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Posted on Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 5:30 a.m.

New Pioneer coach Jari Brown looks to emulate success of his last stop, Chelsea

By Kyle Austin

Jari Brown’s attire was black, with an accent of Pioneer purple. But as his team competed in a pair of 7-on-7 games Wednesday night, he couldn’t help but drift to the other side of the stadium a few times to reconnect with some people wearing Chelsea blue and gold.


Jari Brown coaches during his time at Huron High School.

Ann Arbor News file photo

Brown left Chelsea in February when he was hired as Pioneer’s new football coach, following four years on the Bulldogs staff.

And one of his first offseason stops brought him right back to Chelsea High School Wednesday night, where Pioneer was one of eight teams in a session of the annual Chelsea Passing League.

“It’s good to be back here,” Brown said. “I had a great four years out here and really learned a lot from coach (Brad) Bush and everybody else on staff. It was just great to come out here and reconnect with those guys and be a part of this.”

The teams played two, one-hour games of seven-on-seven -- a chance primarily for quarterbacks and receivers to work on routes and timing, and for defensive backs to practice pass coverage. Teams are allowed seven different seven-on-seven sessions during the summer, before official practices begin next month.

Pioneer will participate in four this week, making for an important stretch in a transition to a new coach.

“The offseason’s huge for us, just because we have a new system on offense and defense, and the coaching philosophy and getting used to the new coaches,” Brown said. “So this offseason is very important. As soon as I got the job in February, we felt like we were a little behind, but we’ve been really hitting our stride here in the offseason.”

As he transitions into his new job, Brown said he will draw on his four years at Chelsea under Bush, who is entering his 17th year and has built the county’s most consistent program, having made the playoffs 14-straight years.

“Coach Bush runs a first-class program, and if we can come somewhat close to what he’s doing, we have a chance to be really good,” Brown said. “A lot of things that I’ve learned and am emulating right now is things that I got from coach Bush.”

Bush said Brown came to Chelsea in 2009 after five years at Huron, with aspirations of becoming a head coach. And while Bush’s top assistant positions have remained largely the same throughout his tenure, Bush said he was happy to see an assistant move on to an SEC head coaching job.

“He’s a good communicator, kids respond to him,” Bush said. “I think he has a passion for the game. But I think his greatest asset is that he has a unique ability to communicate with all kids, and communicate with parents, and that’s such a big part of what we’re doing.”

But even after a chance to learn under one of the area’s best coaches, Brown still knows it won’t always be easy as he tries to mold Pioneer into a program as consistent as Chelsea.

“I’m a young coach and I’m still learning,” Brown said. “I tried to take in as much as I could when I was learning under Brad, but when he was a young coach I’m pretty sure he didn’t have everything figured out. And some things that work for him in Chelsea just doesn’t work for me in Ann Arbor, so I’m just doing trial and error throughout.”

Kyle Austin covers sports for He can be reached at or 734-623-2535. Follow him on Twitter @KAustin_AA.



Mon, Jul 15, 2013 : 7:53 p.m.

He'll do fine.

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 6:49 p.m.

It's just a game where kids are supposed to have fun and learn something. Some parents take it far too seriously. Like they are re-living their high school days.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 2:42 a.m.

Brad, this is Pioneer football, not U of M.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 10:39 p.m.

Brad PTA - No high school sport funds the majority of any high school program in Ann Arbor. If you split the general fund money that is given to the athletic fund it comes out to more than $850,000 per high school + sinking fund money for field maintenance, and facilities maintenance + general fund money for overtime for custodians and other staff, call it a cool $1,000,000 per high school. The TOTAL ticket revenue from ALL sports in ALL high schools is $100,000 according to the budget. Parking at Pioneer for the UofM football games is worth more than all the sports put together when it comes to ticket prices. So as you see - no sport funds the program. If you are talking about the top 20 percent of colleges, then you are right, but not Ann Arbor high school ball.

Brad PTA

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 7:21 p.m.

Unfortunately that is no longer true. Football and mens basketball fund the majority of a school sports program these days. On top of that, alum's don't donate to schools with losing sports programs


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

If I was a Pioneer player or parent I would be concerned that he is still "learning" and doing things "trial and error". We should expect more from our HEAD coach. Pioneer has a rich history. Believe it or not, even richer than Chelsea. And thats not a knock on Chelsea. Just saying Pioneer football has a strong lineage and should expect more from their leader. Might be why some kids have departed.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 2:41 a.m.

If PiHi won't give the HC a job in the building they'll never consistently be able to attract a top notch head coach. The will to hire a proven winner isn't there unfortunately.

Kyle Austin

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 5:54 p.m.

I think arguments can be made for both sides here. There's value in hiring an experienced coach, but that's easier said than done. If he's on the job market, then there's probably a reason for that that makes him less than ideal. Experienced coaches in stable programs aren't likely to jump ship. On the other side, while there is uncertainty in inexperience, good experienced coaches have to start somewhere, and if you can hire the next Brad Bush then you're set for a while.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 5:49 p.m.

Pioneer has State Championships in their history. Its been a while but they have a couple. Again, Chelsea has a great program and Bush is a proven winner. Pioneer deserves a proven winner with HEAD coaching experience.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 5:32 p.m.

A VERY good point. A school like Pioneer should be trying to hire an experienced HC, like Bush, himself; not the assistant. Pioneer should not be the "testing ground" for those with unproven ability. My guess is, is that Bush continues to remain confident about he selection - which should tell you something.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

Chelsea under Bush, who is entering his 17th year and has built the county's most consistent program, having made the playoffs 14-straight years.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 1:42 p.m.

Too bad Huron let him go.