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Ex-Ironwood ‘D’ coach to head Foothills program

Citizen Staff Writer



Last month, the Catalina Foothills High School football program lost its coach to Ironwood Ridge.

This weekend, Foothills replaced ex-coach Matt Johnson with the man who played a key role in making the Ironwood Ridge job so desirable.

“The expectations at Ironwood Ridge were high and I know they’ll be high at Foothills, too,” said the 46-year-old Cortese, who teaches in the Amphitheater School District at Painted Sky Elementary.

” . . . That school is so successful in so many sports, they’re hungry for success with the football program and I’m excited about that.”

Foothills is one of nine southern Arizona Class 4A or 5A schools making football coaching changes this offseason. Only Douglas, which hired a replacement for ex-coach John Necas only to see him resign a month later, has yet to name a football coach for the 2009 season.

Cortese takes over a Foothills program that appeared on the right track after one year under Johnson.

The Falcons went 6-5 and advanced to the 4A Division I playoffs.

Under Cortese and then-Ironwood Ridge head coach Gary Minor, the Ironwood Ridge defense developed into arguably the best in southern Arizona over the past two seasons.

Last year, the defense led the Nighthawks to the Class 5A Division II semifinals, the furthest the program has advanced since opening less than a decade ago.

• High school state roundup, 3C

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