Wrestling was Craig Brooks’ second sport in high school as his time at Northern Colorado and the Arena Football League as a lineman will attest.

It didn’t mean he took it lightly even though he patterned himself as a lightweight despite being 6 foot 3 and 280 pounds in high school.

“My claim to fame was being an athletic heavyweight,” he said. “I did Granby rolls, took shots and wrestled like a much smaller guy. My (high school) coach didn’t let me leave practice until I took 100 shots.

“It’s the same way I coach now.”

Brooks, 35, is bringing his philosophy to Mountain Pointe after winning over the administration with his personality and winning approach to be tabbed the new head coach.

“We were looking for someone with head coaching experience and also someone we could get on campus in some role,” Mountain Pointe athletic director Brian Winter said. “He has had state place winners at Higley and is willing to assist in football in hopes of increasing our numbers in the program. He has a vision and wants to build a quality program at Mountain Pointe.”

Brooks had one season at Higley as head coach and led the Knights to 15th place at the Division I state tournament with four state qualifiers after being an assistant the year before. He worked closely with heavyweight Drew Aho, who finished as the state runner-up.

Mountain Pointe had trouble filling out its roster in the upper weights last year after several football players didn’t come out after wrestling varsity the year before.

“I will get people out for the team. I am good with relationships,” said Brooks, who will be an assistant football coach at the lower levels. “When I got to Higley we had 13 kids and we filled the room last year.”

The Pride hasn’t had a state placer since 2010 and they compete in the state’s toughest Division I section. Mountain Pointe didn’t qualify anyone for state last year when the skin epidemic wiped out a portion of the lineup and others didn’t perform up to expectations.

Brooks is ready to take it all on and turn things around.

“I am really excited about the opportunity,” said Brooks, who coached at Canyon State Academy before Higley. “There are clearly athletes at the school. We just have to get them in the wrestling room and get those kids on the mat.

“There are a good core of 10 to 12 wrestlers and families ready to be committed and were working when they didn’t have a coach. The interest is there and the success will come.”

The Pride will return a handful of young wrestlers with varsity experience like Michael Santa Cruz, Cody Norby, Michael Waites, Jacob Rasmussen and others coming back.

The team had enough people sign up to participate in the team camp at Blue Ridge this month and others competed in the Grand Canyon State Games as Rasmussen won a title and Waites finished third.

“I am going to push these guys, especially when it comes to wrestling on your feet,” said Brooks, who was a section champ and all-state wrestler at James Logan High in Union City, Calif. “I learned to wrestle on my feet first. If you can get takedowns and hit a stand-up you can win any match. We will develop that approach.

“We are in a section with Desert Vista, Sunnyside and a lot of great programs. I came from a high school where I never lost to anyone in my own league and we had a stretch where we won our league championship eight of to 10 years and finished second the other two times. I will get a lot of kids involved and we will learn how to win.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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