Clements named new JHS football coach

Published 9:20 am Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Van Clements, the former defensive coordinator for the Jemison varsity football team, has been appointed as the new head coach for the 2015 season.

Van Clements, the former defensive coordinator for the Jemison varsity football team, has been appointed as the new head coach for the 2015 season.

Van Clements is no stranger to Jemison football.

It was no surprise when Clements, a 2005 Jemison graduate, was appointed as the new Jemison High School head coach May 16 after holding the defensive coordinator position for the past four years.

Clements took on the duties of head coach in February when former coach Jake Hogan left the program, but the title was made official last week.

The 28-year-old is a physical education teacher at Jemison High School and began his assistant coaching career under Brad Abbott in 2010.

Clements said there are definitely advantages to being familiar with the program as he takes on the head coaching position.

“Having played on Jemison’s football team, I know the amount of pride that the program was built on,” Clements said. “I want to get us back to that.”

As a former quarterback, and then a former defensive coordinator for the Panthers, Clements has experience in both the offensive and defensive sides of the game.

“I really want to focus on playing good defense,” Clements said. “We will focus on being as physical as we can and having a lot of strength in our line of scrimmage. That’s our strong point right now—we have a lot of big guys on the line. Our offense won’t have to work so hard if we have a good defense.”

The Panthers have recently finished spring training and are scheduled to begin summer workouts in the upcoming weeks.

According to Clements, the offseason workouts will consist of mostly strength training and conditioning in preparation for the physical aspect of the game.

“We need to get our bodies ready to handle four quarters of competitive play,” Clements said. “We condition to make sure we’re not giving out in the middle of the third quarter.”

The first-year coach is prepared for the pressures that come with changes in the program, and said he has learned a lot from his former coach and mentor, Brad Abbott.

“I played for and coached under Coach Abbott, and I plan to treat my players the way he treated his,” Clements said. “He respected the kids and also held them to a high standard. He cared about winning, but he mainly wanted the kids to be successful in life. For eight years, he put winning teams on the field, and loved and cared about his players, and I want to continue that tradition.”

In addition to developing good athletes, Clements hopes to instill life skills in his players as well.

“My first priority as a coach is academics,” Clements said. “We need players who are disciplined in the classroom as well as on the field.”

To Clements, a “powerful” football team is one that can keep the score down with good defense, and take advantage of offensive situations when they arise.

Having seen what does and doesn’t work for the program, he plans to use that knowledge to build a winning team for the upcoming season.

“I’ve had a lot of support from people here,” Clements said. “I want Friday nights to be fun for the Jemison community.”