PORT ST. JOE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The Port St. Joe Sharks have announced their new head football coach and athletic director: Tanner Jones, a 32-year-old who moves south from Cairo, Georgia, where he spent last season as the co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Tanner Jones talks to players on the Taylor sidelines (Perry News Herald/Taco Times).
This will be the second head coaching stint for Jones, who spent five seasons as the head coach at Taylor County High School between 2014 and 2018. He says he left that job to move to Cairo because he saw a better opportunity there.
Now he's heading south for another good opportunity, one he believes will keep him around for quite some time.
Jones takes over for Greg Jordan, who departed for Liberty after one Final Four appearance and a 16-9 record in two seasons.
Tanner Jones is the son of J.D. Jones, a successful head football coach at Wakulla for more than three decades who won two state championships with the War Eagles and planted seeds of appreciation for both football and Port St. Joe in his son.
"When I was a kid on the sidelines with my father and Wakulla football, as a ball boy I remember the atmosphere, the fans the smoke, dad yelling getting, probably because we were getting our tails beat!"
"All that has stuck with me through the years," Jones recalled. "Later I got the chance to coach against St. Joe while in Perry, and was always impressed by the people that we met here, and impressed with the great people in this great community. It's not just the athletic scene, it's everything. And now, to get the chance to raise a family here, we have two little girls, my wife loves it, we just see ourselves raising a family not just going to coach."
In fact, for coach Jones, who's been coming to Port St. Joe as a ball boy, as a coach, and to visit lifelong friends from time to time, well taking this job is you could argue, a homecoming of sorts!
"My wife and I, and we brought out daughters, we went over there and visited and saw, a couple of weeks ago, it was that same thing." Jones told us. "Everybody we met shook your hand, looked you in the eye, told you 'nice to meet you'. It made you feel at home. And so a lot of that, for my wife, driving back, she's from Birmingham, Alabama, we were driving back, she said everybody so nice over here. This is a place I want to be."
Coach Jones says he's already evaluating the returning players and he knows the cupboard is not bare.
"The athletes, we feel are there." the coach says. "And now it's gonna be putting them in the right situation and building on the younger kids. Really trying to develop those young guys and doing everything we can in the weight room, speed training, ball skills. And I say ball skills because offensively, that's what we do, that's what we hang our hat on. We like to spread it, throw the ball around, get a lot of different guys touches, trying to create grass, get athletes in space and I think ultimately I think we like to have fun when we're doing it.
Jones expects to start work at the school in mid-February.
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