The new football coach at Brainerd High School is a familiar face.
Stanley Jackson, who led Brainerd's program from 2010 to 2012 and was an assistant for last season's team, has been named head coach of the Panthers once again.
"When I started working at this school, it was to serve the kids," said Jackson, who began teaching and coaching at Brainerd in 1995 and has also coached girls' basketball, track and field and wrestling. "I live in this community and consider myself a part of the fabric of Brainerd. I love the school and the kids here and want to help develop them not only as athletes but also make sure we're getting those wins in the classroom, too.
"We'll focus on discipline, character and work ethic because those are the things that make you successful on and off the field. It took longer than a lot of us wanted to get this done, so we're behind where other programs are, but we'll look to continue to build on the direction the program has been headed recently."
Before a new football coach could be named, Brainerd first had to fill its vacant principal position, which it did last week when Crystal Sorrells was hired.
Jackson replaces Tyrus Ward, who resigned after last season to take over the Tyner program. However, Ward resigned at Tyner last week to pursue other coaching options, and the Rams are currently the only area high school football program still searching for a new head coach.
Brainerd finished 8-5 last season, reaching the second round of the TSSAA Class 3A playoffs.
"Stanley is a great asset to the school already. He knows our personnel, so it will make for a smooth transition," Brainerd athletic director Levar Brown said. "He made an impact on the defensive side of the ball last season, and this was just the natural thing to do."
Jackson has also worked as an assistant at Boyd Buchanan, Howard and Notre Dame.
In his first stint as Brainerd's head coach, Jackson guided the 2011 Panthers to the second round of the Class 4A playoffs. That season, they defeated rivals Tyner and Howard and also upset Rhea County and East Hamilton, beating the latter in the first round of the playoffs.
"The first person I checked with before agreeing to take the job was my wife," Jackson said. "People don't understand what all a coach's wife has to deal with, so I made sure she was on board ,too.
"We're going to get to work right away. I'm excited. We've got a good group of kids, and we're going to allow them to be athletes and do what they do best on the field."