Roy Lopez’s loyalty to the Marcos de Niza football program paid off this week when he was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach.
Lopez replaces Mike Maluski, who resigned in January to spend more time with his family.
"I’ve always wanted to be a head coach. I’m overwhelmed with excitement," said Lopez, an Apache Junction High School graduate and former offensive lineman at New Mexico Highlands University.
Lopez was a finalist for the Marcos job two years ago when Tom Joseph left for Mountain View. When the school promoted fellow assistant Maluski to the head position, Lopez decided to stay on as defensive coordinator.
Marcos posted an 8-3 record and won the Central Region championship in 2002 but slipped to 4-6 last season.
In addition, Lopez will continue to serve as an assistant coach in wrestling and track and field.
He said he hopes to continue the cooperation between the football and wrestling programs. Eight of the 14 wrestlers on Marcos’ state championship wrestling team also play football.
"Hopefully, the state championships can carry over to football," Lopez said. "We have a great family here. The footballwrestling-track combination is just awesome."
As a former offensive lineman and wrestler, Lopez seems a perfect fit for a school known for its hard-nosed, competitive athletes.
"We have a strong tradition of tough kids. Now it’s time to get down to business," he said.