ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — La Cueva stayed closer to home this time.
The Bears on Thursday hired former assistant coach Brandon Back, 35, to be their new football head coach.
He has been La Cueva’s track and field head coach the past five years, and was a football assistant under both Fred Romero and Ed Lucero with the Bears. He did not coach football last fall.
“My goal was always to get to the football job eventually,” Back said. “I didn’t think that would ever be a possibility, but the opportunity presented itself, and I decided to throw my name in the hat.”
Back replaces Lucero, who coached La Cueva in 2011 and 2012 before resigning. Back once played for Lucero on Del Norte’s JV, and Back also played varsity for then-Del Norte head coach David Williams.
“Brandon is a fine young kid who is an example of someone who has always been interested in teaching and coaching,” Williams said. “The kids will approve of it.”
Back is a 1995 Del Norte graduate and attended college at Wayland Baptist, where he did not play football. He was La Cueva’s defensive backs and receivers coach under both Lucero and Romero.
“I want to continue the long, storied tradition of La Cueva football,” said Back, who is the special education department chairman at La Cueva. “The La Cueva community brings an expectation that everything will be in excellent shape, and I think it’s in a good spot.”
Back led the La Cueva boys track team to a state title in 2011.
La Cueva interviewed three finalists from an applicant pool of 25, athletic director Larry Waters said.
Rio Grande assistant Mark Danner was interviewed, as was current Centennial head coach and former Manzano head coach, Aaron Ocampo. Ocampo was also a finalist at La Cueva before Lucero was hired two years ago.
Back will not be the only local newcomer in 2013. Earlier this week, Tim Garro was hired to take over Albuquerque High’s foundering program, and Cibola hired Volcano Vista assistant Rod Williams earlier this month.
Interestingly, 10 of the 13 football-playing APS high schools have changed head coaches in the past two-plus years.
Jim Danner of Rio Grande and Derek Maestas of Highland enter their third seasons. Ron McMath of West Mesa, Enrico Marcelli of Valley, Patrick Johnsson of Atrisco Heritage, Chad Adcox of Manzano and Bruce Binkley of Del Norte are starting their second. That leaves only three schools where coaches have any kind of longevity — Kevin Barker at Sandia, Charlie Dotson at Eldorado and Chad Wallin at Volcano Vista.
Two schools also have new girls soccer coaches.
Eldorado has lifted the interim tag on Paul Maestas, and he’ll become the Eagles’ full-time head coach starting in the fall.
Albuquerque Academy’s girls have replaced the retired Pete Clinch with Cole Borgeson, a prominent local club coach. Borgeson was named the Region IV Competitive Coach of the Year in December by U.S. Youth Soccer. Region IV encompasses the entire western third of the U.S.
The Chargers have won the past five Class 4A state titles.
— This article appeared on page D5 of the Albuquerque Journal