For the Jackson High School football program,
it’s a dawning of a new era in Alumni Stadium. First-year head coach Andy Hall takes over the Ironmen reigns from four-year mentor Shane
JACKSON — For the Jackson High School football program,
it’s a dawning of a new era in Alumni Stadium.
Still, despite new philosophies and under the direction of a
new head coach, one thing remains the same:
“Keep the rich tradition and build on that tradition.”
That is what first-year head coach Andy Hall hopes to
accomplish, as he takes over the Ironmen reigns from four-year mentor Shane
Wolford went 24-17 in his tenure, including a Division III,
Region 12 playoff appearance three years ago.
But Jackson, amid the high degree of strength of the
Southeastern Ohio Athletic League, has dipped in overall record from 9-3 in
2003 and 2004 to just 5-5 last season.
Regardless, the community of Jackson expects victories.
“Winning games is what is expected here in Jackson. That’s
what we want to continue to do,” said Hall in his media day interview with The
Jackson County Times-Journal. “We never want to look at it as rebuilding. We
truly want to reload. Every year, we are expected to win. I’d rather be in that
situation than have a school system or community that says it’s okay to be .500
or have a losing season. That’s not what it’s going to be here.”
What it will be is a transition.
And so far, Hall said, “the transition has been great.”
“It has been very smooth and made very easy on me,” said the
new coach. “I think the assistant coaches have a lot to do with that, and even
(former Jackson head football coach) Coach (Shane) Wolford did. I met Coach
Wolford the day after I got hired and he’s been very helpful about letting me
know people in the community and the kids. Some of the kids that came out this
year didn’t come out because of the new staff. Coach Wolford was already
working on these guys about coming back out this year.”
Hall is just the fifth Jackson coach in the past two
decades, but the first with offensive and defensive philosophies noticeably
distinct from his predecessors.
The four Ironmen bosses before him — Larry Blackstone, Jim
Reynolds, Randy Layton and Wolford — favored run-oriented offenses with
physical linemen and the 4-4 defense.
“Jackson has always been notorious for being very physical,
and we want to maintain that,” said Hall. “Even though we’re changing schemes,
we still want to be more physical than the other team.”
Hall, who he and his father Larry Hall came to Jackson after
various coaching stops in primarily Scioto County, favor more passing with a
quick, aggressive and attacking defense.
So far, he said, “the kids have adapted to this change very
“They have accepted us with open arms. Their acceptance to
the transition has made this thing a really smooth one up until this point. And
it’s really up to them. They are the ones that make the plays. We told them
early on what we wanted to try and do (change offensive and defensive
philosophies), but we can’t do that unless they make the plays,” said Hall.
“It’s nice to be able to throw the ball, but if you can’t make plays in the
passing game, then you’re not going to be able to do that. They understand that
they are battling for new positions everywhere on the field. They knew it was
going to be new. And it’s a good time for being new. There are not too many
returning starters, and really, the returning starters we have now are in new
positions. This was probably a good year to make a transition on the offensive
and defensive sides of the ball.”
The Ironmen graduated 15 seniors, most of which were at
least two-year starters.
In addition, junior Ryan Speakman — who was the only
returning starter along the offensive line — is academically ineligible.
Graduated are Cody Huff, Ryan Hughes, Lukas Lindamood, Josh
Brown, Tyler Boggs, Brandon Trace, Kevin Speakman, Tyler Glassburn, Jon Waugh
and Adam Jones.
The running back Huff and lineman Hughes honed first-team
all-SEOAL honors and first-team Division II all-Southeast District accolades.
Eleven letterwinners and only eight starters return this
season, and many of the Ironmen lack significant varsity experience entering
Although, several of those Ironmen did see some snaps last
The top returnees include three-year starter and two-time
leading tackler Ryan Klingaman, who is being moved from defensive end to middle
Klingaman is a two-time Honorable Mention all-district
He is joined on the inside by fellow senior Eric Landrum.
“Because Ryan has made so many plays off the edge, we’re
looking at him at possibly playing inside. If not, we know he can play
outside,” said Hall. “He and Eric, those two inside guys dictate what we can do
Hall had a two-deep depth chart prepared for both offense
and defense, and several of the Ironmen appear to be playing both ways.
