant movement and became accustomed to a tempo that will be instrumental to the new schemes that Jackson will install. “We kept our feet moving in every drill we did, and everything we worked on in the spring was some form of discipline,” the coach explained. “We have to be disciplined as a team to have the least number of penalties, to have the least number of turnovers. … we have to pay attention to detail in everything we do. We really stressed those little things. “As far as the contact goes, you can’t play the game in the hospital, and my philosophy is to rarely go in full pads. There will be some times when we do that. The biggest thing for us right now is to learn to play pitch and catch. With what we’re going to do offensively, we have to be able to throw and catch the ball and, defensively, we have to make interceptions when we have the opportunities to create those turnovers.” Jackson said he implemented only the base formations and plays of both his offensive and defensive schemes. He said the competition for starting jobs was wide-open and, with 66 players on the roster and another 64 incoming freshmen signed up to play when they arrive on campus in the fall, there should be some heated battles. “How hard these guys work in the summer is critical,” Jackson insisted. “From when I got here in March until now, our (weight room) maxes are up, our 40-times are down and the kids just look better. No one or two have stood out, but everybody has gotten better. “They’ll be expected to be here three days a week in June to continue working out and I expect 100 percent participation from everybody. If they miss a workout, they will make it up. Their dedication and commitment to the program will determine our success in the fall. “We’re a little behind right now, but we can catch up. I expect us to. And I’ll demand it.” The makeup of Jackson’s first OCCHS staff will include at least three newcomers and a pair of holdovers from last season with the possibility of others to be added. Chuck Foley will come from Deland, Fla., in June, and will coach inside receivers, while Nathan Morgan is already in Troy via Caruthersville (Mo.), and will be in charge of both offensive and defensive linemen as well as special teams. Jay Emmons, late of Lambuth University in Jackson, is another new hire and will serve as the Rebels’ defensive coordinator this coming fall. “Getting those guys here on an everyday basis is critical,” Jackson claimed. “With 66 kids, you’ve got to have a certain number of coaches to be productive in everything we’re going to do. We need those coaches to get the maximum out of every minute of practice time we have.” Jackson has retained both Brian Moffitt and Billy Windsor from last year’s staff, with Moffitt to be working with linebackers and Windsor linemen in addition to other duties. Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.

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