With the recent addition of a state championship winner, there are seven new head football coaches in the metro area this fall.
A look at the seven (listed alphabetically):
Joe Anaya, Moriarty
Anaya is one of four newcomers – Rio Grande’s Pat Quillen, Menaul’s Gus Brock and Bernalillo’s Trent Spencer being the other three – who have previous head coaching experience in New Mexico.
Anaya, 46, coached Albuquerque High from 2006-10, and he was the coach the last time AHS won a game, in the 2010 season opener. He takes over for Bob Allcorn, who left to become the head coach at Bloomfield. Anaya had been coaching quarterbacks and linebackers in Moriarty the past couple of seasons.
“I learned from a great head coach,” Anaya said of Allcorn. “I’ve got a solid foundation coming in.”
Anaya has some bling to his name; the St. Michael’s and New Mexico State graduate got three rings while serving as an assistant coach at Mayfield under then-coach Jim Bradley.
“I never went in there planning to be a head coach again,” Anaya said. “But when it opened up, I put my name in the hat to see what happens.”
Gus Brock, Menaul
If this name sounds familiar, it should. Brock coached Menaul, then an 11-man program, from 1982-1997. He led the Panthers to the Class 2A state championship in 1991.
He has been retired for the last two years, but Menaul needed help in a pinch when Jeff Strohecker resigned about 10 days before the start of official practices. Menaul frantically tried to find a replacement, and finally reached out to Brock, who is 78.
“They needed a coach,” Brock said.
Menaul was ready to coach by committee if it couldn’t find a full-time replacement.
“It’s a lot different,” Brock said of his home surroundings at Tomlinson Field where the Panthers play home games.
Brock’s son, Eric, is the head football coach at Santa Fe Indian School.
Strohecker said he left to become an assistant coach at Cibola.
Curtis Flakes, AHS
If the Bulldogs were looking for a man with tough, thick skin, they hired the right person. The amiable Flakes, 32, is a cancer survivor and in 2011 was involved in a motorcycle accident that nearly took his life.
He is a former New Mexico Lobo, and he has arguably the toughest gig in the state. AHS is in the throes of a state-record 39-game losing streak, has finished 0-10 for three consecutive seasons, and Flakes is the fourth Bulldogs coach since 2010.
“Call me crazy,” Flakes said, “but I don’t think of it as stepping into a tough job. Football is what I’ve been doing my entire life since I was 6 years old. It’s less of a challenge and more of an opportunity to get some good experience and work with some great kids. It’s an opportunity for the kids to get back on track, for lack of a better term, and get the program back to where it needs to be.”
Flakes played defensive back and receiver for Rocky Long from 2000-04. He is a native of Lufkin, Texas, and has a handful of seasons coaching at Manzano under Aaron Ocampo and Chad Adcox. He did not coach last season as he battled a form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, which is in remission.
He thought about applying at AHS last year, but his cancer diagnosis precluded an attempt.
Pat Quillen, Rio Grande
Quillen was Foothill’s head coach the past five seasons and guided that program into the 8-Man championship game in December.
“I’m in it for the long haul,” Quillen, 40, said about Rio Grande. “This isn’t a steppingstone for me. This comes right after my faith and my family on my priority list.”
Jim Danner resigned as coach of the Ravens after a 1-9 season.
“I’ve grown up in Albuquerque,” Quillen said. “I’m a West Mesa grad, so I know the kid at Rio Grande. I know the kid of the South Valley. These are good families, good kids, hard-nosed workers. To be honest, I’ve wondered what the struggle has been on the football side.
“I know the potential is there. I know the resources are there. There is a winner there. It’ll take the right coaching staff to give them confidence and direction.”
Quillen said that if Foothill, with its imprisoned athletes, can achieve big things, then Rio Grande certainly can. And the Ravens sporadically have fielded some excellent teams over the past quarter century.
“When you can be successful at a jail, with kids who are incarcerated with rival gang members,” Quillen said, “then there’s nothing I think that can’t be done. They are tough kids in the South Valley.
“It’s just a matter of time, in my opinion, before we win,” he added. “I firmly believe this can be a long-term thing where Rio Grande is competing every weekend.”
Trent Spencer, Bernalillo
For the 45-year-old Spencer, the Spartans will be his fourth stop as a head coach. He also coached Wingate (2003-07), Laguna Acoma (2008-10) and 6-Man Vaughn (2012-13).
“I wanted to get back to 11-man football,” he said. “It’s really that simple.”
The Spartans – led by Ken Noel for eight seasons before he stepped aside – have struggled of late. They were 3-7 last season.
“I didn’t know a lot about ’em. I do know the potential is there,” said Spencer, who hails from Pittsburg, Texas, in the northeast part of the state. “When I was at Wingate, the year before I started, they were 0-10, but I was 5-5 in my first year and we made the playoffs in three years.”
He was 22-8 at Laguna Acoma in three seasons, then worked in 2011 as the defensive coordinator in Grants.
Spencer did not play college football. Instead, he said, he took a rodeo scholarship. He certainly sounds enthusiastic about being with the Spartans.
“I’m really excited,” said the folksy Spencer, who hopes to raise the number of athletes in the program. “I have a lot of energy and a lot of new and exciting things to work on. And I am probably the best cooking coach they’ve ever hired. Darn sure the best barbecuer they’ve ever hired.”
Terrell Trantham, Los Lunas
Of all the newcomers, perhaps none faces more pressure than Trantham.
Not only is he the youngest head coach in the metro area – he got the job on his 29th birthday – but the Tigers are a white-hot property. They were in the state finals in 2012 and lost a close semifinal last season – both times to Goddard.
“I think the age thing will be something people will question initially, maybe when things aren’t going as people want,” said Trantham. “But I feel the 10 years I’ve had coaching are pretty valuable.”
Trantham is a 2003 Belen graduate who served the past two seasons as the Eagles’ defensive coordinator under John Lerma. Trantham replaces Duane Toliver, who resigned.
Trantham is the third coach in three seasons for the Tigers. “I imagine the kids are wanting some consistency,” he said.
Trantham began coaching in 2005 in Las Cruces and spent two years on Mayfield’s staff in 2005-06.
“I think winning breeds high expectations,” he said. “It’s great to come into that situation.”
Stacy Washington, Highland
The affable Washington has his hands full. The storied Hornets program is coming off a 1-9 campaign – one of the worst teams Highland has ever fielded.
Washington, 37, takes over from Derek Maestas, who resigned. Washington is a former teammate of Brian Urlacher’s at the University of New Mexico. Washington was a linebacker. He also played in Germany for a couple of years.
He could use a few Urlachers on the Hornets’ defense, which surrendered a jaw-dropping 536 points last season. In five games, opponents scored at least 60 points.
Washington has seven years of service on Highland’s football staff, first under Gary Sanchez and then Maestas.
“I’m excited as can be,” Washington said. “I love Highland, and this school felt like home as soon as I started coaching here.”
Washington was in charge of Highland’s defense, and he acknowledged its shortcomings, but believes that area will improve vastly in 2014.
“We were young,” said Washington, who is from Kerens, Texas, just south of Dallas. “That’s never an excuse, but we were super young and inexperienced. This year, we have more maturity, and we’ve got a lot of older, more mature veterans. We’re not a small team anymore.”