Eastside Catholic announced April 30 that former Washington State University quarterback Jason Gesser will be the new head football coach for the Crusaders.
“You look at it, and it’s a dream job,” Gesser said. “I look at it as the premier job in the Northwest.”
Gesser, 29, was the quarterbacks coach at Federal Way High School in 2006 and the offensive coordinator for Franklin Pierce High School in 2007. He is also the president and founder of Jason Gesser Elite Sports, which runs a variety of football camps throughout the Northwest.
“It’s always been in my blood,” Gesser said, of coaching. “Even when I was playing I was always holding meetings with teammates.”
Sheldon Cross, who is the head coach of Interlake High School and coaches with Gesser at the Elite camps, thinks he’s the perfect fit.
“Jason is without a doubt one of the top offensive minds there is,” Cross said. “He has a vision to create a dynasty there at Eastside. Jason will certainly always have them prepared on Friday nights, and I think we can expect to see the Crusaders in the (Tacoma) Dome very quickly.”
Gesser replaces Bill Marsh, who stepped down at the end of the March, after 15 years as an Eastside football coach. He was the head coach from 1999 to 2008. Gesser met with his new team last Thursday, and wanted to make things clear to his players.
“I think it’s kind of a weird situation for them,” he said. “They love and respect (Marsh) so much. I’m just going to try and let them know there won’t be 100 percent change of everything. We’re going to try and build on what he started.”
Eastside Catholic finished 10-2 last season and won its first Metro title since 1993. The team graduated 31 seniors, but Gesser said he wants to keep the momentum rolling.
“I’ve got to get them to realize that 31 guys or not we’re a returning champ, we’ve got to like act like it,” he said.
Gesser would like to implement his offensive scheme as soon as possible. The plan of attack will depend personnel, but he certainly has ideas.
“I really believe that we’ll probably be in a one-back system and opening the field up — having a balanced offense with the run and the throw,” Gesser said.
Gesser’s knowledge of the game runs deep, primarily as a product of what he did on the field. He is the only player in WSU history to be elected team captain three years in a row and finished seventh in the 2002 Heisman Trophy running, while sharing Pac 10 Co-Offensive Player of the Year honor’s with USC’s Carson Palmer. Gesser played two years for the NFL’s Tennesse Titans. He also played in the Canadian Football League, and most recently played for the Utah Blaze of the Arena Football League.
Gesser currently lives in Puyallup with wife Kali and two children. On top of his new coaching duties, he said he will also remain as a color commentator for Fox Sports Northwest on the weekends, noting it’s always exciting for his players to see him on TV.
“Jason’s proven record of success, both as an athlete and coach, will benefit our student-athletes and our community,” said Eastside Catholic President Jim Kubacki. “As the product of a Catholic high school, Jason’s character, determination and values are a great fit with how we approach everything we do at Eastside Catholic. We are thrilled to have him join our team and continue to build on the great success our football program has enjoyed for the past 15 years.”