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Helix coaching job tops openings

01/06/2016, 7:53pm PST
By Don Norcross

Highlanders program remains strong with one losing season in past 40 years

Helix players celebrate a touchdown en route to last month's San Diego Section Open Division title.

In the last 40 seasons of varsity football at Helix High, the Highlanders have suffered exactly one losing season. In 2005, the Scotties posted a 2-7-1 record.

Other than Jim Arnaiz’s 4-4 campaign in 1976, it’s been nothing but winning for Helix across the past four decades. Now Athletic Director Damon Chase, himself a Helix grad, is looking to hire a new football coach at one of the county’s most successful programs.

“Obviously we have a strong football tradition at Helix,” said Chase. “We want someone who will not only be a great coach but a great teacher as well.”

After Troy Starr surprisingly announced his resignation in October, effective the end of the season, the job officially opened on Dec. 8. It closes Jan. 15. Chase said there have been 22 applicants, some from inside the county, some from outside the state.

In Starr’s eighth and final season, Helix finished 11-2, losing to Mission Viejo 32-28 in the regional state bowl championships.

For now, more is known about who has not applied for the job. Longtime Madison coach Rick Jackson (108-34 the past 12 seasons) has not applied and said he will not. Jackson is also the athletic director at Madison and teaches biology.

“I’m happy at Madison,” Jackson said.

Longtime Helix defensive coordinator Sam Friend, the school’s athletic equipment attendant, has not applied. Nor has Bonita Vista coach Chris Thompson, who guided the Barons to the school’s first section championship in its 49-year varsity history.

Thompson, though, did say, “there’s an interest” on his part in the Helix job, which includes a teaching position.

Interestingly, for the second straight season the head coach of football’s Open Division champion has stepped down. After the 2014 season, Oceanside head coach John Carroll resigned for health reasons. Starr, 53, has not cited specific reasons for resigning, though his wife has battled health issues.

“It’s a school that’s been good for a long time,” said Starr, who plans to continue teaching physical education at Helix. “It was good before I got here, it was good while I was there and hopefully will be good after I leave. It’s a great school. It’s a blue-collar community, a charter school with a really supportive administration.”

Oceanside and Helix are the gold standards for high school football in San Diego County. Helix has suffered the one losing season in the past 40 years, while Oceanside has suffered eight, the most recent was 1996.

Oceanside’s trophy case, though, is filled with more section titles. The Pirates have won 14 titles in the past 40 years compared with Helix’s eight.

Back to school

Citing family issues, Jason Carter has stepped down as the varsity football coach at La Jolla. Carter, 33, said he plans to return to school at Texas A&M and finish his undergraduate degree. Carter said he’s 12 units shy of earning his degree.

Carter has two sons, 9 and 3, and said they’re the main reasons he’s returning to college. His oldest son is named Ja’kar, and Carter said he recently had the following conversation with Ja’kar.

“Dad, did you graduate from college?”

“Not yet, son.”

“Isn’t it important?”

“You know, it’s (darn) important.”

“When are you going to do it?”

Added Carter, “He said to me, ‘You told me when I was little that you were going to finish college. Isn’t it about time?’”

Carter coached at La Jolla the past three seasons, posting a 14-21 record. The Vikings have had one winning season in the past 11 years.

A former wide receiver, Carter spent parts of three seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers. He also played one season with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL.

Other openings

In addition to Helix and La Jolla, there are also football coaching vacancies at Vista, El Camino, Westview and Escondido. Joe Meyer filled the opening at Rancho Buena Vista.


Records of the last four Helix High football coaches:

Coach / Years / Record

Jim Arnaiz / 1973-1999 / 213-77-11

Gordon Wood / 2000-2003 / 46-6

Donnie Van Hook / 2004-2007 / 30-14-3

Troy Starr / 2008-2015 / 83-18-1

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