Eric Lauer

New Marcos de Niza football coach Eric Lauer, a former assistant coach at Mountain Pointe, observes his new team on the practice field.

Eric Lauer seems to have found a home as Marcos de Niza High School’s new football coach.

Lauer, a former longtime Mountain Pointe assistant, clearly is in command on the practice field already, and the Padres appear to be embracing him.

The sport provides valuable life lessons, far more than learning Xs and Os, Lauer believes. He relishes teaching those lessons in the hope that his players’ success on the field translates to success off of it.

“It’s an honor to be called coach. I’ve never taken that lightly,” Lauer said before a recent summer practice. “I’m just trying to focus on what lasts, and that’s education and character.”

Leading a football team is something Lauer had worked toward for nearly a decade with his mentor, former Pride coach Norris Vaughan. Vaughan’s longtime right-hand man is taking the lessons he learned and applying them to his new squad.

“His focus was always on what’s important and being deliberate about what you do. Everyone needs to know what expectations are. I’m preaching that to our kids now,” Lauer said.

Replacing Paul Moro, the state’s winningest high school football coach, at Marcos in May was an opportunity Lauer could not pass up. Lauer is no stranger to winning. At Mountain Pointe, the Pride won a big-school state title, reached the championship two other seasons, and played in the state semifinals in eight out of nine years.

When reflecting on his tenure with the Pride, which also included time with legendary coach Karl Kiefer, Lauer said his fondest memory wasn’t the 2013 state championship win under Vaughan. It was Kiefer not hesitating to suspend a few star players after they were caught drinking at a homecoming dance.

Kiefer’s dedication to upholding moral values made a lasting impression on Lauer.

“Karl Kiefer said that they were done without hesitation,” Lauer recalled. “Since then, I’ve always thought about worst-case scenarios. You’ve got to be ready to lose your best player. That was the greatest example of putting your values to work.”

That experience helped shape Lauer as a coach and as a person of strong character.

He is applying those values as he transitions into his role with the Padres: On and off the field, the coach has high expectations for his team.

On the field, the Padres are expected to be a contender in 4A this season. They went 21-10 the last three seasons, including a championship appearance in 2015.

“Our secondary is big, with real good speed. Our O-line will be one of the bigger groups in the conference,” Lauer said.

He expects the offense to be the engine that powers the Padres. More specifically, he believes they will impose their will on opponents through a dominant run game, just as the Pride did under Vaughan.

Lauer’s confidence stems from what he’s seen out of junior Yakeen Baylis, who rushed for 1,130 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 6.3 yards per carry, last season.

“At 190 pounds, he can cut on a dime. The run game can be demoralizing,” Lauer said. “A lot of teams want to base their mentality off defense. We want offense. Our mentality will come off running the ball.”

That mentality will, of course, be combined with the coach’s message of accountability. Just as he did with the Pride, Lauer is taking his role as a leader of men seriously at Marcos de Niza.

“Accountability and discipline will go a long way,” Lauer said.

Contact Brian Benesch at 480-898-5630 or

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