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By Mike Wilson 

Photo courtesy of Ray Hamill/ 

Newly hired Franklin High School football coach Jamal Jones didn’t make the move from the Northern California coast with coaching foremost in mind.

“The move to Portland was to move my family to the Portland area,” Jones, 30, said. “That was the reason why we were moving up to Portland. It wasn’t because of a specific coaching job. This was a family move.”

Jones is a police officer by vocation, and he jumped at an opportunity to work for a department that he said values its employees. Football, he said, had nothing to do with his departure from the Arcata High School head coaching job.

“The job of being a parent is what got me out here,” Jones said. “Give my (family) a better life, a life that was more suitable for our lifestyle.”

But, “I’m a ball coach,” Jones added. “We were waiting for that right opportunity to come do the job I love to do at a place where there’s support of the administration and it wants to do things at a high level.”

Jones earlier was a candidate for the head coaching job at Grant High School in Northeast Portland. Among the Portland Public Schools officials Jones met during the Grant hiring process was assistant district athletic director Diallo Lewis.

Jones said when the head coaching job at Franklin in Southeast Portland came open several weeks after the Grant hiring process ended, Lewis encouraged him to apply. This time, after going through the A-to-Z application process again, Jones got the nod.

Jones succeeds Jesse Thompson, who himself was a summertime hire two years ago. Thompson left Franklin to coach in a fledgling professional developmental football league. The Lightning were 7-8 under Thompson.

Jones said being a coach and a police officer go hand-in-hand and that he doesn’t think he’d be a police officer if he weren’t a coach. He said he wants to be what so many of his mentors were to him.

“That’s my passion — helping young men develop into men, and helping them develop into high-character men,” he said. “It’s not one or other. They coexist for me.”

Jones was head coach at Arcata — on the California coast about 100 miles south of the Oregon border — for five seasons with a record of 30-22, according to MaxPreps.

Jamal Jones photo Ray Hamill :

In 2021, Arcata was the second seed in the seven-team North Coast Section Division 6 Championship. Arcata advanced to the semifinal game, which it forfeited on account of COVID-19 protocols.

The timing of Jones’ hire prevents him from having a full preseason cycle, but he rejects that as a crutch.

“The objective is to go out there and win,” he said. “The objective is to go out there and be successful. The objective is to push our kids between now and September, when we (play) Gresham. Our objective is to get better every single day so that when we get to that spot, we have no excuses for not going out there and getting the job done.”

He said he expects to change some things schematically but didn’t single out any specific phases of the game.

“We’ll live with the results based on we’re going to put (an incredible amount) of work in in the next month,” Jones said.