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New Scrapper football head coach named

NEW COACH FOR NASHVILLE SCRAPPERS. Shawn Jackson, currently coaching in Missouri, was named the new head coach for the Nashville Scrappers in a special school board meeting Friday, Dec. 22. Jackson’s family attended the meeting. The group includes sons Cooper and Kellon, Coach Shawn Jackson and his wife Abbie.

By John R. Schirmer

News-Leader staff

The Nashville School Board last week named Shawn Jackson of Hayti, Mo., head coach of the Scrapper football team. 

Board members approved Jackson’s hiring on a 4-1 vote in a special meeting Friday, Dec. 22.

Jackson is the head coach at Hayti, the school from which he graduated.

Superintendent Doug Graham recommended Jackson’s hiring before the board voted. “It is with great excitement that I recommend Shawn Jackson for the position of head football coach and assistant athletic director beginning Jan. 8, 2024,” Graham said.

Board president Tem Gunter was the lone “no” vote. “The only issue I see is that in 23 years, he’s coached in five states. That concerns me a bit. I have no other comment.”

Graham said that Jackson was the unanimous choice of the district’s search committee, which included Athletic Director James “Bunch” Nichols, high school Principal Ashley Riggs and Assistant Superintendent Tate Gordon.

“They contacted references and vetted the applicants,” Graham said. “They made a unanimous recommendation. I trust our staff.”

In their first interviews with Jackson, committee members “addressed the number of places he’s been in. He’s 52 years old and looking for home. He told us he’s chased the ball all his life and heard this is a destination job. He convinced us that this is a job he wants to make home,” according to Graham.

Graham said that the “thing that sold us on Jackson was his love of kids. He puts them first. We felt he is the right guy. He’ll learn about Scrapper tradition. He has all the right ideas to pass along to kids and get them excited.”

Jackson’s attention “to X’s and O’s and his knowledge of football met our standards,” Graham said.

Jackson was chosen from a field of nine applicants, according to Graham. 

The applicants included Jackson, Russ Phillips, offensive coordinator at Hendrix College; Steven Kehner, head coach at Glen Rose; Mark King, head coach at Magnolia; Ricky Coon, defensive coordinator at Division One FCS Southeast Missouri State; Andrew Maddox, head coach at Louisiana Christian University; Todd Scott, offensive coordinator at Dardanelle; Richard Strickland, assistant head coach, Nacogdoches, Texas; and Willie Henry, head coach, Van Buren.

Strickland is a former defensive coordinator at Nashville. Henry is a Nashville graduate and former player for the Scrappers.

In addition to the nine applicants, Graham said there were eight more coaches “that we reached out to. They visited with us but never submitted a resume to protect their current job.”

Jackson’s first day at Nashville will be Monday, Jan. 8. He said he will meet with the players and start to work immediately.

Jackson and his wife Abbie have three sons. Cole Jackson, 23, teaches at Hayti. Kellon Jackson is a high school junior, and Cooper Jackson is a ninth grader. Both are football players and will attend school at Nashville starting in January.

Abbie Jackson teaches at Hayti, where she will finish out the spring semester.

Jackson said his “pathway to coaching is different” from others in the profession. He grew up in Hayti. While attending college at Arkansas State in Jonesboro, he called plays for the Hayti football team.

Jackson worked in a steel mill for a while before entering coaching full-time.

Stops on the way to Nashville included Blytheville, the University of Missouri, a school in Georgia, Crossett and back to Hayti.

Graham said he received an evaluation of Jackson from “a close friend in the Crossett administration. When Coach Jackson announced he was leaving, there wasn’t a dry eye in the city. He puts kids first.”

Jackson said his teams throw the ball and run the ball. “It’s real simple. If [the opponent] has everybody in to stop the run, we throw. If they have everybody in to defend the pass, we run.”

He said there was one game “where we ran for 282 yards and had 282 yards passing.”

Defensively, “We’ll come after you. The defense while hit you when they get off the bus,” Jackson said.

“I want to put kids in the best position to be successful. The best 11 will be out there,” he said.

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