By Robert Wilson
Lance Pogue – one of the most successful high school football coaches in Mississippi – resigned Monday as Jackson Academy’s head football coach, making the latest change at the Northeast Jackson private school.
Josh Brooks, who took JA to the MAIS Overall boys basketball championship game this season, resigned a week ago.
Jimmy Messer is the new JA associate head of school for student life, which part of his duties will be athletics. He started in February. Messer replaced David Sykes, who took the AD job this past year at Hartfield Academy. Pogue was the interim AD this year.
Palmer Kennedy is in his first year as JA’s head of school. He came from Birmingham and also was an administrator in Mobile for many years.
Pogue was at JA for five seasons, the first three as defensive coordinator and the last two as head coach. In his first year as head coach, Pogue led JA to a 10-4 record and a MAIS Class 6A runner-up finish to Madison-Ridgeland Academy. It was the first time JA had been in the state championship game since 2013. JA defeated Jackson Prep 28-21 in the state semifinals to end Prep’s 12 game consecutive win streak over JA. It was Ricky Black’s final game at Prep’s head football coach. Black, the second winningest football coach in Mississippi history, resigned the next February. Pogue led JA to an 8-4 record and the 6A state semifinals last season. He has won 228 games in 24 seasons, including 126 wins, one national championship and five state titles in 10 seasons at South Panola.
“It was time for me to step down,” Pogue said. “JA is in great shape. They have some great kids coming back next year in the program and they will be fine.”
Brooks led JA to the MAIS Overall championship game this season and a 27-14 record. He coached JA to an upset over defending Overall champion MRA and ended MRA’s 11-game winning streak over JA in the Overall semifinals. Brooks had a 91-48 record in four seasons at JA, including a state runner-up finish his first season. He was also a head coach at Hernando High for four seasons. Brooks was an assistant at Mississippi College, Belhaven, Jackson Prep and at Hillcrest where he won an Overall title in 2001. Brooks has a career record of 166-89 in eight seasons.
“The administration and I didn’t agree on the future direction of the program,” Brooks said. “I am very confident in the calling God has on my life as a man and as a coach. I’m excited about my next opportunity.”
Two JA assistant football coaches are leaving. JA graduate and longtime assistant football coach Bryan Madden has taken an assistant football coaching position at three-time MAIS defending Class 6A state champion MRA. Madden coached at JA for 15 years. JA assistant coach Ken Chandler has been named the head football coach at Winona Christian School. Also, JA assistant football coach Danny Robertson is out with health issues.
Messer comes to JA from Brookstone School in Columbus, Ga., where he was the AD. He was head of school at Cottage Hill Christian Academy before going to Brookstone. Messer also was AD at St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Mobile for three years and boys basketball coach for eight years. He was AD and boys basketball coach at Enterprise State Community College in Alabama for three years. Messer and Kennedy know each other from both working at private schools in Mobile.
JA announced it has promoted JA assistant high school coach and junior high head coach Jesse Taylor to replace Brooks. Taylor, who played at Mississippi College, has been at JA for three seasons.
“Coach Taylor is a talented basketball coach who has been very successful with our JV program,” Messer said. “But more than that, he is a builder of young men. He lives out our mission statement every day as he nurtures, inspires, and equips our student athletes to be the best basketball players they can be, and as a spiritual leader, he helps them discover their purpose. We believe he is the right individual at the right time for JA basketball.”