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Sat, Oct. 19

Lashley groomed for Mayer football job

MAYER - Joining Troy Head on the sidelines last season, Rick Lashley had a pretty good idea that he would Mayer's next head football coach.

Head had left the school district as a teacher and was commuting from the Phoenix area during football season. Following Mayer's State championship, he gave the issue more thought and decided not to return.

Lashley, who served as the junior varsity head coach last year, is his replacement.

"What it came down to was I made a decision last year to no longer teach in the district," Head said. "Call it a difference in educational philosophies. Last year, I gave those boys my word that we would see this through. Beyond that, I didn't know. Even though I don't regret any choices I've made, it really put a strain on me and my family."

Lashley said he communicated with Head and the school about the possibility of taking over last year. But he wanted to see Head come back for a run at the State title.

"Rick had been doing our junior high football and we thought it would be good for him to coach JV," Mayer Athletic Director Roland Medina said. "Basically, it would be his group he would inherit, so that was the plan, and that's what we did. It all kind of fell into place."

Replacing a coach who took the team all the way to the top of 1A could be a pressure situation. Lashley, however, said he feels no heat.

"I don't feel the pressure - at least not yet," Lashley said. "We'll open up with Joseph City and that will probably be the game of the year."

Mayer is losing the bulk of its team to graduation. Still, a lot of talent returns and with realignment into the 1A West, the Wildcats should head into the season as one of the favorites.

"The JV lost only two games in the last two years," Lashley said. "I expect us to be competitive in the West with the way it's split up into four regions now. We're also dropping a game in the regular season and will have an extra playoff game. Out of the teams in our league, honestly, I think we can go first or second."

Lashley is just finishing up his third year at the school. He served as the team's varsity softball coach this spring.

Medina will return as Mayer's defensive coordinator.

As for Head, he's taking over an upstart football program at Joy Christian High School in Glendale. Formerly serving only K-8 students, the school is adding a high school. Coincidentally, Joy is a full member of the 1A West, although varsity football will not come on board until 2009.

"We're starting out really small with only freshmen," Head said. "Then we'll have freshmen and sophomores. So it will be strictly JV for the first two years."

Head will return to Mayer this fall when Joy faces the Wildcats in a JV game.

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