It's very nearly a brand new (foot)ball game in Mesa

August 7, 2017 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

It's hard to imagine five years qualifying one to be the dean of anything. In today's prep coaching world, not so much.

Especially once upon a time with regard to football coaching in the Mesa school district. At five years served, Skyline football coach Angelo Paffumi is the longevity champion of Mesa schools' football coaches.

Skyline - the youngest of the six Mesa schools having opened in 1999 -- is the most successful school of the lot the last five years. The other five schools (Dobson, Mesa High, Mountain View, Red Mountain and Westwood) are led in 2017 by coaches with one year or no years as head coach at their school. They are, however, mostly veteran coaches with head coaching experience (Pete Wahlheim at Dobson and Mike Fell at Mountain View). Mike Peterson at Red Mountain has assisted at a couple of schools for some time. Ditto Mesa High alum Kap Sikahema at Mesa prior to getting the job. Kyle Ide is the new kid in town, although not new to Westwood as an alum and longtime teacher there.

There was a time Skyline, now almost two decades old, hadn't registered a win over a sister school. Its first meetings with Mesa district opponents didn't take place until 2002. Skyline didn't defeat a sister school until October 2006 when it edged Westwood, 21-20. Skyline recently registered 12 consecutive wins over its Mesa brethern. That streak was snapped last November with a playoff loss to Red Mountain.

Skyline is the only Mesa school without a state football title. Mesa High has more overall than the others having been around nearly a century. The most recent titles secured by Mesa schools - Mountain View (2003), Red Mountain (2001), Mesa (1992), Westwood (1988) and Dobson (1987).


That honor goes to Desert Vista's Dan Hinds, who began his stint in 2002 (15 years served). Hinds is one of 10 coaches in the East Valley at present who have led their programs for five years or more. Hinds is followed by Jeremy Hathcock (11 years, at Desert Ridge); Preston Jones (9 years, Perry) and Steve Campbell (9 years, Williams Field); Norris Vaughan (8 years, Mtn. Pointe) and Brian Walker (8 years, Tempe High); Max Ragsdale (6 years, Campo Verde), Shaun Aguano (6 years, Chandler) and Eddy Zubey (6 years, Higley) and Paffumi (5 years, Skyline). 

In the mid-2000s, five coaches in the East Valley had 10 years  running as a head coach in the area -- Gary Venturo (19 at Corona del Sol), Jim Jones (17 at Red Mountain), Karl Kiefer (15 at Mountain Pointe), Tom Joseph (12 at Marcos de Niza/Mtn. View) and Bill McKane (10 at Mesa High).

Coaches with the longest tenure in the Valley as head coach and the same school reside in the West Valley -- Larry Fetkenhier (Cactus, 33 years) and Richard Taylor (Centennial, 27 years). Dana Zupke (Pinnacle, 14 years) and Scooter Molander (Brophy Prep, 12 years) are notable as well. Success has helped them remain. They are certainly the exception and not the rule in this increasingly crazy era of coaching burnout and turmoil.