PORTLAND—Deering’s football team last week named Jason Jackson, a former Cape Elizabeth assistant, as its fifth coach in six seasons.
Jackson is a Portland resident who works as an educational technician at South Portland High School. Jackson was an all-state player in his native Washington state (he is a Raiders fan, but admitted he was cheering for the Seahawks in the recent Super Bowl against the Patriots).
In addition to serving as an assistant with the Capers, Jackson was formerly the head coach of Cape Elizabeth’s Middle School team.
“I love the area,” Jackson said. “When we first moved to the area, I said to my wife, ‘How cool would it be to coach at Deering?’ We live right around the corner and my kids go to Longfellow (School). Coaching is my passion.”
Deering has seen its share of coaching changes in recent years.
After Greg Stilphen stepped down following the 2010 season, ending his 14-year reign, Jon Gallant was hired and spent the 2011 and 2012 campaigns as head coach. After Gallant resigned to take the Massabesic coaching job, Scott Parsons was hired in 2013, but he stepped down at midseason and was replaced by Matt Riddell, who served as the coach the rest of 2013 and again in 2014, before resigning just before the Rams’ annual Thanksgiving Day showdown against city rival Portland.
Deering athletic director Mel Craig expects that Jackson will end the revolving door.
“We’re looking at (Jason) to bring Deering football back to where it should be,” Craig said. “Jason brings a lot of energy and passion. He’s embedded in the Deering community.”
Jackson plans on staying awhile.
“I feel like I can rejuvenate the program because I want to stay,” Jackson said. “The kids have seen my face. I went to almost every basketball game, boys and girls. I’ve coached a lot of these guys’ younger brothers. Deering reminds me a lot of Seattle and the diversity there.”
Portland Public Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk is happy with the hire.
“What impressed me most about Mr. Jackson is that he’s interested in the success of student-athletes not just on the field but in the classroom and in life,” Caulk said. “He understands that is what is important and matters most.”
Deering went 4-5 last season (with one of its victories coming by virtue of a forfeit by Portland). The Rams lost, 28-7, to the Bulldogs in the Eastern Class A quarterfinals.
Jackson brings fellow Cape Elizabeth assistant Eric French to Deering to serve as defensive coordinator. Jackson, who runs the offense, expects to be competitive right away.
“I think the sky’s the limit,” Jackson said. “We have a lot of talented kids. If everybody buys in, I think the fans will be happy and we’ll be great. We’ll run a different package. The quarterback will be under center. We’ll keep it simple with a Power-I, Wing-T, possibly some spread. It depends on personnel.”
Jackson is ready to provide some stability and return the Rams to glory.
“I’m so happy to be in this position,” he said. “The support I’ve had is great. Such positive vibes. I’m ready for the challenge. August can’t get here soon enough. I want to bring the pride back.”
New Deering football coach Jason Jackson.