Longtime assistant Phil Skinner is the new Dana Hills head football coach.

Skinner 'ecstatic' about taking over at Dana Hills


Dana Hills didn’t have to look far to find its newest head football coach.

Athletic Director David Georgia announced April 16 that Phil Skinner, who has served numerous roles with the program since 2007, has been named the program’s football coach. His hiring became official April 22 when it was approved by the Capistrano Unified School District.

Skinner, 44, replaces Todd Rusinkovich, who resigned during the offseason. In his four seasons as the Dolphins coach, Rusinkovich had a 13-28 record and led Dana Hills to the playoffs once (2013). The Dolphins were 1-9 last season, 0-4 in the South Coast League.

“We’re very glad to have him,” said Georgia. “He’s excited to lead the football program, and we’re excited that he’s excited to do it.”

Skinner is the fifth coach at Dana Hills since 2006, following Scott Orloff, Armando Gonzalez, Brent Melbon and Rusinkovich.

“I am absolutely ecstatic,” said Skinner. “I have a vision of what this program can be, and I know this program can be one of the finest in the state.”

Georgia said there were 10 applicants for the job, but he only interviewed two.

“Both applicants had never been a head coach, but what separated Phil, from my standpoint, was that he talked like he was a head coach,” said Georgia. “He came to the interview with a direct plan of what he was going to do (at Dana Hills). He had a great interview, and that’s what sold it for me.”

Last season, Skinner was the program’s varsity and junior varsity assistant head coach, varsity and junior varsity offensive line coach, and the program’s strength coach. He has been on the teaching staff at Dana Hills since 2007 as a special education teacher.

Before joining the Dolphins’ staff, Skinner served as an assistant at Villa Park for 11 seasons. In those 11 years, the Spartans reached the playoffs nine times and were league champions seven times.

He first began coaching at Orland High, near Chico, where he graduated from college at Chico State. The 1989 Orange High graduate played football for the Panthers, earning all-league and all-CIF accolades. He later went on to play at Rancho Santiago College and at Chico State, before turning professional and playing for the Brisbane Centurions in Australia.

Skinner said he didn’t think about being a head coach until recently.

“I had been focusing on my life; getting married, having kids. ... I didn’t want to take that whistle until I knew it was perfect,” he said.

Skinner said he wants to bring “fun back to the program. I want the kids to know what it’s like to be enthusiastic about playing football at Dana Hills.

“We’re going to have a good coaching staff that will breed infectious enthusiasm and teach the kids to love the game. We’re going to take steps to win every day. And we’re going to win, and that starts today.”

Skinner said his first responsibility has been to hire a coaching staff. In the two weeks he’s been on board, he’s hired 11 coaches to bring the staff up to 16.

“We’ve hired coaches who have great character and are great human beings,” said Skinner. “We want our kids to not only be good football players, but great men who will become great fathers and husbands. Family is very important to me.”

Skinner met with the team and the booster club for the first time Tuesday, and is planning a combine for this Saturday, before beginning spring practice on Monday, and preparing for the annual Air Strike Passing League Tournament on May 30.

“I’ve got a lot on my plate in a short amount of time,” he said.

On the field, Skinner says he will employ a “fast” offense and an aggressive defense.

“We’re going to speed things up on offense and be defensively sound,” he said. “I believe in K.I.S.S.: Keeping It Simple and Sound. We don’t want kids confused ever. We want them to know their assignments and be aggressive with those assignments.”

Skinner said despite last year’s struggles, he believes the dolphins can compete immediately.

“We’re not in an awful boat,” he said. “We don’t have the Mission Viejo numbers, but that doesn’t matter to us. We’ll play with our 11 and feel great about it.”

Skinner lives in Dana Point with his wife of seven years, Somer, and their two children, Stella, 3, and Zane, 8 months.

Contact the writer: 714-796-2247 or

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