— Jim Adams, who had been with the Vikings football program since 2008, resigned last week.
When former assistant Jim Adams accepted an offer to become Northeast High School’s head football coach last year, he spoke of his desire to bring a league title back to the school, and to one day even take the Vikings to the state playoffs.
As it turns out, both were short-lived visions.
Adams resigned earlier last week after just one season, telling the Northeast Times that he stepped down due to personal reasons. He went 7-5 (2-3 in league play), falling to eventual Public League champion Frankford in the postseason semifinals. Adams’ final memory as Northeast’s coach will be a lasting one, as the Vikings won their annual Thanksgiving game against Central for the eighth consecutive year in a 14-12 thriller. Following his victory, his players treated him to a celebratory Gatorade bath.
“The reason I resigned … there’s just some personal things going on in my life right now to the point where I’m unable to provide the time and energy that’s necessary to being a head coach,” Adams explained. “It’s a 12-month a year commitment.”
Adams will continue with his teaching duties, as well as serving as Northeast’s head JV baseball coach this spring. Before taking the top football job, he had been an assistant football coach at the school since 2008.
As an assistant under former head coach and current athletic director Chris Riley, Adams won a Public League championship in 2010. A 1987 graduate of Pennridge High School in Bucks County, Adams played football at Kutztown University until reconstructive knee surgery ended his playing career. After he graduated in 1992, Adams began teaching in the Philadelphia School District in 1993.
Adams was left “stretched thin” by all of the added responsibilities that come with being a head football coach in such a demanding market, soon discovering that being the man in charge is much more time-consuming than being an assistant.
“There just wasn’t enough time in the day, so I felt it was best to step down,” he said.
When asked if he’d potentially be interested in returning as an assistant on the next football coach’s staff, Adams said probably not.
“I think I’m going to take a little break,” he said. “I have three sons of my own … two play football, and one is a senior at Pottsgrove High School. I got to a couple games last year, but I felt bad that I wasn’t there for him. As coaches, you have to decide where your priorities are. At this time, I’d rather my top priority to be my own kids.”
Now, Riley and Northeast’s administration are left with the task of finding a new coach, as the Vikings will open their third consecutive season next fall with a different football boss. As they did last year, Northeast will first see if anyone in the building is interested in taking the job (Adams’ assistants included offensive coordinator Dave Davis, defensive coordinator Warren Cosby and position coaches Joe Blee, Seth Shapiro and Derrick Johns). If not, they’ll cast the net out to other candidates in the region and district.
One name to keep an eye on could be longtime Germantown High School head coach Mike Hawkins, who will be without a job when the school closes at the end of the academic year. Hawkins has decades of experience coaching in the Public League, and his Bears program plays within the league’s Gold Division, same as Northeast.
The head coaching process will eventually take care of itself; in the meantime, Riley said he wanted to thank Adams for his years of service to the Northeast football program.
“Jim is a very understanding, nice and caring individual,” Riley said. “When push comes to shove, he’s just a person who really cares about the kids. He did the best he could, and I was excited for him when he took on the added responsibilities of being a head coach. But sometimes circumstances happen in life, and being a parent and teacher can be very demanding.”
Riley was also asked what type of candidate he and the school would be looking for.
“I think we always like to look for a Northeast guy if we can, but really we want someone who is education-first, football-second,” he said. “Whoever we hire will strive to stress academics to the kids, because we want to get them into college. It’s something every school should do, but I don’t always think that’s the case. We really enforce and demand that of our kids. Beyond that, we just want someone with a great work ethic, someone who cares for the kids and someone who will be tough, but fair.”
And while Adams said he is comfortable with his decision to walk away, he said he’d miss getting to know the athletes more as individuals outside the classroom.
“You get a chance to know these kids on more of a personal level, so there’s more camaraderie to be built than there is in class,” he said. “You spend time on the bus with them, or bond with them before and after games and practices. You see them in a different light.”
As someone who still is a part of the Northeast High family, Adams hopes to see the program return to prominence. Northeast has won just two league titles in the past 28 years, and area rivals Washington and Frankford have captured the last two.
The Vikings will lose a lot of senior talent, namely quarterback Daquan Bohannon, two-way standouts Shimeek Carter, David Pulliam (an Eastern Michigan University signee) and Devon Dillard, linebacker Shahir Gates and lineman Bernard Houston, so it won’t be an easy climb back up the mountain.
Pulliam’s younger brother, Anthony, wideout/DB Jonathan Diaz (both juniors) and sophomore Rushawn Grange (the team’s leading rusher with 540 yards) are a few names the new head coach will have to work with later this fall.
“They’ll reload,” Adams said. “Seniors graduating is something that happens every year, which opens up opportunities for the younger guys. Hopefully they seize the moment and take advantage of the chances they have. Anything is possible.” ••
Sports Editor Ed Morrone can be reached at 215-354-3035 or firstname.lastname@example.org