Firm handshake: Check.
Confidence, charm, commitment: Check, check, check.
Ability to turn around a struggling football program: We’ll see.
Phil Jacobs is everything you would want in a high school football coach. He has a proven track record, trophies and awards on the mantle. He played the game, coached the game and clearly understands what it takes to win the game. And Dexter athletic officials believe he can win the game(s) for the Dreadnaughts.
“This job came calling and it was too good to pass up,” said Jacobs, during last Friday’s Touchdown Club golf outing in Ann Arbor. “I’m very excited to be here and to see what the future has in store.”
Jacobs has over 25 years of high school and collegiate coaching experience, including 11 years as a head coach at his alma matter, Adrian High School. Over his career as a head coach, Jacobs’ teams qualified for seven consecutive playoff appearances, accumulating a 55-21 win-loss record over that timeframe, five SEC titles and two district titles and regional appearances.
Jacobs, a lifelong resident of Adrian, spent the past two years on the football staff at Siena Heights University.
Jacobs knows Dexter from the opposite sidelines, having coached against them during his successful run at Adrian.
“Yeah, we know them pretty well as an opponent and I’m familiar with the program from that standpoint,” he said. “And we are familiar with the rest of the SEC schools as well so that should help us to a degree.”
His scouting report on the Dreadnaughts?
“They always had big and athletic kids,” he said. “They seemed to be that .500 type club that just couldn’t get over the hump for whatever reasons. I hope we don’t find out why.”
And to avoid doing that he needs to make some changes.
“We need to change the culture and practice at a little different tempo and do things a little differently than they have been done before,” he said.
And by changing the culture, he means more than with this team and this season. How they do things at the varsity level should trickle down to the younger players and teams to build consistency and create enthusiasm.
“As a staff we are already a little behind because I was hired in late and we have only just recently finished putting the coaching staff together,” he said. “The other schools have kind of had a jump start on us so we need to treat this like we are behind right now and show some urgency. But it’s going to be building process. We hope to see results right away but in a realistic picture you are going to see better results as we go down the road.”
But Jacobs hopes that road isn’t a long one. He’s used to winning and plans on turning things around quicker rather than later.
“I hope we will soon be qualifying for SEC titles and the playoffs,” he said.
He does see plenty of things to build on and plenty of optimism and enthusiasm to use to his advantage.
“The facilities are really good and the whole area is beautiful here,” he said. “The whole community is really special and supportive. The sense of community is important.”
In 2010, Jacobs was recognized as National Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year by American Football Monthly.
In addition to success on the athletic field, Jacobs has been celebrated as a classroom teacher. In 2011, he was awarded with an Adrian Public Schools Outstanding Teacher and Mentor Award for his work with students and has been working as an Instructional Coach facilitating the district’s curriculum and working with fellow teachers on effective classroom strategies.
That ability to teach, his passion to succeed and his knowledge of the great game of football could be exactly what the program needs in 2017 to turn things around for this season and more importantly future seasons.