High school football: Several veteran coaches at new schools

Published: Sunday, July 24 2011 11:00 p.m. MDT

Photo by Scott G. Winterton/Deseret Morning News.

Scott G. Winterton, Dnews

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Being a high school football coach is no easy task, a big reason why roughly 15-to-20 percent of the high schools in Utah go through a head coaching change each year.

The turnover rate heading into the 2011 season follows that trend, but the quality of some of the veteran coaches who are at new schools is noteworthy.

Fred Fernandes won three state championships at Northridge and then successfully turned the Woods Cross program around. His next challenge is rebuilding Roy, his alma mater, which hasn't had a winning season since 1991.

"I feel confident we'll be able to make a difference," said Fernandes. "It might take some time, but I'm willing to put in the time."

Les Hamilton and his glossy 74-30 career record is now at Hunter after winning a pair of state titles at Alta.

Steve Coburn was a head coach at Snow College for five years, but now he's bringing his expertise down to the prep ranks at North Sanpete.

Tyler Anderson, a former BYU player and Tooele coach who led the Buffaloes to a state title in 2002, is back in Utah as a head coach for the first time since 2003 as he takes over the reigns at Orem, his alma mater.

"It's always been a dream job to come back here and coach at Orem where I played," said Anderson, who was a head coach in Florida for four years and an assistant at Westlake most recently.

Two other very successful coaches are back in the head coaching fraternity.

Randy Johnson spent 15 years at Clearfield before resigning in 2005. He's now the new head coach at Bonneville after spending several years as an assistant at Bountiful. Aaron Whitehead is the new head coach at Olympus after a successful 5-year run at East ended in 2007 so he could pursue his master's degree at BYU.

Of the 101 high school football teams in the state, 16 are under the direction of new head coaches this season. That turnover rate is slightly more than last year's 14 coaching changes — the fewest in the past eight years.

The highest turnover rate was in 2005 when 24 schools were under the direction of new coaches.

Of the 16 new head coaches, 10 will be first-time head coaches.

Those first-year head coaches in Utah are: Alta's Bob Stephens, Ben Lomond's Don Kenyon, Diamond Ranch's Robbie Dias, Granger's Alex Gehrke, Hillcrest's Casey Miller, Lehi's David Hastings, North Summit's Devin Smith, Tooele's Kyle Brady, Wasatch's Craig Davis and Woods Cross' Nick Longshore.

Despite what seems like a constant coaching carousel at some schools, there are still plenty of veterans you can count on seeing on the sidelines year after year after year.

Among them is Skyline coach Roger Dupaix, who amazingly is entering his 35th year as a head coach in Utah (239-70 at Skyline, 55-38 at Highland). He has 294 career victories, and will likely reach No. 300 sometime in October.

Seven other coaches are at the 20-year coaching threshold — Bountiful's Larry Wall (27th year), Cedar's Todd Peacock (25th year), Emery's Jim Jones (24th year), Juan Diego's John Colosimo (24th year), Dixie's Blaine Monkres (22nd year), Mountain Crest's Mark Wootton (21st year) and Salem Hill's Monte Morgan (20th year).

Two long-tenured coaches have stepped aside since the end of the 2010 season.

Ray Groth resigned as Tooele's head football coach following his third year at Tooele and 22nd as a head coach in Utah. His all-time record is 119-114.

North Summit's Jerre Holmes also left the coaching ranks after 22 years as he was named the North Summit School District superintendent earlier this summer. He leaves behind one of the most impressive resumes in the state with a 145-96 record between Ben Lomond, Rich and North Summit and five combined state championships.