Rich Wellbrock resigning

Rich Wellbrock is resigning as Mountain Pointe High School’s head football coach after two seasons leading the Pride.

Rich Wellbrock is resigning as the head football coach at Mountain Pointe High School after two seasons leading the program.

Wellbrock informed Mountain Pointe administration of his decision on Monday night. A letter was sent to families Tuesday afternoon.

“The ability to make a difference in so many kid’s lives and to see them blossom the last two years has been very enjoyable,” Wellbrock told the Ahwatukee Foothills News. “Whether you are 1-9 or 10-0, you have to assess what is the right path for both the program you are involved with and yourself.

“There’s nothing wrong with that on a personal or business level.”

Wellbrock was hired at Mountain Pointe in January 2018 to take over the football program after former coach Norris Vaughan stepped down. In his first season at the helm of the Pride program, Wellbrock led them to a 7-5 record and an appearance in the 2018 6A quarterfinals, where Mountain Pointe fell to eventual champion Chandler.

Facing turnover in numerous positions from 2018, the Pride went just 1-9 this season and failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008, when they won just two games.

“It was a difficult year,” Wellbrock said. “Maybe we didn’t have the right play call at times on offense or the right defense as a staff, but our kids gave everything they had on a week-in, week-out basis.”

Wellbrock’s tenure at Mountain Pointe was met with controversy this season involving the program. It was revealed in September that Justin Hager, a former assistant on the team and also the head girls basketball coach, had sent plays and game strategy to opponents of the Mountain Pointe football and boys basketball teams dating back to 2017, when Vaughan was still the head coach.

Hager used an anonymous email address, walterpayton12@yahoo.com, to send the information to opposing coaches.

Wellbrock was informed by Faith Lutheran (Las Vegas, Nev.) coach Vernon Fox on Aug. 23 about the emails he had received from the anonymous address. Wellbrock and the district began investigating the emails and found Hager's school email linked to the anonymous account.

Hager was fired by the Tempe Union High School District after he admitted to being behind the anonymous address following a thorough investigation by district officials.

Mountain Pointe’s season ended Friday, Nov. 1 after a double-overtime loss to Corona del Sol. Despite a difficult season, Wellbrock said the spirit of the player’s remained high throughout each contest.

“During his time at Mountain Pointe as the head football coach he was able to work with students from all backgrounds and taught them to respect the game,” Mountain Pointe Athletic Director Aaron Frana said in an email. “We wished coach Wellbrock the best in his future coaching endeavors and thank him for the work he has put in the last two years with our student athletes.”

Wellbrock’s resignation will be up for approval by the Tempe Union governing board on Wednesday, Nov. 6. He plans to take a few weeks before planning out his future in coaching.

“It’s been quite a year,” Wellbrock said. “From our early-season drama to our tough region schedule. I’m just going to take a breath and at some point, get back on and start thinking what the next steps are.”

The search for Mountain Pointe's next head football coach is underway.

“We will have a head coach in place by the end of first semester,” Frana said.

Have an interesting story? Contact Zach Alvira at zalvira@timespublications.com and follow him on Twitter @ZachAlvira.

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