Former Head Coaches
Coach Amburg was head coach in Jacksonville from 1949 - 1954. Amburg came from Kerens where he had one bi-district win. Coach Amburg fielded two bi-district teams during his seven year stay. He also headed the physical education program and was supervisor of other sports programs. Amburg and his staff installed the split "T" formation which was the beginning of the quarterback taking the snap from underneath the center.
Coach O'Dell coached in Jacksonville form 1951 - 1957. He was head coach from 1954 - 1957. The love of coaching football and enjoyment of the game brought O'Dell into coaching. Amburg and O'Dell played together at ETSU. Amburg asked O"Dell to be his assistant at Jacksonville and this brought he and his family here. His philosophy was to enjoy the sport, and do your best. He enjoyed playing football even more than coaching it, and went on to be an outstanding principal for JISD. Coaching took a lot of time away from his family. He had a varsity scouting team and a varsity back-up team. His toughest opponent was Carthage, and his weakest was Center.
Phillips only coached in Jacksonville for the 1958 year. His high school coach was the influence in his life which caused him to pursue the profession of coaching. Phillips left A & M as an assistant coach to be a head coach in Jacksonville, His coaching philosophy was to do your best, and to act right. When asked what coaching has meant to his life, he responded that very few people get paid for something they love. He believed that coaching taught him the value of hard work. All of his teams were his arch rivals, and he felt that none of the teams he played were weak. They practice in the Tomato Bowl. Phillips started the "numbers defense". He had two players he coached who went on to the NFL. Mike Simpson (PNG) who played for the 49ers, and the other was Pete Lammons (JHS) who played for the NY Jets. Phillips went on to coach in the NFL as head coach of the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints.
Sheffield coached in Jacksonville from 1959 - 1970. The love of sports and an aggressive nature is what brought him to the profession of coaching football. Coach Sheffield came to Jacksonville from Beaumont and moved here with Bum Phillips. Sheffield first became interested in Jacksonville when he and Bum practiced in the Tomato Bowl while playing for Lamar Junior College. Sheffield's philosophy for football was to get kids to go 100% and some more, and let the winning take care of itself. He believed by doing this it would teach young people better work habits. His teams included an 8th, 9th, JV, and varsity. The teams he played included Henderson, Kilgore, Palestine, Carthage, Pine Tree, Center, and Nacogdoches. Their arch rival was Kilgore and the weakest opponent was Henderson. They practiced in the Tomato Bowl; most kids drove their cars to practice, but the school did offer an old army surplus panel truck to take the kids to practice. Coach Sheffield's most memorable year was 1960 when he went to the semi-finals. One time he was able to fly his team to Corpus Christi for $ 2,500. Coach Sheffield help start the tradition of the totem pole.
Coach Canter coached the Indians from 1971 - 1979. The reason he moved to Jacksonville was to be closer to his two sons who were playing football at Texas A & M. He was brought to the profession of coaching by remembering how much his high school coach influenced his life. His philosophy was for kids to enjoy the opportunity to compete and excel in athletics. He felt privileged to work in young men's lives, and cherished going to work every day. The practice field was in the same location as it is now. Under Coach Canter, an odd thing happened one night when Jacksonville was playing Henderson. The lights on half of the field went out - the game continued on the side of the field that was lighted. One of Coach Canter's players, Jerry Aldridge, went on to play for the San Francisco 49'ers.
Coach Shields coached the Indians from 1980 - 1986. He came from a large family of ten brothers and sisters. The only way that he could attend college was to get a scholarship, which he did - in football and basketball. He felt God had showed him a way to be successful in life, and he wanted to help others do the same. He moved to Jacksonville to build a strong athletic program which is the basis of his coaching philosophy. He coached for thirty-nine years and had hoped to coach for another thirty-nine. He believed in order to coach, you have to have a loving family, and good time management skills. His team practiced at the present practice field. One of Coach Shields most memorable year was 1981 when the Indians were picked to finish last in the district. They won district, played Rockwall in the playoffs, and put two 14 year olds in varsity football....James Darby and David Tatum. Other facts during Shields tenure was a season where eleven punts were blocked and nine of these elven became touchdowns. Out of those nice touchdowns, a different player scored each one.
Coach Harlan was head coach from 1987 - 1990. Harlan increased the number of participants in Fightin' Indian Football which was the beginning of the current success of the Tribe.
Coach Long coached in Jacksonville from 1991 - 2003. The love of football is what brought him to the profession of coaching. Jacksonville was his first opportunity to be a head coach. Prior to coming to Jacksonville, he was involved in winning a state championship in Marshall as an assistant coach. His coaching philosophy is to lead young men into their adult life, teaching them character traits of hard work, persistence, and learning to be selfless for the good of the team. He believed that these traits make good leaders for tomorrow. Coaching made him stay young and think young. There were two 8th grade teams, two 9th grade teams, a JV, and a varsity team. His two most memorable years were the 1997 Texas City loss, and the 1998 clenching of the third district championship in a row. He started the tradition of wearing a while button down shirt and a blue Tribe tie to classes on Friday and the pep rallies. He also instituted mandatory drug testing for athletes. Coach Long left Jacksonville to coach in Baytown.
Minyard was the defensive coordinator during the Danny Long tenure. Coach Minyard was selected and hired by the JISD board, but resigned to go with Coach Long to Baytown. He is now retired and enjoying fishing.
Copeland was hired to coach the Indians from April 2003 through February 2008. Coach Copeland returned to Arp to become the High School principal and then the Athletic Director for Whitehouse ISD.
Wells was hired in April 2008 and left in March 2012. He was the Head Coach for Liberty Eylau (Texarkana), retired after a few years ago. He is now retired and enjoying fishing.
Taber was the head coach of the Indians from April 2012 through March 2015. Taber brought the idea of football players wearing their jersey (either home or away) to class on Friday during the season, but then for the player to give their other jersey (either home or away) to one of their teachers to wear for the day. Also during his tenure he had new scoreboards re-placed at the Tomato Bowl, Mauldin Field, and the HS gym. Coach Taber returned to Chapel Hill as the Offensive Coordinator for the Bulldogs and then onto LaVernia to be head coach.
Current Head Coach - Wayne Coleman
Coleman came to Jacksonville in 1991 with Coach Danny Long from Marshall. He left in 1997 to become a Head Coach and Athletic Director. After coaching in Beeville, Ft Worth Brewer, Trinity, and Gilmer, he returned to Jacksonville in 2015.