Football: Mike Mooney makes a grand return to coaching

As Aram Tolegian confirmed, Mike Mooney is back and takes the reigns at San Marino High after D.R. Moreland decided to step down to further his education. Mooney’s no stranger to the West, so I ask you this: Does this make Mooney the biggest name in the West San Gabriel Valley?

By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer

San Marino High School announced assistant principal Mike Mooney as its new football coach on Monday, ending weeks of speculation that Mooney would replace D.R. Moreland, who resigned in late March to further his education.

San Marino gave Mooney his first head coaching position in 1996. Mooney left San Marino after the 1998 season to become head coach at his alma mater Temple City where he guided the Rams to four Rio Hondo League titles during a successful eight-year run.

Mooney was back at San Marino for the 2007 school year after accepting his current assistant principal position. He served as offensive coordinator for Moreland for the past two seasons.


“Obviously it’s going to be uncharted waters in some respects because I’ll be balancing my administrative position with being the head coach,” Mooney said. “But mostly this was done out of a sense of loyalty to my employers because we’re in need of a head football coach, it’s getting late in the year and there’s no teaching position.

“And having been away from head coaching for three years, it made me realize that I missed it more than I realized. It was the right fit for the right time for the right reasons.”

San Marino is coming off a 9-3 season in which the Titans ended a long drought without a CIF-Southern Section playoff victory. They also had a strong year in 2008, going 8-3. Keeping the program on the upswing is Mooney’s priority.

“We will continue the effort to be as competitive as we can possibly be, day in and day out,” Mooney said. “We’ve made some strides over the past few years, creating a culture where you can be competitive in school and in football.”

Mooney cited keeping as much of San Marino’s homegrown talent as possible in a Titans uniform rather than going to private schools. He’ll get a boost by inheriting an exciting freshman team that went 9-1 this past season.

“That’s been an ongoing goal that began before I came here in 2007,” Mooney said of getting all of the city’s talent to San Marino High. “That will continue to be a primary focus. I don’t foresee that we’ll be able to keep 100 percent of the kids, but we’ll be really able to work with the ones who stay.”

Mooney, who played at USC after a stellar career at Temple City, said the thought of one day being a head coach again was the furthest thing from his mind when he left his alma mater in 2007 for his current position at San Marino.

“Let’s face it, I’m not very well traveled,” Mooney said. “And it’s been a short commute either way. This was never on my radar. I thought those days (being a head coach) were over when I packed up my car and headed down Huntington Drive.

“But the fact of the matter is that I’m a football guy, they need a football guy and I’m here. And the parents and kids have been great to me here.”

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  • New York

    It’s refreshing to read about a new coach that is not charged with “going in a new direction”. SM made that move two years ago. Except it was not necessarily going in a “new” direction but rather hitting the accelerator.

    9-1 Frosh team makes it seem like he has something to work with.

    As a player, an OC and HC, Mooney teams have done well against Monrovia. I’m glad we have Maddox and his staff getting our guys ready.

  • Bob Anon

    Way back on one of Aram’s topics, I posted that Blair, SM, SP, and my alma mater will fight for table scraps. I don’t know if anyone read it.

    Now I have a new thing to say: Blair, SP, and my alma mater will fight for fourth place more often than not. Great hire for SM.

    Goldenarm and Rams,
    I still think TC will make a good hire.

    I can’t wait to see Yoder’s second season. Is it September yet?

  • TC Dad

    That SM Freshman team beat my son’s team 40-0. If it wasn’t for some bad calls early, the game might have been different. Either way, a 40-0 blasting is not like walking into a barren cupboard. They had some athletic kids and they seemed to play hard. It was a sad weekend. I don’t know if SM ever swept TC. Mooney can take the SM program to the top. With some of those kids they could win RHL and Mid Valley championships. Mooney will help them realize what it takes to get there.

    I’m sure he’ll get the most out of the kids that are on varsity now too. He’s got some good junior and sophomore players already in the program (K. Do among others), but I’ll be interested to see if they can make division championship noise in a few years. That freshman team was pretty good. With Mooney and the other guys, I’m sure they’ll be better. I’m surprised the SM freshman lost to Monrovia. I wouldn’t book anything for Monrovia after this year.

