Prep football: Jessen ready to take control of Westwood football program

ISHPEMING – John Jessen doesn’t mind one bit he was the second choice as the new Westwood High School varsity football coach.

“I don’t begrudge the district going after a coach (Bernie Anderson) with collegiate experience,” Jessen said Wednesday. “I didn’t feel I should be in the same hat with him.”

Jessen applied for the job, as did Anderson, a former Michigan Tech University and Northern Michigan University head football coach.

Jessen then withdrew his name from consideration. But when Anderson was offered the Westwood position, he withdrew in hopes of obtaining an administrative job with the Ishpeming school district, according to WHS athletic director Jon Beckman.

WHS officials then went back to Jessen, who took the job. He’ll formally be hired at an upcoming NICE Community Schools Board of Education meeting.

“It feels great,” Jessen, 31, said. “I’ve been an assistant coach (at WHS) the last three years and now, I’ll be able to try something new and take a shot at head coach.

“I have a lot of time invested in this program and want to see it continue.”

The 2000 Kingsford High School and 2005 NMU graduate, who teaches industrial tech at WHS, describes himself as a coach “who identifies well with the kids.

“I’m not a yeller, though I like to keep a tight ship,” Jessen said. “I think kids react positively to my style of coaching.”

He said he learned a lot working with former WHS football coaches Jim Marana and Beckman.

“A lot of the things we did, we did the same in dealing with kids, setting a good example and getting kids to play for you,” Jessen said.

He has yet to select a staff to assist him, but is already looking forward to the season.

“We’ve graduated a lot of talent, so we’re going to be young,” Jessen said. “We may be junior-heavy, but we have some exciting players coming up.”