Moves from Blountstown to take over Tiger Sharks

 

 

Greg Jordan is moving from one side of a rivalry to another, adapting to a new color scheme along the way.

Into the closet will go the red and white of Blountstown, out will come the purple and gold, evidenced by the purple tie he wore Friday as he was announced Friday as the new football coach and athletic director of Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School.

Jordan, 48, succeeds John Palmer who stepped down a week ago to become dean of students.

“It was a hard decision to leave,” Jordan said of departing from his second, and longest, head coaching job. “But once I decided to leave, this was an easy choice.”

After 12 years, 144 games (a record of 105-39), two appearances in the state Class 1A championship game, including 2017, and coaching his two sons along the way, it was simply time for a change, Jordan said.

The kids who were kindergarteners when he took the reins at Blountstown, including his younger son, were high school seniors this year.

“There is also a sense of not wanting to stay too long,” Jordan said. “When you hold the football keys there are really only three possible outcomes.

“You are fired, they give you a wink and tell you to resign in 30 days or you leave on your own accord in good standing. I felt like I’d had a great run and it was just time for something new.”

Palmer played something of a matchmaker.

Jim Norton said he did not know Jordan before becoming Superintendent of Gulf County Schools, but that Palmer introduced the two and over the years, as the teams battled each year, a friendship built.

“(Palmer) said one day he was going to retire and there was the guy I was going to want to try to get,” Norton said. “This wouldn’t be possible without John Palmer.”

Palmer, in turn, encouraged Jordan to consider the job when the former decided to depart the sidelines.

“My first hurdle (to the job) was Coach Palmer,” Jordan said. “Without his blessing I wouldn’t be standing here today.”

Palmer and Jordan’s connection was forged while leading teams that would repeatedly face off for district titles and playoff positioning, crafting some of the most memorable contests of the past decade.

Literally, the path to success each season for each program traveled through the campus 50 or so miles away.

“It was a healthy rivalry,” Jordan said. “And a lot of that was the respect I had for the coaches, John Palmer and Chuck Gannon. It was always a healthy rivalry.

“We played hard, but it never got (nasty). Blountstown and Port St. Joe is the best rivalry in the Panhandle.”

And moving from one side of that rivalry to the other, while a bit of an emotional minefield, will be, Jordan said, fairly seamless on the field.

“I think it will be an easy transition,” Jordan said. “We run some of the same principles and do many of the same things,

“From a scheme standpoint, it will look very similar. And I know the kids, the community, the values and the traditions. I am excited about the opportunity.”

This will be Jordan’s third football head coaching job, his first coming in 2005 at Wewahitchka.

Jordan grew up and played multiple sports in Blountstown and after college returned to coach the baseball team and assist in football.

After four years as defensive coordinator in football, helping Blountstown to the 2004 Class 2A state title game, Jordan sought an opportunity to move up in football.

In his one season at Wewahitchka, the Gators went 8-3 and reached the playoffs.

The only losses were to Port St. Joe, which won the state Class 1A championship, Blountstown, a state Class 2A semifinalist that season, and Lafayette Mayo in the playoffs.

Port St. Joe beat top-ranked Mayo in the Region 1-1A title game.

Jordan said in 2006 and again Friday he had hoped to stay at Wewahitchka eight or 10 years and bring stability to the program.

But in a twist that would prove somewhat ironic, Bobby Johns, now head coach at Wewahitchka, left Blountstown after the 2005 season to take over at Baker County.

Jordan got the full-court press to return home, including from a school superintendent and principal who were among his first coaches and mentors.

The departure from Wewahitchka was, Jordan said, very difficult.

His second departure moreso.

Jordan informed his team Tuesday that he was leaving, telling his 15 seniors separately before telling the rest of the squad.

There was some, he said, who took the news hard.

“I told them (the seniors) I needed their help one more time” with the rest of the team, Jordan said. “It is a bittersweet thing. I am the only coach those kids know. That’s the group I went out with.

“But the time is right for me. I had looked at a few other schools, but this opportunity presented itself and looking at the big picture, this was the right fit.”