Fryer: Football openings create a lot of interest


The Trabuco Hills football coaching job is the best of several that are open in Orange County.

The Mustangs will have several returning starters in 2014, including All-County receiver Jacob Breeland and four others who were All-South Coast League in ’13.

Next season Trabuco Hills moves from the South Coast League, in which Mission Viejo and Tesoro annually are clearly the two best teams, to the Sea View League and likely will be the Sea View’s preseason favorite. Also, the South Coast has belonged to the Pac-5 Division, the most-challenging football playoff division in California. Sea View playoff teams have played in the mid-level Southwest Division (leagues could find themselves in different football playoff divisions in 2014).

Trabuco Hills principal Craig Collins reported this week via email that applicants include current head coaches at private and public schools. Forget about ex-Santa Margarita coach Harry Welch coming out of retirement one more time to coach at Trabuco Hills; “Have your lost your mind?” was his reply when asked if he was interested.

But another coach with a couple of CIF championship rings has interviewed for the Trabuco job: Tony Henney from Nordhoff of Ojai. Henney coached the public school to CIF championships in 2012 and ’13. Nordhoff lost to Corona del Mar in the CIF State Division 3 Regionals last month.

Being interviewed does not mean a coach is ready to move on. Henney might be settled at Nordhoff, his alma mater, and is only being inquisitive.

Henney’s resume, which includes being named this week the California Coaches Association Southern Section football coach of the year, is impressive and he came off as very personable when we spoke before and after the Nordhoff-Corona del Mar game. He would be an excellent hire at Trabuco Hills.

Trabuco Hills this week had to interview candidates from within the Saddleback Valley Unified School District before interviewing those from outside the district later in the week. Collins said it is hoped that a name would be presented to the district school board Tuesday, but he is willing to delay the selection if necessary.

Northwood and Marina also are in the market for football head coaches. The Marina job is a tough one; the Vikings struggle year after year in the Sunset League. George Pascoe resigned after the 2013 season in which the Vikings went 0-5 in league for the ninth straight year.

The Northwood job became open when Rick Curtis departed to take the Santa Margarita position. Northwood athletic director Eric Keith said via email that the school still is accepting applications and would begin interviews within the next two weeks.

The hiring of Curtis was an interesting one at Santa Margarita. Curtis was 75-75-3 at Northwood where he has been the coach since the school opened in 1999. Northwood was 3-7 in 2013.

Some high-profile names, like former Orange Lutheran and Canyon coach Jim Kunau and ex-NFL quarterback Rob Johnson, an assistant under his mega-successful father, Bob Johnson at Mission Viejo, were in the running.

Welch was 27-11 at Santa Margarita, which won CIF section and state championships during his four years there. He is the only coach in California football history to win state championships at three schools, and has won nine CIF-SS championships. One could make a strong argument that Welch is the best coach in Southern California high school football history.

Welch likes to get what he wants for his football program, which sometimes created friction with school administration at Santa Margarita and at his previous schools, St. Margaret’s and Canyon of Canyon Country. He produces championships and headaches in nearly equal amounts.

Curtis is a more easygoing fellow. Santa Margarita wanted a football coach who would be in tune with the school community and its programs like campus ministry, and they got that with Curtis. Bob Ladouceur was that sort of coach at De La Salle of Concord, where his teams won 28 section and five state titles.

Santa Ana Valley also has a football coaching change, and how that opening occurred is not pleasant. Larry Mohr, the school’s coach the past seven years, said he was told to resign or he would be fired; he chose to resign. Mohr said he was not given reasons for these orders.

Valley principal Patrick Yrarrazaval said via email that Mohr told school administration on opening day of the season that 2013 would be his final year as the Falcons coach then revoked his resignation when the season ended.

“After further consultations with many members of our school community,” Yrarrazaval wrote, “I decided to go forward with a different coach, and a new direction. I asked Coach Mohr how he wanted me to proceed, and he stated, firmly and unequivocally, with (Athletic Director) Terry Orabona present, ‘I resign.’ With that he left my office.

“I recognize that some people may say that Coach Mohr was ‘forced’ to resign, but for the record, I do not concur with that perspective.”

Yrarrazaval said the school has received 30 applications for the football job and hopes to announce the next coach early in the coming week.

The football offseason is almost as busy as was the season itself.

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