Mike Lapsley and Todd Hanley both have some key pieces of advice to take with them heading into their first-ever jobs as head football coaches.
For Lapsley, who is taking over the Coconino Panthers program, he is grateful for the lessons he learned from former head coach Mike Moran in how to run a program. As for the mentality for his own team, it’s all about staying positive, and Lapsley is ready for the new opportunity ahead of him.
“I’m extremely excited to kinda take the bull by the horns so to speak here and continue the success that Moran started,” Lapsley said.
Hanley, now at the helm of the Flagstaff Eagles program, noted all of the head coaches he has worked under during his stints in the Valley and in Florence, adding that he has learned that football is more about just the on-field success.
“The best advice they have given me collectively is just don’t overwhelm them with stuff. Install some basic things, generate excitement and teach the kids how to compete,” Hanley said. “The Xs and Os, as important as they are, they don’t matter as much the team chemistry and will to fight and win games as one big family.”
The new head coaches each bring their own excitement to the crosstown rival teams. That's on top of the buzz they have seen around town about the future of each program, a trend that Hanley says comes when a coach first commits to a program.
“I think that, in my experience, there is always a little bit of excitement,” Hanley said. “I don’t think it is so much attributed to me. Excitement and changes come with it.”
Hanley and Lapsley take over programs with some similarities on the field as both boast young star running backs but also have to replace graduated senior quarterbacks.
The differences come down to their backgrounds.
Lapsley has years of experience coaching youth football in Flagstaff, and was promoted to head coach after serving as Moran’s assistant last season in a resurgent year for the Coconino program.
With his familiarity with the Panthers last year, Lapsley said the transition from assistant to head coach has been smooth entering summer workouts.
“First give credit to Coach Moran and his ability to really do what he does -- which is change programs and get players on the right track,” Lapsley said. “Just a great mentor to be under, his experience as a coach was very valued, and I learned a ton from him. In terms of being around the program and Flagstaff, it is somewhat comforting.”
As for the team, Lapsley said his group, and those around the program, have quickly gotten on board with what his vision is for the Panthers.
“We have a number of players and people just buying in to what we want to accomplish," he said. "I’m feeling really good about the path we are on right now. There is certainly a buzz around school in what next year can bring.
"… Without a doubt, it extends even beyond our school. I’ve got parents and random people that I don’t know asking questions and I think the excitement is out of the school level -- and oozing.”
On the flip side, Hanley has been a longtime assistant coach at a number of stops -- mostly in the Valley. He just wrapped up his teaching duties at Florence High School on Thursday and said he will be in Flagstaff early next week.
Hanley wasn’t able to be at much of the Eagles spring practices because he had to finish his time in Florence.
The missed time in the spring has left some holes for Hanley to fill and he said the rest of the Eagles coaching staff has made sure to fill in the void.
“It’s been really good, we finished up that week really strong,” Hanley said. “I’ve been in communication with the guys and the coaches did another week of, not spring ball, but got the weight room organized and did some field work and 7-on-7s. It was really good, I was satisfied with spring while we were out there. We had about 73 kids and that held strong for those two weeks.”