Defensively, O.J. Barr is the nose guard, Paul Canter, Jimmy
Brushart, Frankie Mapes and Bubba Landrum will rotate at tackle, and Nathaniel
Haller, Paul Simon, Coleman Kearns and Travis Dempsey are the ends.
The senior Haller moves from linebacker to one defensive
end, with Canter and Mapes the likely tackles.
Senior Derrick Meredith returns at strong safety, with Drew
Ervin and Aaron Costilow at free safety and Kip Winchester, Ryan Mullins, Tyler
Williams and Zach Miller among the corners.
Hall discussed the change from a 4-4 to a 50 front and a 5-2
“With a 50 front, our goal is to bring more pressure from
different angles,” he said. “We’ll be a 5-2 base, but we won’t sit in base. My
father (Larry Hall) has been coaching defense for 40 years now, and he’s always
been notorious for bringing a lot of pressure. We’re going to play a lot of the
4-6 ‘Bear’ defense, especially against spread teams. That gives offenses a
whole different look with all of the stunts and trying to put more quick guys
on defense. A lot of these guys are playing brand new positions, and the key is
going to be how quickly they can mold to those. We’ve always wanted to be very
aggressive on defense, but we want to play faster and be attacking. There’s no
reading anymore. When the ball is snapped, we’re gone. That is going to take a
little bit of time for them to adapt to.”
Indeed, new Ironmen are playing new positions facing
familiar foes with speed.
“All of these teams all have speed. I think now defensively,
you have to be able to defend the field,” said Hall. “You’re not defending
hashmark to hashmark, or even (painted field) numbers to numbers. You’re going
sideline to sideline. We’ve got to get guys to understand that when that ball
is snapped, that motor has to run from sideline to sideline. There’s no reason
not to go 100 miles per hour on every snap on defense. And because we feel like
we do have some depth, if a kid is tired or not playing well, we’re taking him
The Ironmen are two or three deep at every position.
“We have good depth and we’re going to play a lot of guys
this year,” said Hall. “We may play 17 or 18 guys on both sides of the ball. It
won’t be 11 on 11. It’s going to be a lot of multiple stuff where we try to get
as many guys in the game as possible. That way, we keep things fresh. Guys are
going to be fighting for spots every game. We want them to understand that, and
that way, we’re getting better each and every week. I told these guys the other
day that this is symbolic of what a real team is. There’s not one kid on this
football team that we can’t win without. If a kid gets hurt, or if we have to
discipline a kid and he can’t play, our gameplan doesn’t change. I think that’s
a good thing, because now teams can’t focus on one guy. We don’t panic if we
lose one kid, but it also puts pressure on everyone that all of us are expected
to make plays.”
Offensively, Klingaman takes over for the graduated
Glassburn at center, while Brushart, Tyler Gillum and Brian Jarvis are the
Jarvis, a standout baseball player for the Ironmen, last
played football in junior high.
Bubba Landrum is the right tackle with Kearns and Mapes
manning the other tackle spot.
Haller moves to tight end from fullback and will be backed
up by Dillon Bentley and Tyler Jeffers.
Hall said to expect some two tight-end sets at times, but
the Ironmen are expected to pass block more this year.
“We’re going to ask more out of our linemen. We have no one
on the offensive line back which started last year, and they are not used to
pass blocking that much,” he said. “But this year, they’re expected to be
better athletes and be moving their feet. There are a lot of one-on-one type
blocks, especially in the passing game.”
A new corps of receivers includes Winchester, Mullins,
Costilow, Britton Johnson and Ty McNelly.
McNelly returns to Jackson after a year at archrival
Junior Klay Arthur returns at fullback along with Eric
Landrum, while Meredith and Ervin will split time at tailback.
Landrum is also a quarterback, and will play under center
along with Gallipolis transfer Kruize Wandling.
Wandling has the greater pure passing background.
Landrum saw some snaps last season, but Hall said to look
for him to play “more multiple.”
