La Marque head football coach and campus athletic coordinator Mike Jackson on Wednesday announced he will be leaving the Cougars program to accept the same position at Grand Oaks High School in Conroe ISD.
“I’m going to miss G-County, and it’s been a great run,” Jackson said. “Coaching is what I do, so it’s time to go to work.”
Texas City ISD athletic director Leland Surovik said there is not yet a concrete timetable to hire Jackson’s replacement, but said the school district will post the job listing as soon as possible and select the candidate best suited for the position.
“I thought he did a great job, he became a great friend, and I wish him the best in his new endeavor,” Surovik said.
Whoever is named the new La Marque head football coach inherits a program with one of the state’s richest histories, boasting five state championships and 10 state final appearances.
Much has changed for the school since La Marque’s most recent football title in 2006, though. Dwindling numbers saw the school drop two classifications to 3A-I, and all of La Marque’s campuses were absorbed by Texas City ISD when the school district was shut down roughly two years ago.
“It’s been quite unique with everything that’s gone on,” Jackson said.
In seven seasons at the helm of the Cougars, Jackson compiled an overall record of 64-23, which included a 28-4 district record and a run of five consecutive district championships from 2012-16. La Marque also was 30-6 in home games under Jackson.
“I am proud of everything we have accomplished during my time here,” Jackson said. “We have won more games than any other Galveston County football program the past seven years. We have sent kids to major colleges on scholarships … not to mention several others playing at smaller colleges and one playing in the NFL.”
Among the history of La Marque head coaches, Jackson ranks fourth all-time in wins, third in playoff appearances, third in district championships, fourth in number of seasons and sixth in winning percentage. The Cougars made the playoffs in all seven of Jackson’s seasons.
Other La Marque athletic programs that have been highly successful during Jackson’s time as the head of the department include boys basketball making state back-to-back seasons (2015, 2016), and track and field and powerlifting with multiple state qualifiers.
“I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Ecomet Burley for hiring me, and express thanks to superintendents Terri Watkins, Dr. Cynthia Lusignolo and Dr. Rodney Cavness for their support,” Jackson said.
Jackson brings to Grand Oaks 25 total years of experience as a head coach with a 183-98-4 record. Jackson’s teams have reached the playoffs in 21 of those years, and he has two state championships from earlier in his career. Grand Oaks will be Jackson’s eighth different team for which he has been head football coach.
“We’re very excited to have coach Jackson, we feel blessed that he’s coming here to our community,” Chris Povich, who will be the new principal at Grand Oaks, said. “We’re looking forward to great things and starting a new high school and seeing what our kids can achieve.”
Povich said the position received more than 69 applicants. That field was then narrowed down to 12 candidates in a first round of interviews before whittling that group down to four finalists for a second round of interviews.
“Unlike other head coach positions, I’m counting on hiring an athletic director who’s also going to assist me as the principal in hiring all the other head coaches for all the other sports, as well,” Povich said. “Coach Jackson brings all his experiences with him, all his connections he knows from the greater Houston area, a wealth of knowledge.
“He also had a vision that matched up very much with the vision that I have for this high school — a vision of where all the different programs work together,” Povich added. “He had a very complete idea of how to make that happen.”
Grand Oaks is Conroe ISD’s newest high school and will open its facilities in the 2018-19 school year. Jackson will build the football program from the ground up in preparation for its varsity debut in 2020, following realignment. Grand Oaks will start as a ninth and 10th grade campus, add 11th grade in 2019-20, and then have its first senior class in 2020-21, when it is expected to be a Class 6A school, Jackson said.
Individual sports will compete on the varsity level in a Class 5A district next school year, and in 2019-20, all sports but football will field varsity teams in the 5A district, Jackson said.
“Grand Oaks High School gives me the opportunity to get back to the 6A level,” Jackson said. “The idea of building a new program from scratch was appealing, as were the new facilities and the opportunity to coach my own kids as they grow up.”
Jackson’s tenure at La Marque overlapped with the school district’s financial and management troubles that eventually led to the state-mandated annexation of the district by Texas City ISD, but sports remained a constant positive.
“I have gone through five superintendents, five principals and a district annexation process in my seven years here, so the success we have achieved is directly attributed to the hard work of the coaches and kids who operated under the most uncertain terms and volatile environment imaginable,” Jackson said. “I have come to appreciate the struggle to overcome at La Marque, and I will always cherish the memories and relationships developed here.”