Phoenix Mountain Pointe football coach Phil Abbadessa stepped down this week from his post atop the Pride program after three seasons on the job.
Bruce Kipper, Mountain Pointe’s principal, said the position will be advertised beginning this week and that the administration hopes to have a coach in place in time for spring football practice.
“We appreciate everything Phil has done for Mountain Pointe and the (Tempe Union High School) District over the past 28 years,” said Ian Moses, Mountain Pointe’s athletic director.
Abbadessa, who will remain as a teacher and physical education department chair at Mountain Pointe, was the second football coach Mountain Pointe has had since the school opened in 1991. He will also retain his position as junior varsity baseball coach, Moses said.
Reached via e-mail, Abbadessa, confirmed his resignation but declined to comment further, citing a need to tend to personal family matters.
He followed in the footsteps of his mentor and former coach, Karl Kiefer, three years ago.
Abbadessa had been an assistant and defensive coordinator to the legendary coach for 26 years while Kiefer posted several of his 308 career victories at Tempe McClintock and later Mountain Pointe.
Abbadessa had also played football for Kiefer at McClintock before continuing his football career at Mesa Community College and California Lutheran University. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Arizona State University.
The news hit Kiefer hard this week.
“I’d heard some talk but I was trying to block it out,” Kiefer said. “He’s a good man and a good teacher and was a great coach for me.”
The Pride had an 11-19 record over the last three seasons under Abbadessa and struggled during that time in the Central Region where they were 1-9 and hadn’t won a conference game since beating Tempe Marcos de Niza in 2006.
Mountain Pointe’s football program was plagued with injuries this season, including the fourth game of the season when three starters were taken out of the lineup.
Running back De’Andre Currie, quarterback Austin Lahr and defensive leader Ryan Noble, a starting linebacker, were each sidelined for at least one game.
The Pride also lost six potential contributors before fall practice.
Senior quarterback Brandon Cluff and tight end/linebacker Lyle Blummears transferred to Laveen César Chavez while freshman wide receiver/running back Davonte Neal also chose to attend Chavez, despite growing up in Mountain Pointe’s attendance boundary.
The Pride also lost senior wide receiver/running back Markus Wheaton, and defensive back Kresean Reed, who transferred to Chandler High.
Cluff threw for 2.063 yards and 19 touchdowns while playing for former Phoenix Desert Vista coach Jim Rattay at Chavez this fall, and Blumears caught 21 passes for 393 yards and four touchdowns. Neal caught 44 passes for 608 yards and seven touchdowns.
While playing his senior season at Chandler, Wheaton caught 37 passes for 736 yards and four touchdowns and ran 304 yard for another two touchdowns. Reed carded 44 tackles, two sacks, and five interceptions for the Chandler defense.
But during his three years as head coach at Mountain Pointe Kiefer said his former assistant went by the book.
“He played by the rules, that’s the thing,” Kiefer added. “Some kids took off and left him and went to other schools. That really hurt him this year.”
It turned out they left at a bad time.
“They had the second toughest schedule in the state this year,” Kiefer added. “The sad thing is that next year we have a little softer schedule and he’s had a couple of good years with JV (junior varsity) players coming up.”
Through a realignment of conferences beginning next season, the Pride will be moving out of the Central Region and will compete in the Pima with schools such as Casa Grande, Mesa Westwood and Mesa Skyline, Chandler Perry, Tempe Marcos de Niza and Mesa Desert Ridge.
Mountain Pointe is expected to have 20 juniors from this season returning including Currie and Davon Jones, two of the top running backs, as well as quarterback Austin Blom.