2017 High School Football Notes & Nuggets

If you’ve read this weekly feature on a consistent basis you’ll know I preach prep football season never really sleeps here in Arizona. We are just a few weeks away from LOI Day and a couple of months from spring football getting started.

New year, new Arizona high school football notebook.

Here we go…

Building Basha…New head coach Rich Wellbrock is off and running constructing his staff at Basha while still making the daily, hour-long cross-Valley commute with his son Griffin who transferred over this semester to join his dad. The Bears’ new offensive coordinator is Mike Brown who comes over from Red Mountain. Wellbrock named long-time friend and former Millennium assistant Anthony Paterno his new defensive coordinator. The two were on the same staff at Glendale Community College.

“The vibe is good, it’s been very good,” Wellbrock said to Sports360AZ.com of his first couple months at Basha. “It’s the reason I made this monumental shift. From Day 1 I said this is a destination job.”

Wellbrock is optimistic he can build the same success in the heavyweight 6A east Valley conference as he did during his seven seasons at Desert Edge.

New Coach at Canyon…North Canyon, coming off their first winning season since 2012, hired long-time prep assistant coach Airabin Justin to take over for Jose Lucero who resigned last month.

Justin, who was on staff when the Rattlers won the 5A state championship back in 2005, understands the current volume of player limitations he’s facing at NC.

“The numbers are not 100% where we would want them,” Justin told Sports360AZ.com Tuesday morning. “I believe that they will continue to grow…we have a good number of athletes at North Canyon to be successful.”

It will be interesting to see how Justin and his new staff incorporate talented senior-to-be wide receiver Solomon Enis who will be the focal point offensively moving forward.

A Don of A New Era…Mike Olson probably put in more than he got out of his three seasons as the head coach of Coronado. He resigned earlier this week after posting a 16-12 career mark with the Dons. Coronado dressed just 15 players in their season finale against Dysart.

“It was a great three years,” Olson explained to Sports360AZ.com. “Coaching with men who strived to make changes in the young athletes who we were fortunate to love, encourage and teach life lessons through the game of football.”

It wouldn’t surprise me if he lands in some coaching capacity at Arcadia where he has ties. Sounds like Olson’s former quarterback Jay Vanderjagt will continue his playing career at an in-state junior college despite a handful of Division II offers.

Expand the Brand…Saguaro head coach Jason Mohns put the #SagU brand on display last week in San Antonio as one of the coaches on the west staff at the Army All-American bowl. Mohns installed the Sabercats’ offensive scheme during the week of preparations.

“I really enjoyed working with and getting to know the coaches on our west staff,” Mohns said to Sports360AZ.com. “It was a lot of fun to coach the future stars of college football and I look forward to following their careers in the NFL.”

What Can Brown Do For You?…Former Mountain Pointe star wide Jalen Brown announced he plans to graduate in June from Oregon and transfer to another school for his final two years of football eligibility. He would be eligible to play immediately next fall. In 25 career games he tallied 26 catches for 407 yards and four touchdowns for the Ducks who saw their staff overhauled after Mark Helfrich was fired. Heard ASU was made aware of Brown’s intent to transfer weeks ago and Arizona, who he listed as a finalist before choosing the Ducks, could certainly be a potential destination. Matt Lubick, Brown’s receivers coach at Oregon, recently accepted the co-offensive coordinator’s position on Matt Rhule’s staff at Baylor.

Leaving On A Jet Plane…It’s crunch time for a number of players who will be making their college decisions in the coming weeks. One of those is Desert Edge’s Roshaun Johnson who will be taking official visits to NAU and Idaho this weekend. Later this month he will visit Air Force. I’ve got a pretty good hunch on this one.

A Valley native, Eric has had a passion for the Arizona sports scene since an early age. He has covered some of the biggest events including Super Bowls, national championships and the NBA and MLB playoffs in his near 20 years in local media.