Rich Wellbrock has officially been named as the new head coach at Mountain Pointe.
The hire comes after former Pride head coach Norris Vaughan resigned in mid-December after nine seasons. Vaughan led Mountain Pointe to three state championship appearances, one of which resulted in the title in 2013.
“It’s a unique opportunity because of the area and what Coach Vaughan has been able to build,” Wellbrock told Sports360AZ. “From an outsider’s view it’s right place right time. I’m very excited and happy to be leading that program.”
Wellbrock comes to the Pride after spending one season as head coach at Basha. Before Basha he spent seven seasons at Desert Edge where he led the Scorpions to a 74-16 record and a state title in 2014.
Mountain Pointe is a run-based program known for having solid lineman. The Pride’s style of play is one that Wellbrock is familiar with from his tenure at Desert Edge.
“It’s hard-nosed running football,” Wellbrock said. “The pieces that they’ve had and the history of the lineman and how well coached they’ve been, it’s a fit for me and my style of coaching.”
Wellbrock became familiar with 6A during the 2017 season at Basha.
“Every week is a dog fight,” Wellbrock said. “There’s no easy opponent each week and the coaching is so good. It’s all about the preparation you put in for the 48 minutes each week.”
As for the difference between coaching in 4A to coaching in 6A, Wellbrock said the biggest difference is the depth of players the schools have.
“You have to have kids ready to go,” Wellbrock said. “I think the biggest thing between the conferences are the (first teams) are pretty good in each conference.”
The biggest thing that Wellbrock said he will take away from his year with the Bears is “stick to your vision.”
“What you know, what you’ve learned, from my experiences, as well as my mentor, sometimes you go astray from that,” Wellbrock said. “It’s that grind though, it’s that jumping up and making sure the kids are prepared after a tough loss.”
By Greg Macafee AFN Sports Editor | January 23, 2018
The Pride have found the new leader of their pack.
Tempe Union High School District officials announced Tuesday they would recommend that the governing board approve Rich Wellbrock as the new head football coach at Mountain Pointe High School.
“We are excited to welcome Coach Wellbrock to Mountain Pointe High School,” Principal Bruce Kipper said in a release. “His wealth of experience, success at the state level, and working in diverse school settings tells us he is the right guy for our school community.”
The next governing board meeting is Feb. 7 and an agenda has not yet been set, so it is unclear if formal action on the recommendation will occur then.
Wellbrock has been around the Arizona high school football scene for several years, with an overall coaching record of 93-48. He has coached at Tolleson, Desert Edge and most recently, Basha high schools. He only spent one year at Basha, compiling a 2-8 record in the 2017 season.
Before last season, Wellbrock headed the Desert Edge football program from 2010-2016 amassing a 75-14 record, including a state championship in 2015, when the Scorpions defeated No. 1-seeded Paradise Valley in the Division III state championship, 29-27.
In 2013, Desert Edge also set a state record for team passing yards in a season, but also fell to Queen Creek in the 2012 Division III state championship.
During Wellbrock’s state championship run, Desert Edge’s running game was phenomenal.
It set a new state record for team rushing by running for 5,046 yards and 69 touchdowns on 654 carries. Desert Edge also had four different rushers over 500 yards and two over 1,000 yards.
Behind Jakim McKinney and Gary Bragg, the Pride rushed for 3,801 and 45 touchdowns this past season. Wellbrock will see the return of a strong starting running back in McKinney, who led the Pride with 1334 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Wellbrock will have big shoes to fill at Mountain Pointe, as he’ll be taking over for longtime head coach Norris Vaughan, who retired to move back to Georgia to be closer to his family. The Pride also captured a state championship in 2014 as a part of an undefeated season.
Mountain Pointe is coming off a 10-3 season, and it fell to Brock Purdy and the Perry Pumas in the 6A state semi-finals.
Former York High football coach Eric Lauer got an up-close look at Penn State’s football operation before the Fiesta Bowl. And he came away impressed over the other teams he’s seen over the years. Here, he poses with the bowl mascot, Spirit.
