Jim Jones heard a lot of “Why?” and “Are you crazy?” from his large family (among others), but it went in one ear and out the other.
The man who built Red Mountain from its inception in the late 1980s is back in charge, this time as Mesquite’s new football coach.
His departure in 2010 after 23 seasons at Red Mountain – where he won two state championships and made two semifinal appearances - wasn’t all sunshine and roses. Frustrated and a little bitter, he figured being an assistant somewhere would get back into coaching kids without all the other pressures and hassles of being a modern-day high school football coach. So he joined his friend Rodger Schenks at San Tan Foothills for the past three years.
It was free of burdens and paperwork and all the extraneous duties having nothing to do with football or X’s and O’s, but it wasn’t enough.
“I’ve been telling my wife because she’s concerned about the time and effort and how I am,” he said. “Heck, it was hard for me (not being a head coach) as much as I enjoyed not having the responsibilities. I missed it.”
So after 40 years of doing this at various levels across Arizona, he’s doing it for a few more. At Mesquite - a program he followed closely when Mike Reardon was in charge - he has the built-in experience, knowledge and understanding of what athletic director Jason Grantham and administration is looking for. After all, Jones coached Grantham through the latter’s high school football and baseball at Red Mountain.
Now that Grantham kid is Jones’ boss, which drew chuckles from him.
“They want the same thing I want, a winning program and positive kids and that’s what it’s all about," Jones said. "I think it will be. I’m not going to go recruit kids and hang out at Pop Warner games. It’s going that way in coaching and I’m hoping that’s not going to happen here. We’re playing with our community kids and that’s the way it’s going to be, win or lose.”
Jones will teach physical education full-time at Mesquite next fall. Meanwhile he had to resign at San Tan Foothills so he can be at Mesquite a couple hours most days while his kids do weight training. His plan is to keep a majority of the assistants from the past two seasons under former coach Matt Gracey, though a couple changes are likely coming.
“I’m stepping into a good situation with a nice varsity and JV group,” he said. “I’m feeling good about this. I think it’s going to be a real good fit for me. They are workers and good, respectful kids.”
“I’m fired up.”
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at email@example.com or (480) 898-6576.