  • Titan Dad

    Welll New York and TC Dad if it is any consulation to the San Marino team that Mooney will soon inherit, he may want to find some gifted athletes around the Pasadena area to well suit hi armour. My son played on the San Marino Team that went 9-1 but lost to Monrovia 35+9 and from what I remember the 35 pts. came rather quickly. Monrovias Fresman QB is the real deal, he is probably the eqivelant to most teams Varsity QB’s. and his recievers are very very athletic. Mooney has always found a way to keep teams that he has coached in games with less but this is going to be an interesting transition for him with fewer and fewer pure athletes to pull from. San Marino always plays tough Defense which in turns creates a momentum that can be very succesful, and if there is any coach that can pull an upset and make it look legit, it’s Mike Mooney.

  • Titan Dad

    Welll New York and TC Dad if it is any consulation to the San Marino team that Mooney will soon inherit, he may want to find some gifted athletes around the Pasadena area to well suit hi armour. My son played on the San Marino Team that went 9-1 but lost to Monrovia 35+9 and from what I remember the 35 pts. came rather quickly. Monrovias Fresman QB is the real deal, he is probably the eqivelant to most teams Varsity QB’s. and his recievers are very very athletic. Mooney has always found a way to keep teams that he has coached in games with less but this is going to be an interesting transition for him with fewer and fewer pure athletes to pull from. San Marino always plays tough Defense which in turns creates a momentum that can be very succesful, and if there is any coach that can pull an upset and make it look legit, it’s Mike Mooney.

  • Titan Freshman

    While yes, we went 9-1, the Monrovia game is still fresh in our minds. Look for us to strive for bigger and better things after we were sobered up by the Monrovia game.

  • Titan Sports Fan

    the SM – Monrovia Frosh game to my understanding should have been closer than the perceived score … as in any game of football you need to keep the turnover differential in your favor or even to give yourself a shot and SM didnt that day but the talent and pieces are in place for them to develop into a hell of a ball team if they put in the time and work and too keep the strength in numbers fielded 50 or so players on the frosh level last year ….. mooney i’m positive will be the guy to do so

  • FB Einstein

    High School Football 101:

    1. Administration that cares
    2. Head Coach that knows the game and is respected by the community and the players
    3. Parents that care, show spirit and trust that the head coach has the team/kids best interest in mind
    4. Facilities and financial strength to entise prospective local athletes

    Coach Mooney/ Maddox it will be fun watching you guys throw-down!

    As for you running the TC program into the ground…SHAME ON YOU!!!!!!!!!!!

  • New York

    The last time Monrovia missed the playoffs came at the hands of San Marino in 2003. That was when Bill Maloney was filling in at Head Coach…

    I’m fully aware of what SM is capable of, especially when playing at San Marino. That place can be tougher on the visiting team than the old Boston Garden.

    Mooney plays defensive offense when facing better athletes. Even when he had Dan Loyd and then John Tuttle at QB in 94 and 95, he still had a run-first offense. SM may have gotten the majority of their yards through the air, but they definitely had more attempts on the ground.

    Allowing SM/Mooney to set the pace of the game is a major mistake. He coaches to win, whether that means scoring few points or lots of points. The ‘W’ is in sight. A fundamentally sound O-line, QB who can throw, RB who can grind when needed, a couple possession receivers running good routes and few penalties or mental mistakes…very frustrating for a D-Coordinator because it is difficult to pinpoint the threat.

    The cheap shot against Mooney is his teams’ records in the playoffs. Critics need to peel back the layers and look at whom those losses have come against: Crespi, Inglewood, Serra, Verbum Dei, Lompoc, etc…Dont forget about that first round loss to Rocky Hines and St. Bernard.

  • Goldenarm

    FB Einstein

    2 years ago, would you even imagine you would be making at statement like this??? The rapid degradation of the program, the respect and the years of establishing all things good…are just oozing out while the guards have all fallen asleep on their watch.

    People in charge are judged on how they react and respond in critical situations,

    I frequently disagree with you on other topics – but you are 1000% on the money this time around.

  • Nervo

    If I understand correctly, FB Einstein, you are saying Mooney ran the TC program into the ground. That is complete and utter BS. If his departure alone killed the program, then he WAS the program, because when he left almost everybody stayed at TC to continue the program, so the only reason that the Mooney + program was successful but the program itself was not must mean that the the program was already crap.

