There have been at least 50 head coaching changes in Arizona high school football since the end of last season.

Let’s look at what I believe are the 10 biggest that will be the spotlight during the 2019 season:

No. 1 Rick Garretson, Chandler Wolves

This actually should be as seamless a change as any you will find in Arizona this season. Garretson, who has been a big part of the reason why Chandler’s offenses have been so strong during its dynasty, was promoted to head coach to replace Shaun Aguano, who left after leading the Wolves to three consecutive 6A titles and four in five years to become the running backs coach at Arizona State. Garretson has almost all of the same assistants back. And Chandler is as well-stocked in talent as anybody in the state.

No. 2 Jason Jewell, Brophy Broncos

It’s a completely clean slate for Jewell, who is embarking on his first journey as a head coach after spending years as a top evaluator of Arizona high school football talent and an offensive line coach at Glendale Community College. He comes into this as the third head coach in three years, replacing one-and-done Jon Kitna, who left to become the Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks coach. But Jewell is surrounding himself with capable assistants, including Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner, whose son E.J., will be a sophomore quarterback. Brophy plays in arguably the toughest region in football, the 6A Premier, which includes Chandler and Gilbert Perry, so it’s not going to be easy. But all good teams start in the trenches, and he’s got four returning talented offensive linemen.

No. 3 Conrad Hamilton, Desert Mountain Wolves

Hamilton served as defensive coordinator at Mountain Pointe last season. He is back in the Scottsdale Unified School District,  where he had his most success as  a coach, serving as DC on two of Chaparral’s state championship teams and as head coach of the Firebirds during their last  most successful season in 2015 when he won nine games. Hamilton is as good  a defensive coach you will find. He is able to get the most out of the talent he has.

MORE: Arizona’s best high school football coaches: Legends of the game

No. 4 Chad DeGrenier, Mesa Jackrabbits

Another school trying to get back on solid footing after three losing seasons. DeGrenier has hopped around since leading Cave Creek Cactus Shadows to a 15-0, state championship season in 4A-II in 2006. He is coming over from Gilbert Mesquite, which made Scott Hare — the last Mesa coach with a winning record — its head coach in the spring. DeGrenier was at Mesa Mountain View before Mesquite. He has brought in some talented assistants who should help the Jackrabbits find success. It will be up to the players and parents to buy in to get the Jackrabbits to the state playoffs for the first time since 2015 when they went 8-4 and reached the quarterfinals.

No. 5 Scott Hare, Mesquite Wildcats

Hare hasn’t led a program since he took Mesa to the state quarterfinals in 2015. He was serving as athletic director at Mesquite, before getting the itch to coach again. He has walked away from his administrative duties to try to get the Wildcats back to the playoffs after missing out the last two years. He has a great quarterback, junior Ty Thompson, to lead the offense. Hare has a good offensive mind so he should get the most out of Thompson, who has major colleges recruiting him.

No. 6 Matt Johnson, Marana Mountain View Lions

Johnson has a state championship on his impressive resume, leading Oro Valley Ironwood Ridge to the  5A title in 2012, beating Tempe Marcos de Niza and Peoria Centennial twice that year. He had an 85-35 record during his tenure as head coach at Ironwood Ridge, so Marana Mountain View is eager to see if Johnson can elevate its program to being championship caliber after years of being on the fringe of greatness.

No. 7 Rodger Schenks, Coolidge Bears

Another coach with a state championship on his resume. In fact, the only state title Schenks won was at Globe in 2002 when his team defeated Coolidge for the 3A crown. Schenks helped out at Chandler Hamilton last year when his son was playing for the Huskies. He showed  how good of a head coach he is when he led San Tan Foothills to as far as the 2A state semifinals, before starting American Leadership-Ironwood’s program in 2015. Coolidge is eager to see if Schenks can take a program went 7-3 under Bill Godsill (now at Mesa Dobson) to a state playoff team in 3A.

No. 8 George Hawthorne, Skyline Coyotes

The big man who once played on the line for the Arizona Rattlers has state championship experience as an assistant at Chandler. A few key players left Skyline after Angelo Paffumi was let go. But those who stayed will find a demanding yet understanding and motivational Hawthorne, who has brought in former Tempe McClintock head coach Matt Lewis to be his offensive coordinator. Lewis was offensive coordinator on state championship teams at Scottsdale Saguaro under John Sanders.

No. 9 Pete Wahlheim, Seton Catholic Sentinels

He is back to the school where he had his most success, from 2001-06. He led the the Sentinels to the 3A final in 2003. Since ’06, he’s been to Gilbert Highland and Dobson. But this feels like home for Wahlheim, who becomes the school’s third head coach in three years. He replaces Mike Chiurco, who left to rejoin Bruce Arians on his Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff. Last year’s team went 8-4, so Wahlheim will be leading guys who know what it takes to win.

MORE: Arizona’s best high school football programs: Making their mark

No. 10 Bob Young, Sedona Red Rock Scorpions

Young keeps coming back to the cooler climate. He spent last season in Scottsdale as defensive coordinator at Notre Dame Prep, where he did a tremendous job, taking a team that had no returning starters back on defense and helping the Saints go 13-1, losing only to Centennial in the 5A final. Young served as head coach for 25 years at Cottonwood Mingus, where he won a state title in 1997 and got the Marauders to the state final in 2005 and ’07. Expect a turnaround in 2A for a team that won a total of six games the last three seasons.

To suggest human-interest story ideas and other news, reach Obert at [email protected] or 602-316-8827. Follow him at

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Arizona’s best high school football programs


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