Ty Wisdom, who coached the Horizon High School football program to the inaugural Open Division playoffs in 2019, has been recommended to the Tempe Union High School District Governing Board to take over Desert Vista’s program.
Desert Vista Athletic Director Tommy Eubanks announced Wisdom as the new head coach of the Thunder in a press release Tuesday morning.
“There was a lot of interest in this position and I’m 150% confident that we selected the right man for the job,” Eubanks said in the release. “This is such an exciting time for DV Football, with the unveiling of our turf field, and now bringing someone of Ty’s caliber to our program. It’s going to be exciting to watch what unfolds next season.”
Wisdom coached several high schools in Nebraska and was the tight ends coach at the University of Nebraska, Omaha from 2006-08. He served as assistant coach at Valley Vista before he was hired to take over the Horizon program in 2016, a year after the Huskies went 0-10 in Division I. Since then, he’s led the Huskies to a 31-18 record, which includes three playoff appearances.
This past season Wisdom and the Huskies navigated through adversity brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. At one point, Horizon was forced play a game against Gilbert with less than 30 players and canceled its matchups against Saguaro and Maricopa due to additional cases within the program.
As a result, Horizon finished 3-3 overall and missed the 5A playoffs, which was decreased from 16 teams to eight due to the shortened season. Wisdom informed his team of his departure on Tuesday morning.
“(Horizon) is the reason I have this opportunity at Desert Vista,” Wisdom said. “My coaches, the administration there that took a shot at a kid from Nebraska five years ago. They all bought into the vision there. It’s a better place now than where I found it.
“Like I told them this morning, I’m their biggest fan. I want them to succeed and I know they will.”
Wisdom takes over the Desert Vista program after former coach Dan Hinds announced his retirement following the 2020 season. Hinds led the Thunder for 19 years as head coach and was part of the program as an assistant under Jim Rattay when the school opened in 1997.
Just as he did with Horizon in 2016, Wisdom will inherit a team coming off its worst season in history. The Thunder finished 0-6 this past season and had its share of COVID-related issues as well. After a positive test in Week 6, Desert Vista canceled its game against Chandler.
Despite a winless season, Wisdom will have plenty of talent at his disposal.
All three Desert Vista quarterbacks return next season, including sophomore starter Jackson Akins. Star running back Devon Grubbs, who battled injuries all season, will return for his senior year as the unsung captain of the offense and team. Sophomore running back Quinton Ivey, who took over in Grubbs’ absence, also returns along with do-it-all sophomore athlete Michael Allison, who played a key role in all facets of the game for Desert Vista.
The Thunder also return most of their starting offensive line, which is key for Wisdom who takes pride in coaching that group.
“I’m super excited,” Wisdom said. “I’m excited to meet the kids and talk about our vision together. It’s going to take everybody buying in to get back to competing for championships. That’s why I’m here, we need to be competing in the Open championship year in and year out.”
Akins, who figures to once again be the starting quarterback under Wisdom next season, was able to meet his new head coach Tuesday afternoon at Desert Vista along with offensive tackle Jai Rodriguez. Wisdom shared his vision for the program with the two key returning starters for the Thunder.
“He brings a lot of revival to this program,” Akins said. “He flipped Horizon around from a team that was defeated all season to one that is in the playoffs. I feel like he can do that with us and I’m excited for next season.”
Rodriguez enjoyed the thought of Wisdom helping out with the offensive line. He believes that will help him and the rest of his teammates in the trenches to build comradery with their new coach at a fast pace.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Rodriguez said. “He’s a great coach who I’m sure can turn this program around. Nobody expected coach Hinds to leave but it’s something we have to roll with. It’ll be a different transition but it’ll be a good one.”
Wisdom was among more than 20 applicants that applied for the head coaching job at Desert Vista, according to a source familiar with the hiring process that involved interviews the week after the conclusion of the 2020 season. Wisdom said he will immediately begin building his coaching staff, which he hopes to have in place by the end of January.
The head coaching job at Desert Vista peaked Wisdom’s interest from the time it was open. Especially when taking into consideration the program had just two head coaches in its history.
Despite its struggles last season, he aims to return the program to a championship level and perhaps capture Desert Vista’s third-ever state title.
“When you have two head coaches in history, that says something,” Wisdom said. “The expectations they have here and everything that goes along with it, it’s a premier job in the Valley. I want to make sure these kids know they’re valued in this program. Whether they’re a freshman or sophomore, I will know them.
“It’ll take buy-in from all levels to build this program back to where it should be.”