    I am glad Mooney is taking the reins at SM and I am glad that at least during Week 11 and onward, I will have a team and coach I actually appreciate (sorry M-town fans) still playing.

  • Anonymous

    Ok all, no disrespect at all to coach Mooney. I’ve heard alot of good things about him and Im sure they are all true. But lets not forget this is still the RHL, it is the weakest leauge, Sorry to say!
    Cmon now, you have Blair, SP, LC, TC, SM and Monrovia. Monrovia only desent team and we saw how they blew it also!
    New York, you make my point…! By stating the teams he lost to: “Crespi, Inglewood, Serra, Verbum Dei, Lompoc, etc…Dont forget about that first round loss to Rocky Hines and St. Bernard.”
    Good luck to you coach MM!

  • FB Einstein

    Re: Nervo

    Calm down. I was referring to the powers that be at TC. Read Goldearms’ blog, then reread mine, take a shot of water and get ready for a long TC season.

  • Goldenarm


    great characterization on the MM approach, probably even enlighted him.

    his chop blocking submarine attacking strategy of low O and D line works well – but can be overcome with mobile, smart linemen and game plan preparing for that type of strategy. Wise and unpredictable play calling can also help to slay the SM strategy.
    m-town’s monotonous dive after dive after pitch after dive last year….played exactly into that formula, almost costing them the game. SM was short on threats once Hung was neutralized, leaving just Yortsos to improvise and break something.
    The SM staff is good and knows how to prepare. Yeh, yeah, the RHL is weak…that echo will never be put to rest. Sometime before Armageddon So Pas and Blair MUST energize their programs, somehow, someway and crank things up.
    I am hoping McFarland lands the TC job.

  • Goldenarm


    Azusa prescribed to your theory last year – and blew open the game early.

    Fundamentals brought SM back though…close enough to start Azusa stomachs to clinch in worry – but no ceegar for Titans.

  • Hmmm. Said

    I wonder what that makes the other leagues around here feel like when most of ther front runners are 1 and done in CIF. Take a closer look at the RHL vs. other league teams before you make such a silly statement.

  • Nervo

    Haha sorry FB Einstein, I didn’t think that what I got from that was the meaning you had for it. I just wanted to make sure we were all on the same page.

  • New York

    Say what you want about the RHL being a weak league. Frankly, I’m not certain which local teams would have found success against these particular teams at that time. Crespi, Inglewood, Serra, Verbum Dei, Lompoc, and St. Bernard.

    Inglewood was loaded back then and I think their coach was a Don Markham disciple who ended up coaching at San Jose St. Serra was loaded (still are) and was 13-1 that year losing only to Lompoc who won it back-to-back. Every team in the valley should be familiar with Crespi. I’m sure Mooney would like to have that game back against St. Bernard, but oh well. I’m pretty sure Rocky Hinds was QB of that team and ended up going to USC. Verbum Dei was loaded as well in 2006 and they brought it all together in the playoffs. Verbum Dei blew out a Duarte team that had a lineman who starts at UCLA, a DB at Fresno State and a running back who went to Utah State.

    Unlike many coaches who are highly regarded because they coach winning teams, Coach Mooney rarely (maybe never) has coached a team that loses to teams they should not lose to. He has had SOME good (one all world) players, but his teams typically overachieve. His losses are typically when he is completely outmanned, but usually they are able to find at least some success even in those situations. He can do Xs and Os with the best BUT he also understands how simple of a game it can be such that fatigue can make cowards of us all. That comes from butting heads with tough competition as a player but also having the priviledge to coach under Bill Maloney…that guy was one of a kind.

    Even if we were to accept that the RHL has weak teams, that would only add to Mooney’s coaching credibility. His “weak team’s” performance against the listed teams above would suggest that he is a great coach.

  • New York

    Would McFarland really leave PHS after one season? Is it that bad?

  • really?

    “Anonymous said:New york- I can’t believe miguel or the new football guy haven’t picked up on the things goin on @phs rt now.”

