Coaching carousel begins to spin in AZ prep football

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                </div>  We’re just one week into the new year, but the high school football landscape is beginning to re-shape itself for the 2015 season. There will be dozens of new […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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We’re just one week into the new year, but the high school football landscape is beginning to re-shape itself for the 2015 season.

There will be dozens of new head-coaching hires as the off-season progresses, but some of the early moves involve coaches that have been at the same job for many years, providing stability – and, in most cases, a tradition of winning.

Out of the three more high-profile coaching changes, only one is seen as a move to begin a rebuilding effort.

That would be at McClintock High School in Tempe, where that program has been unable to put together a winning record for the past eight years.  Spencer Waggoner will take over that program, which finished 3-7 last season, and brings a resume to the job that includes a college playing career as a linebacker at Utah State University, where he played on scholarship.

The Arizona native went to high school in Tempe, at cross-town rival Marcos de Niza High School, but coached briefly at McClintock once before.  He was the defensive backs coach and also served as the head soccer coach during the 2013-14 season.  Waggoner will bring an emphasis on the defensive game, which will be welcomed by a program that allowed an average of 34 points a game last season.

This coaching hire is the first significant change in a decade under the direction of former coach, Matt Lewis.

Seton Catholic in Phoenix is in a different situation as it gets ready to fill its coaching vacancy.  The Division IV Sentinels ended the 2014 season undefeated and aren’t concerned with rebuilding, but with maintaining the high level of play that enabled them to win a state championship in 2012, when they posted a 13-1 record.  Last year they went 12-1 and 11-2 the year before that, finishing their season each year with a loss in the state semifinals.

Rex Browser, who has been the Chandler school’s head coach for the past seven seasons, had already retired once, after 33 years coaching in Indiana.  He came out of retirement in 2008 to coach at Seton, and now has made the decision once again to step away from the bench.

Down in Tucson, Cienega High School also makes a change that is even more significant.  The Bobcats have had to replace the only head football coach the program has known.  Nemer Hassey has moved into the role of principal of the Vail school, and as a result had to give up his time-consuming role as head football coach.

Their new head coach, Pat Nugent, inherits a program that has advanced to the state semifinals four of the last six seasons and finished last season 11-2.

Nugent moves up to the the head-coaching position from his role last season as running backs coach for the Bobcats.  But the 48-year-old has plenty of experience as a head coach at both the high-school and community-college levels.  In 2008, he took Canyon del Oro High School, another Tucson-area school, to the state semifinals, capping a five-year tenure as its head coach.  Prior to that he was at Flowing Wells High School for three seasons.

He left Canyon del Oro to accept a head-coach position with Pima College in Tucson, which lasted another five years before he decided to return to the high-school game.