Rico Jackson officially began Wednesday (March 1) the task of rebuilding the Escambia County High School football program.
Jackson, who guided Aliceville High to the Class 2A state title game last season, was hired last week to replace Royce Young, whose teams posted a 4-26 mark over the three seasons Young was at the ECHS helm.
The new coach admitted that the job of turning around a Blue Devils program that hasn’t seen a high degree of success in more than three decades wouldn’t be easy. But he feels that with time, through hard work and dedication on the part of coaches, players, school administrators and the community, ECHS football could be restored to a respectable level.
“It’s a process,” he said. “It’s not going to be an overnight success story. I would hope it would be, but I know it’s a process that starts in the weight room. We’ll be coaching the kids, not just football, but coaching them mentally as well. We’ll be getting them into the classroom, explaining how to play game, teaching them character education, that type of thing. All of that goes into building a successful program.”
Jackson agreed that the group of scrappy young players who made up the bulk of last year’s team would provide a solid foundation for the future.
“I’m excited about talking with Coach Young, watching more film and meeting the kids we’ve got coming back,” he said. “I’m ready to get over to the middle school and see what eighth-graders we’ve got coming over. I don’t mind playing young kids, as long as they play their tails off. I think we’ve got a good nucleus of young kids that played; we’ll see how it fits into what we want to do.”
Jackson promised to do everything within his power to restore respectability to the school’s football program.
“I’m ready to get to work,” he said. “We’re going to do our best; that’s all we can do. Once we’ve done that, we want to sit back and watch the growth of our team. I’m excited to be here, and I really believe Escambia can win.”
Note: Jackson addressed several other topics during the interview, including community support, support of education administrators, his decision to leave Aliceville and his coaching philosophy. Read more about the new coach in next week’s Atmore News.