    Really?… you really can’t believe that the star news has not picked up on something like that? Dude the star news has not been good for years. We are lucky we get updates on some sports every now and then…. If its not one of Miggys teams He doesn’t care

  • ApacheJoe

    The best thing for TC to do is hire McFarland, he’s an outstanding coach who understands and respects the old school TC football program. Although he’s an AHS grad, he truly values the TC tradition and would make them proud. PHS will regret losing this guy!!!

  • Observantcat

    This Just in: Good Luck Justin
    Justin Postuma a 6-foot-2 quarterback who passed for 2,115 yards and 19 touchdowns this past season for La Canada St. Francis, plans to walk on at UCLA this fall, St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds said.

    Posthuma helped lead the Golden Knights to a 9-3 record. His teammate, Dietrich Riley, a defensive back, signed with the Bruins.

    Posthuma is known for his toughness and versatility.

    — Eric Sondheimer

  • Goldenarm

    Unless they utilize Knute Rockne DNA mixed with Hitchcock DNA and create us the hardest-ass coach who ever lived – my two choices have been Mustain or McFarland, and it looks like Mustain is not interested.
    Tuttle I do not know anything about.

    McFarland had very good repoire with the PHS kids and we need some of that at TC. He is a munchkin like Backus, so maybe that is a good sign. I don’t know exactly what went down at PHS (except money wars within PUSD)but they had a good guy and apparently now – don’t.

    RHL whiner – read NY’s testament, end of story.

  • Anonymous

    All u guys make me laugh! DNA this DNA that…talking about 10 years ago, who did what and when, who was playing and who wasn’t! At the end of the day…
    RHL sucks! That’s the end of story!!!
    And please don’t call me a whiner when, you, GA, are always whining about your kid at TC, admin at TC, all you’ve done on here is whine like a baby all year! If you know so much about football, then step up and go coach, but oh wait, you probably have no clue how to! So sit in the stands and be one of those fans thats always whinning about one thing or another! And one more thing, you say your two choices are etc…
    Who are you??? Like your choice matters! LOL….

  • Goldenarm


    If you have an opinion on any meaningful, share it.

    You have made clear you are a card carrying member of the “RHL Sucks” Tea Party movement. Beyond that what is your take on SGV football?

    That is why I return to blog…because others here love the game as much as I do.

    Someone mentioned Yoder. LC is in good hands. With Moore graduating, do they have a QB? How was there JV team?

  • New York

    Don’t insult the Tea Party movement like that…

    Tell us what league is strong, not just stronger than RHL, but absolutely strong. You make a blanket statement and offer no substance, but you dismiss supportive details from others. Your passion seems strong but misguided. If you combine that with some substance then you may be able to put forth a valid argument.

    You seem to have a bone to pick with GA as well as the RHL in general. Are you a recently former member of an RHL staff? Are you a coach who struggles in the era of blogs? GA has certainly touched a nerve of yours.

  • Bob Anon

    Last I heard, Yoder was looking at 1 of 3 guys to replace the irreplaceable Rocky Moore. Rocky was the best QB in La Canada since Jimmy Clausen’s older brother Casey (Casey Clausen was at LCHS his freshman year before transferring to Alemany with his dad, who was the coach at LC).

    We have some talent coming back, I think a running back or two. I have full faith in Yoder, hopefully the team realizes there aren’t many playoff berths and responds.

    GA, I firmly believe that TC will be back with whomever you hire. I think LC will contend for 2nd or 3rd, but Monrovia, TC, and SM all look good.

  • Goldenarm

    Football talk has grown silent among TC’ers and that is is not a promising sign. Part of it is yes, hope and expectations really were crushed last year and longtime TC folk didn’t like the changes and particularly the outcome of those changes. There is no holding back change – it is gonna happen.

    I think Coach White, no I know Coach White learned plenty last year. We talked many times during the year and recently, and I don’t harbor any dislike for the guy. My ire and disapproval has always been rooted in the low blow dismissal of Backus and the misguided thought that abandoning a path of proven success just for the whimsical reason to find some other direction and newness – was beyond foolish. The program is not dead, but is sure as hell wounded. Miracle seasons are never ones that start on a weak foundation.

    As far as next season, we have size up front and scattered quickness. Somewhere around 20 returnees if they all come back, (better than the 13 returnees and 5 starters last year) They need to get real tough, real quick, and they need simplicity and clear cut assignment football. And yeah, we need a good coach.

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