JEANERETTE — Fulfilling a desire to return home, former New Iberia Senior High standout Ananias Johnson was appointed the new football head coach at Jeanerette Senior High Monday by principal Heath Hulin, pending approval from the Iberia Parish School Board.
Johnson, who played at NISH before competing collegiately at Grambling, was an assistant football coach under former JSH head coach Zeb Simon in 2005 before spending the last several years at Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock.
“I wanted to come back home and get back into the community,” said Johnson. “I have family and friends in Jeanerette and my mom worked at the Head Start Center in Jeanerette for more than 20 years. I coached at Jeanerette Senior High before I left to go coach at Fort Valley State University.
“I wanted to come back home and raise my son. Since I graduated high school (in 1996), I haven’t been back home except for one year, the year I was assistant coach at Jeanerette.”
Even though Johnson graduated from NISH, he lived just about five minutes from Jeanerette off Neco Town Road and since he attended Grand Marais and Peebles schools, he feels at home coaching in Jeanerette.
After graduating from Grambling in 2001, Johnson spent three years at DeRidder High School, then went back to Grambling for two years as a graduate assistant while working on his masters degree. After a stint at Ruston High, he spent a year as linebackers coach, basketball and softball coach at JSH before going to Fort Valley State in Georgia for a year. He then headed to Arkansas Baptist, where he was defensive coordinator and assistant head coach for the Buffaloes.
He also spent last summer as an intern with the Houston Texans and was offered an internship this summer with the Oakland Raiders.
Johnson replaces former JSH head coach Terry Lewis, who resigned in May for health reasons.
“Coach Lewis was battling health issues and he decided to move back to Memphis to be closer to his family,” said Hulin. “Coach Johnson is young, energetic and will be dedicated to the squad. He’s not afraid to go and tackle something that needs to be done.”
Hulin also likes the fact that Johnson had been an assistant coach at Jeanerette before and understands the players and the community.
“He has high school and collegiate experience and brings a lot of expertise to Jeanerette,” said Hulin.
Hulin also explained that Johnson will handle head football coach duties, and former Franklin assistant coach Jack Franks II will take over athletic director duties at JSH. Franks also will be an assistant football coach and baseball coach.
“I felt I was called to come here,” said Franks, who has coached at Abbeville High, North Central High and Port Allen High. “After talking it over with my wife, I felt that this was too good a position to pass up. I hope to get the athletic program here at Jeanerette running again. It’s been on a downward turn and I feel that we can make it a solid program again.”
“I split the positions (football coach and AD) up because coaching football is just about a year-round job,” said Hulin. “This lets Coach Johnson concentrate on football and we have a good athletic administrator now to handle AD duties.”
Hulin said that he expected Johnson to bring back the excitement for Jeanerette football as well as getting the kids to give that commitment to JSH.
Johnson wasn’t sure what offense or defense he would be installing at Jeanerette, saying that he wanted to see and work with the football players before deciding what would best suit the personnel. But he also emphasized that he planned to be at JSH for the long run.
“This is where I want to be, this is where I want to raise my son,” said Johnson. “I’m fully committed to turning the football program at Jeanerette around."