“Eric is our X-factor. I think he can do a lot of things for
us this year,” said Hall. “He can play quarterback, fullback, wingback, wide
receiver. Plus, he’s a great leader. He is one of our senior captains. He
commands respect because he works hard, he is here everyday when he is supposed
to be. The kids follow him. Where-ever I put him, he’s going to be able to
But Hall expects the Ironmen offense to feature multiple
“It’s going to be different guys every night. We may have
four games and have four different leading rushers. We may throw for 200 yards
one night and 50 the next. We’ve probably got 10 guys that can do something
with the football. The days of one guy carrying the ball 30 times are gone,” he
said. “We’re going to have multiple running backs carrying the ball 10 to 12
times a game. Receivers will have multiple chances to catch the ball. We want
to throw the ball between 15 or 20 times. And each week, you won’t see the
exact same offense. One week we may throw the ball 20 or 25 times, and the next
week we may throw eight or 10 times because we feel like we can do some things
in the running game. We’re just going to do what we have to do to win games.
The goal is to move the chains and get in the end zone on offense, regardless
of how we do that.”
Hall added that “on both sides of the ball, the line of
scrimmage is crucial for us.”
“It’s a focal point. We’re grading very closely at who can
make plays, but once again, a lot of guys can play those positions. We don’t
have a dominant guard or tackle or center, but I think everybody can contribute
on Friday night,” he said. “That could be a good thing when it comes to depth,
or it could be a bad thing if no one steps and plays well.”
And, the Ironmen must play well in order to tame its brutal
Hall views Logan as the preseason favorite, but thinks the
Chieftains can be challenged by the remaining seven squads.
“With Logan’s success the last five years, they have to be
the favorite going in. You’re the champion until someone knocks you off. But
after that, I think the league is going to be very balanced. I think a lot of
teams lost key players, but across the board, there’s no weak teams,” said
Hall. “When you’re in league play, there’s not a week off. When you think of
this league, you think speed. The league itself can flat out run and it’s very
athletic. We have to defend those athletes.”
Should the Ironmen accomplish that, another playoff
appearance could be in store.
Jackson has qualified for the postseason seven times, with
all of them coming beginning in 1996.
After two straight seasons in Division II, Region 8, the
Ironmen dropped to Division III, Region 12, where they secured the seventh seed
for the state playoffs in 2006.
It was Jackson’s seven playoff berth in school history.
“Playoffs is where you measure your program as a whole,”
said Hall. “Statewide, people don’t look at how many conference championships
you win, they look at how times you get in the playoffs. We really want to
focus our attention on getting in the playoffs. That’s our big goal every year
and playing in our league will help us prepare for that.”
Indeed, it is a new era in Alumni Stadium.
Still, the goal of continuing the rich tradition remains the
The Jackson High School varsity coaching staff has a mix of
newcomers, and holdovers, from Wolford’s staff.
Remaining on staff are Jake Taylor, Doug Wooten and Morgan
In addition to the incoming Halls is Randy Duncan.
Andy Hall heads up the offense with Larry Hall handling the
“Our coaching staff has meshed very well. The returning
coaches and the new coaches have come together to form a very nice, cohesive
and energetic staff, ” said Andy Hall. “These guys work their tails off.
Because of that, it makes my job much easier. We get along well, we’re working
hard together, and I think that’s going to make for a successful program.”
Just for kicks
With a kicker with the surname Mullins in the Jackson
program for the past seven seasons, the Ironmen enjoy a luxury few high school
A two-time all-district placekicker.
kicker, and is almost automatic on extra points.
The senior Mullins is in his third season as the Ironmen’s
He made 24-of-27 PATs last season.
Twelve of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks, with 35-of-42
sailing inside the 10-yard-line and 26-of-42 landing inside the five.
Hall hopes Mullins means the difference in winning and
losing games this season.
“We are going to use Ryan,” said the coach. “When we’re
inside the 35-yard line, we have to look to kick field goals. We don’t want to
punt a whole lot. We want to make sure we utilize him at all costs. High school
teams are not used to kicking a lot of field goals. But we have quality kicker
so let’s use him. As a scorer on offense, he is definitely a threat that teams
are going to look at. That’s going to help us, because I think we’re going to
be in a lot of tight ballgames this year and he can be the difference in a lot
of these games. On kickoffs, we expect him to kick it in the end zone or inside
the 5-yard line every time. We’re fortunate to have him. And he’s getting
better punting the ball.”