Joe Germaine became the coach of the Queen Creek football team in February of this year.
He certainly had the name recognition after starring at Mountain View, beating Arizona State in the 1997 Rose Bowl for Ohio State and playing in the NFL.
But his coaching resume was light.
Germaine worked as the quarterbacks coach at Basha from 2004-2007 and helped out at Mesa Community College, but did little else as he continued to play in the Arena Football League.
If there were questions about Germaine’s readiness to guide a team, they seem to have been answered through the first five games of the season.
The Bulldogs are 4-1, including a 49-42 triple-overtime victory over 4A-II No. 1 Glendale Cactus on Friday. The Cobras are defending state champions and were coming off a victory against Saguaro the week prior.
The only loss of the season for Queen Creek came to 4A-I No. 1 Tucson Canyon del Oro.
“Our kids do a good job of trying to execute our system, and they work hard,” Germaine said.
Germaine got his start in coaching under then-Basha coach Tim McBurney, when the pair met up on a Saturday and talked football.
“He was constantly giving us pass routes and plays that were completely new to me,” McBurney said. “His knowledge was amazing.”
There was little doubt Germaine could run an offense, but being the head coach is much more than that. Once Germaine got the job, McBurney told him to find a good defensive coordinator and line coach, to realize how much extra pressure and responsibility that comes with the head coaching title, and to focus on the kids, because that’s what the job is ultimately about.
“He’s obviously handling it pretty well,” McBurney said.
Germaine replaced Curt LeBlanc at Queen Creek, a coach that had led the team to seven straight postseason appearances, so it could have been a bumpy transition.
“Whenever there is something new, there’s an adjustment,” Germaine said. “But from that very first day, I was impressed with (the players). They’ve always been very coachable. I’ve been nothing but happy with what they’ve done from the very beginning.”
Quarterback Adam Brzeczek and running back Chim Nga are the most recognizable names on the team. Brzeczek is a third-year varsity starter and Nga has excelled in the backfield after averaging fewer than six carries a game there last season.
But beyond the impact of those two, Germaine has been pleased with the contributions from a variety of players. The coaching staff has stressed to the team that there is always an open competition for playing time.
“We’re evaluating everyone all the time,” Germaine said. “If they make plays, they’ll earn the right to perform.”
Germaine said he has gotten more comfortable coaching as the season has progressed. He uses knowledge from his assistants — longtime E.V. coaches Don Kramer, Mark Swartz and Fred Clare — and the tidbits he gained during his playing career to put together practice and game plans.
“I think that I’m learning just like our kids are,” Germaine said. “I feel very fortunate that I have the staff that I have around me. They have a lot more experience than I do.”
Germaine said he never stopped to think about where his team belonged in the 4A-I landscape before the season began. At that time, he was more worried about getting to know his players.
The win over Cactus has gotten the rest of the division’s attention, and the Bulldogs are ranked No. 5 in 4A-I in the Tribune’s latest top-5. But Germaine said it was business as usual at practice on Monday, as the team’s attention rests squarely on Friday’s region opener against McClintock.
“We’re just trying to keep our nose to the grindstone and keep on working,” he said.