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Foothills’ Johnson expected to be named Ironwood Ridge coach

Former Catalina Foothills football coach Matt Johnson is expected to be named the new coach at Ironwood Ridge on Tuesday.

Former Catalina Foothills football coach Matt Johnson is expected to be named the new coach at Ironwood Ridge on Tuesday.

Matt Johnson turned in one of southern Arizona’s most impressive high school football coaching performances in 2008, returning Catalina Foothills to the playoffs in his first year with the program.

His Foothills experience will be a short-lived one, however, as he is expected to be named the football coach at Ironwood Ridge on Tuesday at the Amphitheater school board meeting.

Johnson, 35, and Ironwood Ridge Athletic Director Will Kreamer declined comment on the matter until after Tuesday’s board meeting, but Johnson this week met with Foothills Athletic Director Jody Brase and his former Foothills players to tell them of his decision.

“Our community is thankful for the short time that he was here,” Brase said in an e-mail. “He brought so many great things to our program. The kids and parents are sad, upset and hate to see him leave.”

Johnson will replace former Ironwood Ridge coach Gary Minor, who retired after leading the Nighthawks to a 10-3 record and the Class 5A Division II semifinals in 2008. Minor is the only coach Ironwood Ridge has had, leaving the program with a 54-26 record in seven years.

Foothills went 6-5 in 2008 and qualified for the state tournament for the fourth time in the school’s 14-year history. All five Foothills losses last year came to playoff teams.

Johnson, who played for and coached under Amphi’s Vern Friedli, also coached at Rincon/University from 2003-06, leading the Rangers to the playoffs in 2005 and 2006, two of the school’s four playoff appearances since opening in 1963.

Brase said Foothills has begun its search for a new coach.

For more on high school sports, check out the Grammer School sports blog.

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