“What was I thinking?!”
That question surely has popped into Scooter Molander‘s thought process as he begins another week of practice in preparation for the third game on the 2020 schedule. His Eastmark High School team is 0-2 to start the season and has been outscored so far, 83-6.
Molander, whose given name is Andrew, is starting over again as a football head coach. New school. New football program. New headaches.
But it’s unlikely that anyone is feeling sorry for him.
That’s because Molander has already had his day in the sun. He took teams to the state playoffs 11 times in the 12 years he was the head coach at Brophy Prep. And he won two state championships at that all-boys Catholic school in central Phoenix.
He resigned from Brophy following the 2017 season to deal with major demands on his time as he cared for his long-divorced parents who were in failing health and living in separate states. No one knew for sure when, or if, Molander would return to coaching.
Last Friday was his first game as the head varsity coach at Eastmark High School, a school just opened in southeast Mesa, in the Queen Creek district, and experiencing its first season as a varsity program. It opened last fall with just freshmen and sophomores.
That means there is no seasoned leadership to bring along the younger players still learning the game. There are no seniors on this year’s squad.
With that in mind, the 41-6 loss at the hands of Pusch Ridge Christian Academy in the season opener two weeks ago should not have been a surprise. Pusch Ridge is an established program that won a state championship in 2015 and was the 2017 runner-up.
The Lions ran all over Eastmark in that season opener, piling up 456 yards of offense and running up a 41-0 advantage before the Firebirds scored in the final minutes on a seven-yard pass from Gianni Masculino to tight end, Javery Mayberry.
And Friday’s 42-0 blowout at the hands of Bourgade Catholic High School was not totally unexpected. Bourgade has now shut out both of its opponents by a collective 70-0 tally.
Things won’t get much easier this week when Eastmark hosts American Leadership Academy (Gilbert North) in the conference opener. ALA is 1-1 and averaging 35 points a game.
But, looking down the road, there appears to be a brighter future ahead for Eastmark. Masculino is a sophomore and Mayberry is a freshman. Their best years are yet to come.
But that’s little comfort right now, as Molander wonders what his young team will have to go through to get to that first win.