ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — After a down year in 2022, the Aquinas football team will look to turn things around this season. The Li’l Irish will have to do so with many new faces including at head coach.

Aquinas hired Maurice Jackson to be their 20th football coach in school history. Jackson is also the first African-American head coach to lead the program.

“It means a lot,” said Jackson. “I’d be lying if I said it didn’t mean a lot to be the first head coach of color here at Aquinas. I’m extremely proud to here not only for the school but for the culture.”

The first-year head coach is very familiar with the Section V scene. Jackson played at Marshall high school in mid-1990’s where he enjoyed a stellar career. He then parlayed his high school success into a football scholarship to attend Syracuse and play for the Orange.

Jackson also spent time in the NFL playing for the Buffalo Bills. He was inducted into the Section V Football Hall of Fame earlier this year.

“I’ve taken a bunch of stuff from coaches that I’ve played for,” said Jackson. “It’s been a blessing to have the coaches that I’ve had. What I’ve taken from them is my attention to detail and I’ve transferred that to my players. They see how much of a stickler I am to the small details and that’s the only way to play the game.”

Freshman quarterback Trent Buttles said it’s a benefit to have a coach who had career on the gridiron like Jackson.

“He’s a great coach,” said Buttles. “He’s got a lot of knowledge for us. Him coming here was a big improvement for us. We just got to listen to him because he’s been in those situations before.”

Aquinas will kick their season off with a stiff test against UPrep on Friday, September 1st at 6pm.