Frank Bodani, email@example.comPublished 1:00 p.m. ET Jan. 1, 2018 | Updated 9:49 a.m. ET Jan. 2, 2018
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — At the end of the final practices of the season, the Nittany Lion coaches pushed their running backs and receivers through a well-worn, mundane drill one last time
They were trying to make them fumble then, so they wouldn’t during the game.
It was a simple and yet powerful message to the players.
It also was one to a former York High football coach who was watching every moment of that workout last week leading up to the Fiesta Bowl victory over Washington. Eric Lauer, a former Bearcat player and then head coach, was talking about the behind-the-scenes secrets to Penn State’s success.
The bowl season is one of the best times for coaches like Lauer, who has lived around Phoenix for the past decade.
He’s now the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach here at powerhouse Mountain Pointe High. Each December he and the other prep coaches in the areaattend team practices leading up to the Fiesta and Cactus bowls.
They get to meet the college staffs and observe and learn.
It’s all about developing relationships and helping improve their own systems.
And Lauer said he was a bit surprised at James Franklin’s operation. He said it was the most efficient and well-organized of any school in the seven or eight years he’s been watching teams come to town.
He said the difference was in the little things, the details. No wasted minutes. The never-stop, upbeat body language. And the willingness to continue drilling well-worn fundamentals at the end of the season when time is precious.
Like that ball security drill, something Lauer doesn’t remember other schools working on like that during bowl week.
The Nittany Lions, by the way, set a school record by losing only three fumbles all season. They fumbled only eight times overall, though two did come in the Fiesta Bowl after not playing for a month.
The Penn State Nittany Lions are reaching out to the Scottsdale community during Fiesta Bowl week. And they’re doing it with kickball. Selected players had fun Wednesday with local kids with cancer and other serious illnesses. Frank Bodani
Saquon Barley, for example, did not fumble over his final 21 games, covering 377 carries.
The Lions also were one of the least-penalized teams in the nation.
“It’s something you kind of think as a coach, ‘Let’s spend time doing something else.’ But they’re doing to do it because of how important it is.
“Sometimes we blame the kids (for mistakes in games), but are you really coaching up what you want to see on the field? If you don’t want the ball on the ground you’ve got to practice that.
“It was just the attention to the small stuff and everybody being hooked up and locked in to what was supposed to happen. You could see it and you could smell it.”
Lauer said he had no previous connection to Penn State beyond watching the program on TV while growing up or through former teammates and friends who went there. He had never met Penn State coaches, never attended their football camps.
He knows other staffs better, like the Washington Huskies and USC Trojans, because they recruit Phoenix regularly.
He was impressed with Penn State’s urgency and enthusiasm — things missing at times from other teams. He said the continual positive energy Franklin and his assistants show their players during practice and before the Fiesta Bowl can resonate much deeper than most realize.
Lauer said he saw the reinforcement throughout, from hugs and handshakes and pats on the back. There were one-on-one teaching moments. There was yelling and whistle-blowing but no cursing.
Every staff member was “up on his toes, bouncing … running the entire practice,” Lauer said.
“You could tell these were things they were doing for a while. This wasn’t a show.”
He said it was almost as if the players were searching out those interactions.
“It was like, ‘It’s game time, I get my hug.’ It’s coaching from love, not coaching from fear. And when I get that I’m going to just play that much harder for you.
“When you’re coaching in love, in accountable love, there’s nothing greater.”
Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver Saeed Blacknall (13) reacts after a score during the 47th PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on Saturday, December 30, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. Billy Hardiman, Billy Hardiman/Special for azcentral sports
It’s always been great covering Coach Norris Vaughan and the Mountain Pointe Pride. Yearly, the squad is feared, admired and among the best in Arizona.
Vaughan is the one who deserves credit for building the program. In his nine years on campus, the squad made the playoffs every year, including three finals appearances and won the state title in 2013 going a perfect 14-0.
In the last six years, Vaughan posted an amazing record of 71 and 10. The man knows how to coach!
But Vaughan wants to be closer to his family in Georgia, so he recently stepped down as Mountain Pointe’s Head Coach.
Vaughan told me he loves Mountain Point and the people have been good to him, but it’s time for a new challenge. He will be sorely missed as the coaching search is underway.
