Hopes to restore Red Devils program to prominence
Mark Pinson | Highlands TodayAVON PARK - Avon Park Principal Tealy Williams didn't have to look very far for his new football coach.
Published: January 23, 2013
Published: January 23, 2013
The Red Devils named Wade Jackson as head football coach on Tuesday. Jackson is taking over for Lee Brown who resigned two weeks ago.
"Wade has a passion for the job and a tremendous love for the school," said Williams. "He's already connected to our kids and is the right fit for us.
"I wanted to make this a family approach and all of us will work together to benefit our school and community."
Jackson, who has been teaching at Avon Park since 1999, was an assistant coach on the football team from 1994 to 2011. This was his third attempt at being the Red Devils head football coach.
"This is a great day and this is something I've wanted for a long time," Jackson said. "I'm humble and elated at the same time.
"This school has been a part of my life for almost 20 years and we just need to get the kids some confidence and get them headed in the right direction."
The Class 4A Red Devils have struggled in recent years, including last year's disappointing 1-9 record.
Avon Park lost to county and district rival Lake Placid by a score of 33-6 during the season, and the Red Devils lost to archrival Sebring by a score of 36-0 to end the season.
"We're going to have coaches who are positive and we're going to build those kids up," Jackson said. "We want good character kids who are successful in the classroom, are hard-nosed and want to get after it on Friday night's.
"If we show the kids we care about them and build relationships with them the rest of it will take care of itself."
The 40-year-old Jackson is in the process of putting together his coaching staff.
"I've made some contacts and I hope to finalize my staff in the next couple of weeks," the Red Devil coach said. "We're going to have some guys on staff that are on campus and already have relationships with the kids."
Jackson will be the third Avon Park football coach in the last six years and is looking to bring some stability and pride back to the storied program.
"The kids know us and what we expect," he said. "They know our goal is for the program to be successful and we want to do it the right way.
"When you're an educator, you're invested in these kids' lives and they are important to us."
Spring football practice begins in May and Jackson has an offseason plan for his players.
"We've got the players lifting weights and running track because we need to get stronger and faster," Jackson said. "Our other sports teams have done pretty well and nothing would please me more than to start our school year off right with a good football team.
"That would kind of set the tone for the rest of the year and that's what we're looking forward to doing."
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