By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Michael Brandy & Jason Olson, DeseretNews.com
Editor’s Note – The TOSH Top 30 is our countdown of the top 30 stories from the 2015-16 school sports year, beginning with No. 30 and counting down, one story a day, to No. 1. The 2015-2016 high school sports year was filled with big performances, both team and individual. The act of narrowing down our initial list of top stories for our TOSH Top 30 stories of the year to just 30 was a difficult task. We asked people all over the state for input into our final list and beginning June 22, we are counting them down in reverse, from story No. 30 to story No. 1. Hopefully your favorite story of the past school year made our list.
Coaching turnover is always an interesting part of the equation at the end of a school year. The No. 5 story in our TOSH Top 30 stories of the year is a number of high-profile coaching retirements and resignations around the state. For some, it’s the end of the run, for now at least, but for others, it’s an unexpected change of address.
#5 – Coaches coming and going
Coaches come and go every year in high school athletics. Some stick around for a long time before finally deciding to step aside and sometimes they provide us with unexpected news. The 2015-2016 high school sports season provided a little of both and that is our No. 5 story in the TOSH Top 30.
Legend Retires in Bountiful
One thing you could always count on in Utah high school football was the presence of Larry Wall on the sideline at Bountiful, where the stadium bears his name. Wall was the longest-tenured coach in the state at the time he stepped down after 31 years on the sidelines.
The retiring Braves’ head coach ended his coaching career with a record of 238-116, a win total bested only by longtime Skyline coach Roger Dupaix (301). Wall led Bountiful to four state titles, interestingly they came in sets of two – in 1990 and 1991 and again in 2002 and 2003. Wall remains at the school as its co-athletic director.
Ending With a Title
Two coaching greats ended their careers with state titles before retiring after the 2015-16 school year. TOSH/Preps Utah girls team coach of the year Jamie Ingersoll of Lehi volleyball ended her long tenure as the Lehi head coach with the team’s first state title since 1979 in that sport.
A Lehi High graduate, Ingersoll headed the program at her alma mater for 12 seasons, 10 of which ended with postseason berths after she inherited a program that was down, having not won a region match in five years. With their state championship win over Pleasant Grove in November, the Pioneers put the perfect cap on a great run for their head coach.
Ingersoll’s husband, Jarod, is the baseball coach at American Fork, where his team also won a state title in 2016. She is stepping down to focus her energies on her family and she will teach at the new Skyridge High School in Lehi beginning in 2016, but will not coach there.
The other coach who is stepping aside directly off a state championship is Logan football’s Mike Favero. His was a circuitous career that saw his teams win five state championships while playing for two different stretches as a Class 4A team, with a stint in 3A in between and most recently, he led the Grizzlies to the 3AA state title in 2015.
His 17-year run as a head coach produced an overall record of 149-60 at Logan and 5-1 record in state championship games, with wins in 2000, 2005, 2007, 2011 and 2015. Favero stated that he was stepping down to spend more time with his family and that he needs a break.
The Pleasant Grove Connection
Two other high-profile football coaching changes meet at Pleasant Grove High.
Initially, Mark Wootton announced that he was ending his 25-year head coaching career when he stepped down at Mountain Crest. It was to bring to a close a career that included 13 years at North Sanpete and another 12 with the Mustangs that produced a 164-102 record. He was 92-45 at Mountain Crest with a 2005 state title and two other trips to the championship game.
At the time of his announcement, Wootton left the door open for a return to coaching but no one knew that the comeback would come immediately. When Les Hamilton suddenly left Pleasant Grove to coach at Summit Academy, Wootton jumped on the chance to move nearer his hometown and accepted the position to return to coaching, as the Vikings head man. Wootton is a 1977 graduate of Provo High School.
Hamilton caught many by surprise when he announced that he was leaving 5A Pleasant Grove to take the head coaching job at 2A’s Summit Academy. Hamilton, who coached previously at Alta, is looking forward to leading the Bears as they grow to a 3A school and eventually, he believes, a 4A program over the next few years.
With a 96-50 record accumulated at four different schools since 2003, Hamilton is used to building programs and this time he inherits one that reached the 2A title game in its third year of existence, as recently as 2014. He has previously been the head coach at Grantsville, Alta and Hunter in addition to his four years at Pleasant Grove.
TOSH Top 30 stories of the year: