Page High School has a new head football coach.
Mitchell Stephens is from east Texas. Stephens loves Texas and the life he has there and never imagined he’d leave his home state. The first time he visited Arizona was last April when he traveled to Page to interview for the open head football coach position.
“I believe God called me to Page, America,” he said. “I know that may sound weird, but I feel like I’ve been brought here for a reason.”
Stephens began his football coaching career 10 years ago at the age of 22. This is his first time as a head coach. In addition to his position as head coach he’ll also be calling the offense for the Sand Devils.
Stephens comes from Houston, where he was the assistant coach for Texas City High School. He’s thrilled to make the move from assistant coach to head coach.
“It’s been my life-long dream to be a head coach,” he said. “I grew up playing football. I wanted to play college football, but by the time I was 16, I realized I wasn’t going to play college.”
Stephens stands five feet, nine inches tall, and weighs 160 pounds and he knew he wasn’t likely to find a spot on a college football team. But football was his passion and he didn’t want to give it up. It was his high school football coach who suggested he get into coaching.
“From the time I was 16 I knew what I wanted to be,” he said. “I didn’t waste time in college but got through it as quickly as I could.”
Stephens’ motto for this season is “Hate to lose.”
“I want my players to apply this throughout their lives, not just on the football field,” he said. “I want my players to strive for college scholarships, score high on their SATs, strive to be school valedictorian.”
Ultimately, Stephens wants to be a role model and play a positive role in the future of his players.
“My head coach was a huge influence in my life,” he said. “He emphasized that the lessons we learned on the football field translate directly into our greater life.
“Qualities like dedication, perseverance, hard work and teamwork. I want to be the kind of coach to my players that my coach was to me.”
Stephens said he’s very encouraged by his team’s core players and their enthusiasm and commitment to the game.
“We have a really good group of returners,” he said. “They seem very dedicated to the program and to winning. I ask them to do a lot and they do it without complaining. We had 20-30 people turn out for summer workout, which is voluntary. I had some guys show up every day for summer workouts and every day for practice and they won themselves a spot on the varsity team. I have a soft spot for those kids.”
Stephens believes his team will have a successful season.
“This is not a rebuilding year for us,” he said. “Coach [Jeff] Wheatley put together a really strong team last year, and we’re going to progress forward from last year.”
Coach Stephens has his eye on a state title.
“I’ve noticed that the gym has a lot of championship banners, but only one of them from football,” he said. “Before I’m done here, I want another football banner hanging in the gym.”
The Sand Devils football season begins this Friday with a home game against the Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.