JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Demetric Jackson doesn’t need a refresher. He knows exactly what’s expected at Columbia High School.
Jackson had spent the past 14 seasons not far from Columbia as the head coach at Fort White. But when he heard that Brian Allen had resigned from the Tigers job, Jackson started making some phone calls.
One of Jackson’s first was to Columbia principal Thomas Hosford to express his interest. And days later, Jackson was hired to keep the tradition going in Lake City.
It’s a homecoming for Jackson as it was Allen before him.
Jackson played quarterback at Columbia High and was a Super 11 player as a senior during his final season in 1991. He made the switch to defense in college and played cornerback for Steve Spurrier and the Gators. Jackson had four career interceptions and won a national championship as a senior in 1996.
“It’s very important to me, knowing all the tradition and the school pride the community has. This is big time football. You don’t take second fiddle to anybody in high school football when it comes to Columbia High School,” Jackson said.
“I have some big shoes to fill. Great opportunity to take this program to even higher heights. We’ve had some great coaches throughout the years, and now it’s just the opportunity for me to showcase what I can do at my alma mater. So I know what’s at stake and you know there’s a lot of great kids, players, coaches that went through this program. And now it’s just an opportunity for me.”
Jackson has been back in Columbia County for decades.
He spent 21 seasons coaching at Fort White, the final 14 as the Indians head coach. He went 90-61 there and took Fort White to the state playoffs 12 times. Jackson said that he knows the expectations are steeper at Columbia than most programs around. The Tigers expect to be in the state playoffs and make a deep trek annually.
And the fact that Allen kept the Tigers program humming along during his 10-year tenure cements what will be expected from Jackson.
He’s eager for that challenge.
“He [Allen] left the program in good hands. You got a good group, nucleus, coming back, and have a tough schedule, but I think it’s a schedule that we can build and win some ballgames on,” Jackson said. “And that’s our challenge is to go out and get ready from the get go, hit the ground running and see what we can do.”