Three times already in his career as a head football coach, Jasson Adkins has taken over a losing football team and turned it into a winner. He was the first one to acknowledge that he now faces a difference challenge as the new coach at Mount Airy High School.
“I’ve had three head coaching jobs, and all three of them were places that were not like this one,” said Adkins at his first public appearance as the Granite Bears’ coach on Sunday. “They were three places that nobody really wanted to be, to be honest with you. I have experience with turning programs around, but this is a new experience for me, to come into something that is really good.”
Officials at MAHS held a meet-and-greet session for Adkins at Wallace Shelton Stadium on Sunday afternoon, which saw many current and former players, parents, and fans of the program come out to meet the man chosen to succeed Kelly Holder after an outstanding 19-year run at Mount Airy.
Adkins, 39, spent the last six years as head coach at East Wilkes. Hired during the 2011-12 off-season, Adkins took over a program that had enjoyed just one winning season in the previous seven years. He took the Cardinals to the state playoffs in his third season and went 13-1 in 2015, which the team followed up with 8-4 and 9-3 seasons each of the past two years.
“We won 30 games in the last three years with a program that had one winning season in the previous 10,” Adkins said in response to a fan’s question. “In 2015, we had a 13-1 team that just couldn’t find a way to beat Mitchell,” he said of his record-setting team that lost 17-14 to the Mountaineers on a field goal late in the fourth quarter.
“If we could have won that game, I think we could have a shot at the state championship.”
His other two head coaching assignments were at South Iredell, where he took over an 0-11 team and took them to the playoffs twice, and at Patton, where he took over a new school and made it competitive.
Adkins won’t have to do that with the Bears. Rather than raise the bar, he will be tasked with keeping it at a high level.
“The challenge is to continue to take it to the next level, to make sure we’re consistent as far as excellence is concerned,” he said of his new assignment, where the Granite Bears are coming off a 14-1 season and a trip to the 1AA state championship game. “That’s our goal.”
He also said that Mount Airy would remain committed to turning out successful young men both on and off the field.
“We take pride in building young men,” he said. “Wins are very important, but giving these guys the tools that it takes to be successful when they graduate is a big part of our program. We put a lot into the intangibles that make good people.”
Adkins’ wife Shanda, a principal in the Wilkes County school system, and their children accompanied him to the meet-and-greet. The family lives in the eastern part of that county, very close to the Surry County line, but said they might consider relocating closer to Mount Airy at some time in the future. Adkins himself will be a physical education teacher at MAHS.
On the field, Adkins said he would likely continue to run the same system that Holder had been using with the Bears, due to the familiarity of the players with it. He also said he welcomed the fact that Holder, who won 195 games in 19 seasons at Mount Airy, would still be in the community and close to the program.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.