Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Master Planner Sullivan Rebuilds Jackson

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Master Planner Sullivan Rebuilds Jackson

Article excerpt

Kevin Sullivan has a knack for turning around football

programs, but this year figured to be his toughest challenge.

He was hired in April to reverse the fortunes of Jackson's

program, but recent history is against Sullivan turning around

the Tigers. Entering this season, the team had a 19-62 record

during the decade; it hasn't had a winning season since 1982;

and it has not been considered a power since the mid-'70s.

Starting the season 2-1 might not be cause for celebration at

schools such as White or Raines. But Jackson hasn't had a

winning season since 1982, and the two victories already match

last season's total.

"It's a long season," Sullivan said. "I know it's an upswing

right now, but we've got to keep working. Success breeds

confidence. Now they believe in what we're doing."

The players are confident the program is headed in the right

direction.

"It almost makes me want to be a ninth-grader again," said

senior running back Thaddeus Hampton, the Tigers' leading rusher

with 370 yards. "Let me come back through the program and be

even better when I leave."

Taking on downtrodden programs is Sullivan's trademark. He took

over at Deerfield Beach in 1990 and, in two seasons, led the

Bucks to their first playoff appearance since 1982.

He accepted a different sort of challenge in 1994. Sullivan was

charged with coaching the firstyear Port Orange Atlantic team.

He led the Sharks to the playoffs in their second and third

years of existence, and just missed the postseason last year

with an 8-2 mark.

"We were sorry to see him go," then-Atlantic principal Chris

Colwell said. "He did a terrific job."

Reputation alone did not land Sullivan at Jackson. He met with

Principal Jack Shanklin and Athletic Director Jackie Simmons and

made a positive impression with extensive knowledge of the

program.

"He had a plan," Shanklin said. "He knew what he wanted to do.

He studied Jackson High School and knew the athletes we had. …

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