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