Scooter Molander, who starred in the Tempe district as a quarterback at Corona del Sol in the 1980s, is returning to that district to become Phoenix Desert Vista’s head football coach.
He is leaving Mesa Eastmark after leading the Firebirds to their first 3A championship last fall. His son Mack, a state champion javelin thrower, led Eastmark at quarterback during his senior season to the title. Scooter Molander started the Queen Creek district school’s program four years ago, rising it to prominence.
Both Desert Vista and Eastmark announced the transition on social media Wednesday morning.
Molander praised the athletics and academic programs at Desert Vista.
“The girls just won the basketball championship, the track program is incredible,” Molander said. “Their academic test scores last year were second in the state. They have a high bar for excellence. I’m honored to have the opportunity to be a part of it.”
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Molander had immediate success at Phoenix Brophy Prep, leading the Broncos to big-school state championships in two of his first three years. His 2005 state championship team was known for “The Drive,” a 99-yard scoring driving in the end that stunned Chandler Hamilton in a 15-14 win in the final. In 2007, his Brophy team beat Desert Vista 34-21 for the state title.
He took Brophy to 11 straight state playoff appearances.
Molander entered the Tempe All-City Sports Hall of Fame in 2021 for his athletic career at Corona del Sol which led to a college football career as a quarterback at Colorado State. He was a three-sport standout at Corona del Sol from 1981-85. He also excelled in basketball and baseball in high school.
This is considered a major hire for Desert Vista, which has struggled with continuity in the last few years.
Desert Vista last won a state title in 2011, under Dan Hinds, who retired after 19 years of leading the program in 2020, suffering through his only winless season during the pandemic year.
Molander marks the third head coach in three years since Hinds retired as football coach. Ty Wisdom and Nate Gill both left after one season. Desert Vista went 2-8 last season and 5-6 two years ago.
There have been player departures at the school, including junior running back Christian Clark, who left last spring to transfer to rival Mountain Pointe, where his recruiting has taken off since the end of last season.
Molander said he will be spending a lot of time this spring during this transition at Desert Vista to get to know people and get spring football ramped up in May.
“We have standards,” Molander said. “We’ve been successful where we’ve been. Nonetheless, every place is different. I need to meet a lot of people, see how they do things. It isn’t my way or the highway. It’s our way. So I need to sit down and listen a lot, and learn a lot. And reach out to all the people that made that place special all the many years.”
It started with Jim Rattay, who, after leading Mesa High to two state titles in the early 1990s, started the Desert Vista football program and led it to a 14-0 state championship season in 1998, when his star player was Bobby Wade.
In 2011, Desert Vista shocked the country with its 45-19 decisive win over Hamilton in the state final, ending the Huskies’ 53-game winning streak.
Waves of players have been leaving Desert Vista in the last two years, but Molander’s track record of producing not only winners but college players should help stabilize and keep kids from leaving the neighborhood for perceived greener pastures.
“Dan Hinds, total class act,” Molander said. “He had that place rocking for a long time, and shocked the world in 2011, when they beat Hamilton.”
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