Fairland hires Jackson as new head football coach
Published 11:17 pm Wednesday, May 31, 2023
By Jim Walker
PROCTORVILLE — Mike Jackson is going from being the coach on the field to being the coach on the sidelines.
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The former All-Ohio quarterback who directed the the Fairland Dragons on the field will now be guiding the team from off the field after being named the head coach on Wednesday.
Jackson replaces Melvin Cunningham who took the head coaching job at Murray High School in Murray, Ky.
“It was kind of a last-minute thing, We’ve got about 10 weeks to go now. But we’re all familiar with each other so I think it will be alright,” said Jackson.
“We’re keeping the same people on and we had a few more jump on board and we may add a few more.”
Fairland athletic director Jeff Gorby said Jackson was a great choice to continue the success of the Dragons’ program.
“He has worked his way up through the program and we are excited about this adventure,” said Gorby. “Michael has been an assistant in the Fairland program now for several years. The program will continue to grow under Jackson.”
Jackson played at Fairland for Jack Harris who instituted a passing offense that carried the team to the playoffs his senior season. Jackson plans to continue the wide-open offense the Dragons have used under Cunningham.
“We’re still going to be the spread and defensively we’re looking at the 3-4. We might go a little bit faster, but it’ll be a lot of the same stuff,” said Jackson.
“We have a lot of the playmakers back. We only lost six seniors and we have a lot of the players back.”
Jackson is looking forward to being elevated to the head coaching position.
“I’m excited for it and the kids are excited for it. I can’t wait to get started but we have a lot of work to do,” said Jackson.
“I’ve realized right out of the gate I’ve got to rely on my assistants to watch film. I haven’t had time to watch film from last year because of all the other stuff I have to do that isn’t actually coaching. I’ve got a great group of parents who have jumped in and help.
“You’ve got to know not to micro-manage. You have to trust your people. If you put them around you for a reason, you must have put them there for a reason.”
Jackson has coached a lot of the players from grade school through high school. One of the key returning players is quarterback Peyton Jackson who is the son of the head coach. Jackson was coaching the quarterbacks but stepped aside when his son was a sophomore.
“He still got enough of me. He can’t get rid of me,” Jackson said with a laugh.
Jackson and Gorby played together for the Dragons. While Jackson was the quarterback Gorby was the center.
“There are very few athletic directors across the country that can say they handed the ball to their high school quarterback every play and 30 years later then hand the football to him as the head coach,” said Gorby with a laugh.
A former Marshall All-American defensive back, Cunningham posted a 46-37 record in 10 seasons with the Dragons. He won an Ohio Valley Conference title and guided the team to the Division 6 Region 23 title game in 202 and in 2021 as Fairland posted a 13-2 record, the most wins ever in a season for the program.