Vaughan is a vibrant guy with a lot of energy and even though he is retiring from coaching in Arizona, he won’t say the “R” word because he has the wheels in motion.
Vaughan told me he is talking to several high schools about potential coaching jobs in the Atlanta area. He has to stay busy, because Vaughan is not one to just sit around, he has to stay active.
In his nine years at Mountain Pointe, Vaughan did more than just win games. He instilled discipline and toughness with the bigger picture in mind. He wanted his players to be battled tested and be the best they could possibly be for their lives. For me, personally, I will miss the Georgia native. He was great for Mountain Points and high school football as a whole.
Arizona’s loss is Georgia’s gain as Vaughan leaves as one of the sports’ greatest ambassadors and leaders.
It was supposed to be a quick jaunt up the road to McClintock High to figure out some of the logistics of Mountain Pointe’s semifinal game against Red Mountain.
All went well so Pride associate head coaches Eric Lauer and Aaron Frana and athletic director Mike Griffith headed back to Mountain Pointe.
The trip became so much more shortly after leaving the school parking lot as they came upon a truck upside down on the sidewalk near the intersection of McClintock Dr. and Southern Ave. just after an accident.
“Coach Lauer saw the truck first and said we had to help,” Frana said. “We got out and ran over to see what we could do.”
They stopped in the middle of McClintock. Frana and Lauer came up to the vehicle along with two other adults who were nearby while Griffith made the 911 call.
The driver was still in the vehicle, but was pinned in the vehicle, which was leaking gas. The two coaches and the other men pushed the pick up truck so it was upright and the man was OK.
“We didn’t do anything you wouldn’t do,” Lauer said. “The guy was OK. He had a prosthetic leg, and couldn’t get out the way it was. He had his seatbelt on so he was stable when we flipped it back to the right side.
“He was kind of in shock. The other guy really clipped him and flipped him over. He was pretty lucky.”
So many others just drive by slowly figuring someone else would help or make the 911 call, but they had the gumption to do something.
“It was a flashback to another time when I stopped and the driver was ejected, and didn’t make it” Lauer said. “It’s reminder of how quickly things like this can happen. Car accidents like this make you feel so violated because you are supposed to be safe in your own little bubble. When you see something like that you just want to help anyway you can.
“It’s the principal of paying it forward. Someone does something good for you and in return you do something good for someone else.”
The idea: Have a coach write an article on what he would change about high school football if he were king for a day.
I immediately thought of Phoenix Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan, who is as opinionated as they come on matters like transfers, enrollment-based classification and concussion issues. I asked Vaughan to take on any subject matter he wanted.
He and I may disagree on a lot of things – including his response here – but I appreciate his passion and respect his opinion.
“The past ten years of Arizona High School football have been its best! Arizona has been recognized on the national stage and continues to improve each year. I commend the AIA on their efforts and am encouraged about the future of our game! The recent change to the transfer rule seems promising and I have seen great improvement in all aspects of the sport.
I do have a few suggestions that would further advance Arizona High School football. If I were King for a day, I would allow athletes to practice in shoulder pads and helmets during spring football practice. One issue all coaches face is inadequate time to train our athletes on proper blocking and tackling technique. Offensive players would then be able to train on our sleds to teach proper blocking technique, posture, hand placement, and head positioning. We would also be able to train half speed blocking drills to teach proper technique within our offensive system.
Defensive players would benefit greatly from more field time with pads to teach form tackling. Head placement, shoulder placement, and alternative tackling methods must be practiced with pads! Half speed tackling drills will allow players to repeat these techniques to reduce injury and improve our game.
NFL and college programs reportedly have reduced head trauma with fundamental training for blocking technique. These organizations are allowed more offseason padded practices, which reduces injuries. Also programs such as heads up football and Seattle Seahawks rugby style tackling have documented successes on injury prevention. Coaches and athletes alike need repetitions to perfect their craft.
Realizing injuries are part of athletics; I feel that more padded spring practices will reduce the number of injuries in Arizona High School football. My goal is to create a more skilled player and one that is better equipped to safely block and tackle.”
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