Jose Lucero figured he’d be at Phoenix North Canyon for the long haul.
That was until Rich Wellbrock stepped down as football coach at Goodyear Desert Edge to lead Chandler Basha’s program last month.
After leading North Canyon to its first winning season (6-4) in six years in his first season as head coach, Lucero will return to Desert Edge, which he helped build with Wellbrock since 2010.
Lucero was offensive coordinator on Desert Edge’s only state championship team in 2015.
The Agua Fria Union High School District on Wednesday approved Lucero as head coach at Desert Edge.
“I never saw it coming,” Lucero said. “I didn’t think Rich would leave. But he got a great opportunity at Basha. It was too good to pass up for me and my family.”
Lucero was with Wellbrock for 13 years, serving as an assistant coach at Tolleson under Wellbrock before he was hired to take over at Desert Edge in 2010. Lucero played offensive line at Glendale Community when Wellbrock was the line coach there.
The Scorpions went 74-16 and reached the state final twice during the Wellbrock era. Lucero was offensive coordinator at Desert Edge from 2012-15. Desert Edge reached the state final in his first year as OC.
Even though Lucero has to find replacements for mobile quarterback Tehran Thomas and running back/receiver/linebacker Roshaun Johnson, he’ll have four returning starting offensive linemen from a team that went 9-1 in the regular season and lost to Peoria Centennial in the 5A Conference playoffs.
Lucero will meet with the players Thursday morning and will be introduced to the Desert Edge football community next week in a meet-and-greet.
Lucero said he will retain last season’s offensive and defensive coordinators at Desert Edge.
“They’ve got a really good thing going there,” he said. “Me being familiar with their kids and the community and the facilities, it helps ease the transition into it.”
Lucero, who called North Canyon a great place and praised the school for giving him a chance to lead the program, credits Wellbrock for getting him into coaching.
“He’s had a huge impact,” Lucero said.
He said schematics will remain the same, but added, “I’ll put my twist on things.”
Suggest human interest stories to Richard Obert at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-316-8827. Follow him at azc_obert