Mountain View High School football coach James Wilson resigned earlier this week after seven seasons at the school.
Wilson, who played defensive line on Azusa Pacific University’s 1998 NAIA championship team, was 20-47 in seven seasons.
“It just kind of felt right,” Wilson said. “It’s been seven years. I was struggling with it when the season ended. It just kind of became a strain. I moved to Anaheim two years ago and with the drive and my kids getting older, it just felt like the right time.”
Mountain View has long been one of the Valley’s under-performing programs, but under the energetic Wilson the Vikings had started to show signs of competitiveness. In 2010, Wilson installed the Wing-T offense and Mountain View went 5-5. The Vikings took a step back this year, going 3-7, but much of that could be attributed to youth.
Mountain View’s numbers in terms of player turnout had also seen a steady rise under Wilson. The Vikings reportedly have 91 players in the program across all levels.
“I’m proud of where the program’s at and where I’m leaving it,” Wilson said. “Leaving the kids, that was the hardest part. Especially with the team we have coming back next year. We have a lot of kids returning. I just think it’s time for someone else to take the baton and lead the Vikings into the future.
“Some of the kids were real upset and some of them understood. Kids are kids, and I can understand why some of them were upset. It’s hard for them to wrap their heads around the fact that coaches have a personal life. But I understand that.
After Wilson graduated from APU in 2000, he joined former Mountain View coach Frank Alonzo’s staff as an assistant. After three seasons, he was named head coach. But back then, just fielding a team, numbers-wise, at Mountain View was a difficult task.
In addition to low player turnout in his early years, Wilson had to basically start from scratch with what players did show up because for many of them high school was their first try at football.
“I tell people all the time that being the head coach at Mountain View High School was probably one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever been a part of,” Wilson said. “I’ve been a part of football my whole life. I grew up in a small town (Kingsburg, Ca.) where it’s all about football. I played as a little kid, I played in high school, junior college and at Azusa Pacific. And then you come to a school like Mountain View where, to be honest, football wasn’t even respected. Football players were looked down upon when I took over the job.
“What I’m really proud of is that I feel like there was a culture change. Football players are respected now. When I took over the program, I believe we had 19 guys on varsity. I don’t think we even fielded a junior varsity team. The main thing I’m proud of is where we started and where we’re at now. Granted, the record isn’t where I wanted it to be. We wanted to win every game.”
Wilson will remain a physical education teacher at the school and has not ruled out a return to coaching in the future. The school will fly the position.
Aram’s take: If you look at the progress Mountain View made under Wilson, it’s hard not to be impressed. He did a great job of improving the program’s numbers and simplifying the game for a bunch of kids hadn’t played it before. Sure, the Vikes struggled for wins in most years, but coaching sometimes runs deeper than that. Wilson did a great job and was always enthusiastic about a program that not many people would get excited about.
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