On Tuesday, Columbia (Lake City) football coach Brian Allen submitted his resignation. On Thursday, the Tigers named his replacement.
Demetric Jackson, who spent the past 14 years as the head coach at Fort White, including seven years as an assistant with the Indians, has been named the new head football coach of the Tigers.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Jackson, who won a national championship his senior year at Florida in 1996 under coach Steve Spurrier. “It’s a great opportunity. There have been some great coaches and players at Columbia. It’s an opportunity to build on that foundation. I’m excited for the challenge.”
Fort White, which finished 2-8 this past season, had three nine-win seasons under Jackson (2008, 2015 and 2016).
“When Demetric called me Wednesday afternoon and expressed interest in the job, I knew I should listen,” Hosford said. “He’s a local guy who has been successful as a head coach.”
Jackson was thankful for his time at Fort White but felt it was time to move on.
“I took Fort White as high as I could,” he said. “I had a great run. The kids gave everything, but it was time to move on and give someone else an opportunity and try my hand at a much bigger school.”
Hosford said Columbia has had success when they’ve hired local guys in the past, citing FHSAA Hall of Fame inductee Danny Green and Allen, who is a 1996 graduate of CHS.
“He’s [Jackson] a CHS alum so he knows what CHS football means to our community,” Hosford said. “Honestly, it was an easy decision when he said he wanted the job.”
The timing couldn’t be more ideal and it seemed like a perfect fit.
“Coach Jackson has done a great job at Fort White and he is also a Columbia alum,” Faulkner said. “We are very fortunate to get such a high-quality coach in such a short time, at a very uncommon time of the year to hire a football coach.”
Meanwhile, Allen stepped down after 10 seasons as the head coach of the Tigers.
He made the postseason every year and finished with double-digit wins four times at Columbia, including a 12-2 mark in 2015 when the Tigers advanced to the Class 7A state semifinals. It was their first trip since 1997.
According to Jordan Kroeger of the Lake City Reporter, Green (93) and Allen (86) are second and third, respectively, all-time in wins at CHS, behind Bobby Simmons (113).
However, it’s what Allen has done off the gridiron that will leave the biggest footprint.
“Brian Allen has been more than just a coach at CHS,” said Columbia principal Trey Hosford. “He’s been a father figure to hundreds of kids. He taught them how to be successful in life after high school. I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for our school.”
Columbia athletics director Steve Faulkner said Coach Allen “has meant a tremendous amount to CHS.”
“The impact he has had on every kid who has worn that jersey will last a lifetime,” Faulkner said.
With fall practice set to begin on July 26, Jackson said he is eager to get to work.
“I’m looking forward to getting back to what they did in 1967 [Columbia defeated Auburndale to win the Class A state title],” Jackson said. “I have the pieces in place. We just need the community’s help, the players buying in, and a little luck from the injury bug.”
Columbia is scheduled to begin the regular season at home against American Heritage (Delray Beach) on Friday, Aug. 27.