Two of the most successful high school football coaches of the past decade will be back on the sideline this fall.
Provo’s Tony McGeary and Mountain View’s Louis Wong — who each won state titles at previous schools — have new homes in 2014 and are excited to put their past scandals behind them.
Wong spent seven years at Timpview High from 2005 to 2011, posting a 77-10 record and winning four state championships. He resigned in June 2012 after audits by state officials revealed how money was solicited from boosters and processed by Wong and school officials.
A year later, McGeary resigned from Lone Peak High after similar financial problems arose. In his five years with the Knights, McGeary posted a 51-12 record, including a state title in 2011.
Both Wong and McGeary are taking over programs that have had very little success the past decade.
Mountain View hasn’t had a winning season since a 7-4 record in 2007, while Provo is a combined 1-19 the past two years and hasn’t had a winning campaign since 2009.
McGeary is excited for a fresh start and a unique challenge.
“Excited to start a new season. (I’m) 51-12 coming into a new program and expectations are sky high. We are going to be talented in many of the skill positions and young. Our line will need the most work,” said McGeary.
Wong and McGeary are among 20 new head football coaches in Utah this fall, and certainly the most high profile.
Having 20 new coaches this year falls right in line with the roughly 20 percent annual turnover rate over the past decade. In 2012 there were 32 new head coaches, a state record for offseason turnover.
Six of the 20 coaches have previous head coaching experience. Of those, Granger’s Mike Morgan has the most experience on the sideline. He coached at Riverton in 1998 and then coached at West Jordan from 1999 to 2012. His career coaching record is 70-76.
The other two with previous head coaching experience are Ed Larson (Lehi) and Tyler Gladwell (Davis). Gladwell is serving as the interim head coach at Davis. His only other year of head coaching experience was at Bonnneville in 2012.
Larson replaces David Hastings (who resigned recently after taking the Hillcrest job earlier this year) at Lehi after leaving Timpanogos following four seasons and a 26-27 record.
Mike Grajek had served as Gunnison's new head coach throughout the summer, but he resigned last week. Trent Halliday has been named interim head coach until a permanent coach is named. Gunnison is accepting applications until Aug. 6.
The other 13 first-year head coaches have a variety of playing and coaching experience in both college and the NFL. Clearfield’s Andre Dyson spent seven years in the NFL, but he’s excited to return to his alma mater to try and revive the struggling program.
Here’s a look at the first-year head coaches in Utah:
Billy Nixon (American Leadership), Eric Alder (Ben Lomond), Jan Jorgensen (Carbon), Travis Mehlhoff (Hillcrest), Steve Pearson (Hurricane), Thane Marshall (Milford), Art Adair (Monticello), Rick Wilson (North Sanpete), Eric Thorson (Richfield), Justin Thompson (Skyline), Joe Dupaix (Timpanogos), Scott Ditty (Viewmont) and Eldon Chee (Whitehorse).
American Leadership and Ben Lomond have a different head coach for the fourth straight year.
Of the 103 high schools, only 38 are going on five-plus consecutive years with the same coach.
Despite what seems like a constant coaching carousel at some schools, there are plenty of veterans you can count on seeing on the sidelines year after year after year.
Bountiful’s Larry Wall begins his 30th season as head coach at Bountiful with a career 223-108 coaching record.
Wall has often said that being around young kids’ enthusiasm is contagious, and gets him excited to coach year after year.
“I think most of the coaches played in their day, and there comes a time when you can’t do that anymore and the next step is you coach. You love that electricity and enthusiasm from young kids. It really does your heart good,” said Wall.
Six other coaches have been at it 20-plus years — Cedar’s Todd Peacock (28th year), Emery’s Jim Jones (27th year), Juan Diego’s John Colosimo (27th year), Dixie’s Blaine Monkres (25th year), Mountain Crest’s Mark Wootton (24th year) and Bingham’s Dave Peck (20th year).