Shawn Keough may be the mayor of Dexter but when it comes to “celebrity” rankings he knows the score. The good-natured Keough introduced himself last Friday to Phil Jacobs, the new varsity head football coach at Dexter High School.
During the Dexter Touchdown Club’s annual golf outing, Keough welcomed Jacobs to Dexter and informed him that the mayor comes second to the football coach in popularity in Dexter.
It was all in good fun and there were plenty of smiles and laughter filling up the tee box. The good fun will give way to hard work starting on Monday, the first official day of practice for high school fall sports.
And Jacobs will have his work cut out for him. He won’t have the experience or numbers on the roster he had while coaching 11 seasons at Adrian. 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.
No one is talking SEC titles and playoffs heading into Monday’s camp. This is going to be a process and this process will take some time.
Dexter football supporters, fans and observers also know the score when it comes to Dreadnaughts football and it’s not pretty. In the last four seasons, the Dreadnaughts won just one game – 26-21 over ironically enough Jacobs’ Adrian team on Sept. 20, 2013. Jacobs won the other 10 meetings against his new team.
The Dreads have one win in five seasons after winning three in 2011 and five in 2010.
Dexter ended the 2016 season 0-9 with only a handful of competitive games despite always playing hard and never giving up under coach Ken Koenig.
First, a look back.
The 2007 team won three of its first four only to lose the next five. The 2006 team won four games and the 2005 team won five. But there also were some lean times before that as Dexter won just 15 games in nine seasons from 1995 through 2003. The Dreadnaughts ended the 2016 season 0-9 with only a handful of competitive games. They scored 76 points while allowing 331 points.
Now, a look forward – and that’s all the Jacobs is thinking about. He can’t erase the past or break down what went wrong. He can only look at his roster, work on implementing his system and trying to bring the successes he had in Adrian to the turf at Al Ritt Stadium.
But there must be something wrong in the water. The program has had good coaches, hard-working and dedicated athletes and certainly the will to succeed. They prepare in the off-season and play hard on game day.
So why are programs only a screen pass away such as Chelsea, Pioneer and Saline thriving on the gridiron while Dexter can’t seem to find equal footing. Everyone has their reasons, ideas and excuses.
But the answer is clearly multiple answers. It’s not just one thing. Jacobs needs to look both long-term and short-term if he is to turn around the Dexter football program. He knows that. He’s a very smart individual who seems prepared and ready to take on this challenge.
It’s going to be a long road, not a quick fix. The journey begins Monday.