Familiar faces, new places: Paul Jacobson adds athletic ditrector duties in Negaunee High School, former AD Andrew Brunette becomes high school principal

Head coach Paul Jacobson works with several of his Negaunee High School varsity football players during the first practice of the season adjacent to the Miners’ football field in Negaunee in August 2016. Jacobson has added roles as the high school athletic director and assistant principal to his duties. (Journal file photo by Steve Brownlee)

“In the sports community I’ve built up a pretty good network of contacts.” — Paul Jacobson, Negaunee High School,

on an advantage he has as new athletic director

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NEGAUNEE — No introductions are necessary.

Not for the new athletic director at Negaunee High School, since just about every Miners student and fan will recognize current head varsity football coach Paul Jacobson.

He’s also been the assistant principal at the Negaunee Middle School, but will now take the same position at the high school.

Head coach Paul Jacobson speaks with his Negaunee High School varsity football players at an end-of-practice huddle adjacent to the Miners' football field in Negaunee in August 2016. (Journal file photo by Steve Brownlee)

All this became effective on July 1, the same day that former high school athletic director Andrew Brunette became high school principal, taking the place of retiring principal Mark Marana.

Jacobson, or Jake as he’s known to so many in the area, is a 1987 graduate of Negaunee High School and played football for the Miners and at Central Michigan University.

His time at CMU led to him becoming an assistant football coach for five years at Mount Pleasant High School, the city that hosts Central, before he returned home and was an assistant coach with the Miners under legendary coach Dick Koski for three years.

In 2000, he took the head coaching reins for the varsity football program when Koski retired.

So this will be Jake’s 20th year coaching this Negaunee team, something he can fall back on as he juggles the AD job and football with preseason practices starting Monday.

Paul Jacobson

“I feel fortunate that I’ve been involved in athletics just about my whole life,” Jacobson said. “In the sports community I’ve built up a pretty good network of contacts.

“And we also have a great group of veteran coaches here at Negaunee High School.”

And as he did right after this interview on Wednesday, he had to just step out of his office to consult with Brunette for any questions in his new AD role.

“Time management, yes, that’s important,” Jacobson said about a key to juggling his three duties this fall.

He will also get help from the person replacing him at the middle school, Lori Bell, who will be middle school AD and the effective high school assistant AD.

Andrew Brunette

He said that the Miners have nine high school teams in the fall when including JV and freshman squads, with the number of teams increasing in winter.

“Obviously I’ve been busy and I’m going to be busy,” he said. “You have to make sure your ducks are in a row.”

And he has a big job in front of him with the resignation of head varsity girls basketball coach Brandon Sager in just the past few weeks. Sager has moved onto a coaching position with the Northern Michigan University women’s basketball team.

“There’s really no time that is ideal for something like that, trying to replace a successful coach like Brandon,” Jacobson said. “We want to get on that as soon as possible with Mr. (Dan) Skewis (the school district superintendent) and Mr. Brunette to try to get the best candidates.”

He’s used his network of coaches around the Upper Peninsula to get some advice from those in a situation similar to his.

“I got a chance to sit down with Mike Berutti recently,” he said about the West Iron County head varsity football coach. “He wears just about every hat at West Iron — he’s the head football coach, the athletic director and the principal.

“So it was great to get a chance to pick his brain. We were talking and we figured the two of us and John Croze (at Calumet) are probably the ‘deans’ of football coaching in the U.P. with all the turnover in the past few years.”

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.