In his second season as a head coach, Fazio won’t be called to engineer a turnaround the likes of which he achieved his lone season at Eisenhower. Murrieta Valley finished second in the powerful Southwestern League and lost in the quarterfinals of the playoffs to eventual CIF champion Corona Centennial.
“Professionally, this is the best day of my life,” Fazio said. “I’ve found the place where I want to be for the rest of my career.”
If Fazio had it his way, he would have never left Eisenhower. But The school whose football program hadn’t had a winning season since 2002, issued Fazio a pink slip in March.
Though he was aware it didn’t guarantee he wouldn’t retain his teaching position next school year, the desire for security prompted Fazio to seek a new place of employment.
With Murrieta Valley coach Greg Ireland having resigned after five seasons, the timing turned out to be perfect for Fazio, who will also teach at Murrieta Valley. It is with a bittersweet feeling that he leaves his first and only head coaching job.
“The Eisenhower kids did everything right,” Fazio said. “It’s sad because this had nothing to do with them and if I didn’t get a pink slip, I’d still be there.”
Perhaps the events of the last two days were initially set in motion when Eisenhower lost a playoff game last season at Murrieta Valley. Fazio met athletic director Darin Mott and several members of the administration at the game, all of whom impressed the first-year coach.
Apparently the feeling was mutual.
Fazio was the defensive coordinator for a fast-rising Carter program for two seasons before surprisingly leading Eisenhower to a share of the Citrus Belt League title last season.
He played in the Citrus Belt League at Fontana under legendary coach Dick Bruich, who won 12 league titles and a mythical national championship in 1987. Fazio’s father, Skip, was a longtime assistant at Fontana under Bruich and a member of his son’s staff at Eisenhower.
Though he is a “Citrus Belt League guy,” Fazio is ready to embrace the challenge of the Southwestern League.
Murrieta Valley has finished either second or third in the league the last six years and hasn’t missed the playoffs since a 4-6 season in 2006.
Murrieta Valley last won a league championship in 2005, since which Vista Murrieta has established itself as of the best teams in the state. Vista Murrieta has claimed four consecutive league championships, played in four straight CIF-SS Inland Division championship games and won one CIF title.
“It’s probably one of the best three of four leagues in California,” Fazio said of his new home. “Which means, it’s probably one of the top 10 leagues in the country. Everybody’s big, physical and well coached. It’s going to be tough, but what are you doing if you’re not challenging yourself?”