Mesa Westwood opened in the early 1960s and its football tradition is strong and steady due in great part to a long line of talented, dedicated coaches.
The coaching ball has been handed off this season to Eddy Zubey, a former graduate assistant at Arizona State and an assistant most recently at Tempe McClintock.
Zubey is energetic and exuberant in attacking his first head coaching post. But he faces perhaps the toughest job in the local area and perhaps the most rigorous rebuilding job in school history — inheriting a program that fashioned a 12-1 record last season and 9-2 the year before that.
Greeting him are zero returning starters. Only a handful of 2005 lettermen are back. The sophomore and junior classes that comprised the junior varsity and junior team were a combined 5-6-2. How do you spell daunting?
‘‘When I got the job I heard the kids had a reputation of being tough and hard workers,’’ Zubey said. ‘‘After seeing things so far, I’m impressed. They are tough and they love to hit.’’
Zubey did a test run during the summer, scheduling a mandatory workout at the same time every day for every player. No excuse was acceptable. Zubey’s participation goal was 92 percent. The team responded with 86 percent.
‘‘That established commitment, and that level included kids that were out of town on vacations,’’ Zubey said.
In addition to a lack of varsity experience, Westwood’s schedule is one of the toughest of any school in any classification. The Warriors face defending Central Region champ Phoenix Mountain Pointe, defending state champ Phoenix Brophy, playoff qualifier Phoenix St. Mary’s and Chandler.
“I was looking at Barry Sollenberger’s magazine the other day and it listed the top 15 teams in 5A,’’ Zubey said. ‘‘We play seven of the top 10. That’s good. I want to play the big dogs.
‘‘(Chandler Hamilton coach) Steve (Belles) and I have talked about scrimmaging each other the next two-year block. Those are things that are good for our program.’’