Damon Jones had no plans to leave the Community School of Naples and the football program he built into a consistent winner.
Until Riverdale came calling.
“It’s always hard when you love where you’re at to make a change but all the pieces fit and it seemed like the right time for a new challenge for me both personally and as a coach,” said Jones, who was officially introduced Friday as the 13th different head coach in the Raiders’ 44-year history. “Riverdale has a great athletic history, a lot of tradition and a great community. I can’t wait to get started.”
Jones was one of seven candidates Riverdale principal Jerry Demming interviewed for its head football coaching position.
“One of the things that set him apart is his intelligence level; it’s off the charts,” Demming said of Jones, a 1991 graduate of Lely High School who played collegiately at Dartmouth. “He’s got a lot of enthusiasm and he wants to work hard and be a part of our community. He’s going to be a great representative of our program.”
Jones, 40, a Southwest Florida native, spent eight seasons (1995-2002) as an assistant football coach at Immokalee under John Weber, including two as the Indians’ offensive coordinator. Demming said Weber, who was the head coach at Riverdale from 1987-1990, delivered a glowing recommendation for Jones.
“I have a lot of respect for John Weber and he said you can’t beat (Jones), he’s an unbelievably good coach,” Demming said.
“All the references we talked to said he’s the hardest worker around. He went to Community School and built a program to where they do nothing but win.”
In four years with the Seahawks, Jones compiled a 25-15 record, including an 11-1 mark this season, which included a berth in the championship game of the inaugural independent Gulf Atlantic Football Conference.