Coaches Corner: Justin MacDonald, Apache Junction football
Justin MacDonald is in his first few months as coach of the Apache Junction football team after taking over for Rich Milligan. He talks to the Coaches Corner about the experience thus far.
Q: How has the change gone from the triple-option to the spread offense?
A: It’s been smooth. We’ve tried to really focus on things we can do, not try to overload the guys. We want to get good at a few things before we continue to install more of what we’re doing. We probably have about 20 percent of what we plan to do installed, and that’s OK. The guys understand the concepts.
Q: What are the benefits of playing a variety of schools in the summer passing leagues?
A: It’s good to expose them to larger schools and more established programs. We want to have them come out and compete with those guys and prove and establish that we’re going to be a class program.
Q: How has it been taking over as the head guy?
A: I’ve been pleased with how everything’s gone. I think that it’s about setting realistic expectations. Some of the focus for spring ball was to come out and be organized. When we say something is unacceptable, we show them. Sometimes people will say something is unacceptable, but then accept it. We’ve gotten a really tremendous response from these guys. When you hold them accountable, sometimes it’s uncomfortable when you do that, and kids are going to quit or step up to the bar. Across the board, they’ve stepped up.
Q: Who is going to be your starting quarterback next year?
A: Brett Darling, he’s a sophomore. This is a total coincidence, but I train quarterbacks on the side, and before (taking over at A.J.) was ever a conception in anybody’s mind, he was one of my clients. We probably trained for two months, and the next session was, “Hey, by the way, I’m your new coach.” It’s actually pretty nice and he’s going to fit right in with what we are doing.