After two years at the helm of the McCracken County football program, Shawn Jackson has resigned to take an offensive coordinator job in Georgia.
Jackson, who will remain in Paducah until March 1, said his new opportunity at Camden County High School is a chance to coach one of the best schools in Georgia on the national stage. Camden is a Class 7A school that is one of the powers in a state rich with top-level football players.
"Fifteen years ago when I was in Missouri, I never thought I'd have an opportunity like this," Jackson said. "It's football all the time in Georgia. Over here, you can't throw in June, you can't do 7-on-7s. There, you can do it all the time. The structure is more football friendly."
Camden is coached by Bob Sphire, a former Lexington Catholic head coach whom Jackson calls his coaching mentor.
The Mustangs have made gradual steps in becoming a west Kentucky power during Jackson's tenure. In his first season, McCracken finished with a school record 10 wins and advanced to the Class 6A state quarterfinals for the first time.
Last season, McCracken went 7-4 and remained one of the best offensive teams in the state despite playing a schedule more challenging than any the Mustangs had in their previous three years.
"The school has worked with us and made a lot of improvements," Jackson said. "(Athletic director) Kris Garrett has wanted to move the program along. He, I and (McCracken principal) Michael Ceglinski and the booster program have been unbelievable. We're getting it close to McCracken being a very good 6A school."
In an interview with WPAD-FM's Eric Chumbler, Garrett said he was very appreciative of the work Jackson did while at McCracken.
"I appreciate what coach Jackson has done for our program in his two years at McCracken," Garrett said. "Coach Jackson brought high school and college recruiting experience, and our kids received benefits from being in front of so many college coaches."
McCracken already has three seniors set to play Division-I football next season -- Cash Jones, Darian Woods and Tyce Daniel -- and Jackson is staying at the school until March to help out more with recruitment. He said it was important for him not to leave his seniors "high and dry."
It was a positive experience for Jackson in his two years at McCracken, and it all started with the relationships.
"As far as the football perspective. Coach (Jack) Haskins started the program, and we built on it and grew it some more. What we need is someone to put the finishing touches on it," he said. "There are good players here, good facilities here, the booster program is in good shape. Things have grown over time thanks to a lot of people's help."
Garrett said he hopes to have a new head coach in place by March 1, in time for spring football.