Keller Citizen

Randy Jackson returns to Grapevine ready to lead a winner

Randy Jackson intends on making his second tour at Grapevine last longer.

Grapevine’s new head football coach doesn’t come into this new position sight unseen. It’s just that the sights have been updated since he was an assistant coach in 2003-2004.

But the relationship he formed in his early coaching years with new Grapevine executive athletic director Phil Blue attracted him to this position and led him away from his job at Plano East. Jackson started on April 8.

“He was one of my bosses early in my career and he’s just a big mentor of mine,” Jackson said. “I believe him. We’re like-minded. I’m fortunate because this is going to be a great place for me and my family.”

Now, don’t think Jackson is a job hopper because he was at Plano East for only one season. As he described it, the situation at Plano East became difficult. He left Mesquite Poteet last summer for Plano East and had to scramble all summer getting everything in place. The Panthers finished 5-5 and missed the playoffs.

While he would have stayed had the Grapevine job not materialized, Jackson believed he would struggled because the system was set up to where he could not have all his assistants on campus at the same time. He envisioned first period football, where the players from the two 9-10 grade campuses could come over and go through workouts. That would mean all of his assistants would be there as well. When he was told that couldn’t be done, Jackson looked for a new opportunity.

Sometimes fate plays a hand. Grapevine’s football program had struggled the last two seasons, winning four games. Grapevine was one of the smallest current Class 5A schools in Texas. At the highest level, it’s about numbers. Grapevine just didn’t have them.

But Jackson brings a track record of success. In 14 seasons, he’s 119-51 and has won 19 playoff games between Mesquite Poteet, Lone Oak, DeKalb, Mason and Paducah.

And with Grapevine’s new Class 5A district (4A is becomes 5A beginning in 2014-2015), it’s really sitting right there for the Mustangs to return to the postseason. It will be at the top of the enrollment figures versus other 5A programs. That’s a big advantage. But it will take more.

“It’s all about the seniors,” Jackson said. “If the seniors think 5-5 is OK, then that will happen. But they will be the ones who will help bring the change. The focus will be on us and how good we can get. Then the wins will take care of themselves.”

While his hiring comes very late in the hiring cycle, Jackson said this program will go through spring football starting May 1. The spring game is May 29. It will not be a specific focus on plays but more of how Jackson does things. He also wants to see what he has in pads. Plus, May is the evaluation period for college coaches. So if a coach drops by, he may see a player who catches his attention. Players will go through summer 7-on-7 state qualifier tournaments. So expect likely starting quarterback Sam Barry to get a lot of work.

OK, so I’ve buried the important part. Jackson will play an up-tempo offense with three wide receivers. The goal is to run about 75 plays. In one season at Poteet, his offense had 49 rushing touchdowns and 39 passing touchdowns.

Defensively, this group will base out of the 3-4 and can flex out to four down linemen. Jackson wants an aggressive approach and to not be reactive. Winning games 49-42 isn’t the idea. Winning 28-17 is.

Grapevine needs Jackson as much as Jackson needs Grapevine. I do expect Grapevine to make the playoffs in 2014 because of its advantageous situation. But the key for this fall is about laying a foundation as much as it is winning.

“I’m not a control freak,” Jackson said, “But I am a one-way kind of coach. You win through discipline and character. That’s how you succeed.”