Canadian Public Schools promoted assistant Wes Jackson to head football coach.
The move came earlier this year after former head coach John Pinkston resigned to take a job in administration at Braggs, which Pinkston confirmed by text to the News-Capital. Pinkston went 13-9 in two seasons as the head coach of the Cougars, taking them to the first round of the playoffs twice.
Jackson has been an assistant at Canadian since 2015 and said he looks forward to getting started.
“It’s an easy transition for the kids,” Jackson said. “My playbook’s the same. They know me. I know them. They get to see me in a different realm, but I have a good rapport with the kids and me as the head coach is going to get some enthusiasm throughout the kids.”
Canadian athletic director Gary Hendrix confirmed Jackson’s hire to the News-Capital. Jackson and Hendrix both said the hire was made at the beginning of the calendar year and the latter said candidates were interviewed over the holiday break.
The athletic director said Canadian interviewed candidates who did and did not have prior head coaching experience. Hendrix cited Jackson’s familiarity with Canadian and the program as reasons for him being the chosen candidate.
“Any time there’s a change, it seems to bring out a little renewed enthusiasm from the school, from the players and maybe the patrons,” Hendrix said. “So I think that’s probably, maybe the most exciting thing for me is to see a renewed enthusiasm from everyone, and an excitement because we have several players back from a playoff team last year.”
Canadian is the first school Jackson's coached at that offered football. He didn’t play in high school, but learned the game under former head coach Matt Murdaugh.
Jackson worked with the special teams, wide receivers and cornerbacks his first two years. He was the offensive coordinator in Pinkston’s two years with the team and will continue offensive coordinator duties in 2019.
He is making the switch from head baseball coach to head football coach this season. Jackson said as of last week, he was no longer the head baseball coach after four seasons and going 9-16 in 2019.
His football philosophy is to win every down, every play, every snap. Jackson believes in winning everything and then having his players leave that behind them.
Canadian football began in 2009, and Jackson has seen the program soar to new heights since joining the coaching staff. The Cougars made their first-ever playoff appearance in 2016 after just missing out the year before. They achieved their best record ever in 2017 and hosted a playoff game for the first time in history that season. They returned to the playoffs in 2018, and now are seeking their first playoff win in history.
“I feel like we’re all coming together,” Jackson said. “We got a good staff coming. We’ve got good kids there. We have an opportunity to take our team in the playoffs farther than they ever have if everybody buys in and everybody wants to play 1-0.”