Mike Moschetti, the hometown boy who took La Mirada High School’s football program from one of the best in the area to one of the best in Southern California, resigned on Tuesday in a move that came as a shock to many.
Moschetti walks away just a year after guiding La Mirada to a state regional bowl championship. The Matadores reached the CIF Southern Section Division 3 championship game this season before falling to Edison.
“There just comes a point where it’s just time for a change in leadership,” Moschetti said. “It will be good for me, it will be good for the school. I’ve been here nine years and sometimes your spiel gets old, saying the same things over and over to the kids.
“It hit me walking off the field after we got beat (by Edison) that it was just time for me to not coach at La Mirada anymore.”
There’s speculation that with a high-paying glamour job now open at JSerra and vacancies in other places, Moschetti may be setting up for a jump to another school. But that’s something the 41-year-old known for speaking his mind and taking on all comers somewhat ruled out.
“I think eventually, some day, I’ll come back and coach,” Moschetti said. “I’ve been approached before by private schools, but I grew up in La Mirada and played in La Mirada, and no matter how much money was involved, it was something I could never see myself coaching at one of those schools.
“The challenge was to do something special at the high school I grew up at and played. And the challenge is more intriguing to me to coach at a school like La Mirada that doesn’t have the huge coaching stipends and huge budget. We have a tiny little weight room. That was the goal and the challenge, to do something special here.
“Anybody can win at Bosco (St. John Bosco). Anybody can win at Servite. I think it’s tougher to win at a little public school like La Mirada, that has under 2,100 students with no money and a tiny little weight room. That’s always been intriguing to me; the challenge to win where guys say you can’t.”
As a student at La Mirada, Moschetti was a two-sport standout in baseball and football. As a quarterback, some would say he won the 1992 CIF championship almost single handed. After graduating in 1993, Moschetti continued to play both sports, but rose to further fame while playing quarterback at Colorado.
As a coach, Moschetti helped guide the school to a CIF championship in 2009. He then caught the ire of some area fans when La Mirada began making videos for social media of the different uniform combinations its players would wear. After some earlier than expected postseason exits, some fans felt La Mirada spent too much time concentrating on how it looked and not winning games.
And yet no matter what La Mirada did in the playoffs, Moschetti’s program was as good as any in terms of getting players scholarships to play at the next level. Lots of scholarships … and often to big-time universities. Since Moschetti took over in 2008, 44 former La Mirada players have gone on to play college football. The Matadores will add to that number again this February.
“The proudest moments that I have, not only me, but the rest of our coaching staff, is on Signing Day,” Moschetti said. “Seeing the kids sign and families taking pictures. We’ve had a lot of kids over the years sign. Sometimes you look back and wish you could’ve done more because there were some kids who didn’t end up signing and fulfilling their dream.
“But that’s what makes me tick, seeing kids go to the next level and get a master’s degree and coming out debt free because it was all paid for.”
Moschetti also threw caution to the wind in terms of scheduling. He beefed up La Mirada’s nonleague schedule so it was one of the toughest around. And while many observers openly scoffed at the notion of La Mirada banging heads with Mater Dei and St. John Bosco, what got lost in the shuffle is that amount of top programs that Moschetti’s teams beat.
During Moschetti’s nine seasons, La Mirada posted wins over San Clemente, Charter Oak, La Habra, La Serna, Tesoro, Orange Lutheran, St. Francis and St. Paul, among others.
It all culminated with with 2015’s historic run. The Matadores won the Southeast Division championship, then won regional and state bowl championship games to finish 13-3. The momentum carried over into this season with La Mirada finally delivering Moschetti the win over a Trinity League he so desired as the Matadores topped Orange Lutheran in Week 0.
La Mirada also beat San Clemente, which later won the Division 2 championship and is playing for a state bowl championship this weekend. The Matadores were heavy favorites to win Division 3, but lost at home to Edison in the championship game on Dec. 2.