Jay Graham, a former player and assistant for Keyport, has been hired as the Red Raiders' next head football coach, the school announced in a press release on Friday.

Graham succeeds John Paczkowski, who resigned earlier this month for personal reasons after two years as head coach.

“Jay Graham is a seasoned coach who has strong ties to the Keyport community and football program,” Athletic Director Kevin Flynn said in a statement. “I would like to thank Coach Paczkowski for his years of service and commitment to Keyport High School and the community. We have confidence that Coach Graham will continue to build on the foundation set by Coach Paczkowski.”

Paczkowski went 9-12 in two seasons, going 6-5 last season and leading the Red Raiders to the semifinals of the Central Jersey Group I playoffs.

Graham was the head coach at Holmdel in 2014 and an assistant at Lakewood last season. He was previously Keyport's defensive coordinator and associate head coach under hall of fame coach Mike Ciccotelli for 12 seasons.

“As a former player of Keyport, it is a true honor and blessing to come back home,” Graham said. “I want to thank the Keyport Board of Education and the administration for giving me this opportunity.”

“Playing football at Keyport High School under Mike Ciccotelli and staff really taught me and prepared me for life in general,” Graham said. “Growing up in Keyport and being part of the football program had and still has a very special place in my heart.”

Ciccotelli was proud to see one of his former players take over the program.

“Jay Graham is knowledgeable, loyal, dedicated and always goes above and beyond for his players,” Ciccotelli said. “He knows the Keyport-Union Beach kid. He will get everything out of them because he knows and loves these two small communities.”

Keyport's hiring of Graham leaves Central as the only head-coaching vacancy in the Shore Conference.

 

Football editor Bob Badders can be reached at badders@allshoremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.