Gilbert Highland football coach Preston Jones accepted an offer Monday to become the coach at one of the East Valley’s newest schools, Perry High in Chandler.
“I hate to leave Highland, but this is the best opportunity for my family in the long run,” Jones said. “Getting to start a program from scratch was something that interested me.”
Jones, who was offered the job on Friday, informed Highland and his players of his decision to leave Monday morning. His hiring is pending a signature on a letter of intent today and would be made official Tuesday night at a meeting of the Chandler Unified School District governing board.
Jones, 34, has been varsity coach at Highland since 2002, posting a 27-28 record. In his last three seasons, Highland enjoyed winning records (9-4, 7-4 and 6-5) and qualified for the playoffs each year. The Hawks reached the 5A semifinals in 2004 and are one of only two Fiesta Region schools to defeat Chandler Hamilton this decade in regular season play.
Jones met with Chandler district superintendent Camille Casteel last Friday to discuss the job after he was one of the last of 10 candidates to be interviewed. Jones returned to Highland Friday afternoon to meet with Gilbert district personnel, who were trying to persuade Jones to stay at Highland. Interviews for Perry were conducted the middle of last week.
Jones played high school football at Mesa Red Mountain for his father, Jim Jones, from 1988-90. Preston Jones played collegiately at Tennessee Martin in Knoxville, Tenn., where he was an all-conference defensive back. He has also coached football at Tempe McClintock High and at Red Mountain as an assistant.