Last week it was Logan High football coach Mike Favero. This week it’s Mountain Crest football coach Mark Wootton. On Monday morning Wootton announced to his team that he is stepping down as their head football coach. And he swears the two resignations are not related.
“I tried to talk him out of it,” Wootton said of Favero’s decision. “When he wouldn’t I thought ‘well I’m not going to keep coaching if he’s not going to be there,’” he laughed. “It just kind of happened that way.”
Wootton compiled more wins than any other coach in Mountain Crest history. He took the Mustangs to the 4A state championship game three times, winning it in 2005. He also won seven region titles during his 12 year tenure in Hyrum.
“I don’t know if there’s ever really a good time to step away,” Wootton said on <a href=”http://610kvnu.com/assets/podcaster/321/2016_02_02_321_41598_2867.mp3″ target=”_blank”>KVNU’s Full Court Press radio program Monday</a>, “especially when this is all you know and all your family knows. It’s kind of who you are. But it just felt right for right now.”
Wootton said he began seriously contemplating the decision to step down over the last three months. The school is currently being split in two with its enrollment because of the new Ridgeline High School, plus the Utah High School Athletics Association has told the school that despite the split it must remain in 5A for its athletics. In addition, Wootton said some of his priorities in life came into focus when his good friend and longtime assistant coach Dave Kuresa underwent a lifesaving kidney transplant recently.
“It’s something I could continue to do. I love being around kids, I love being around families,” Wootton said. “If there was another opportunity to do something like that down the road, I’d probably jump at it if it was a good opportunity for me and my family.”
Being able to coach young men, not only on the field but also in life, is something that remains very special to Wootton.
“I saw kids who were in a lot of trouble when we got them and now they’re married, have kids, they are great fathers, great husbands, they work and they’re successful,” he explained. “There wouldn’t be many head coaching jobs out there if everybody knew how many of those experiences happen for you because everybody would want to do it.”
Wootton continued by saying that besides recognizing troubled players himself, often parents sought out his help for their troubled teens.
“Parents get to the point where they get concerned for their kids, they’re worried about them and they’ll call you at night and say, ‘Hey, will you help us? Can you talk to him?’ I’d pick him up and take him out for an ice cream.
“That’s why I’ve been putting weight on all the time because I’m taking them out for an ice cream or something,” he quipped. “What a great opportunity that is, a great tribute when any parent will trust you with their kids. That, to me, is what it’s all about, when a young man can give you a hug and tell you they love you, that’s not natural for a young man to do.”
Additionally, Wootton said he is concerned about the future of Mountain Crest, the school he chose to come to from North Sanpete High School. Wootton was seeing the split happen with Ridgeline and knew how that would affect his football team at Mountain Crest.
“It’s been tough for Mountain Crest because it has been kind of left behind,” he said. “Hopefully, people can rally and get that taken care of.”
“I always wanted to be at Mountain Crest. I talked to the people at Ridgeline early, and I could have gone over there,” he added. “But I came to coach at Mountain Crest and that’s where I always wanted to be.”
As far as who should replace him, Wootton said he may be involved in the process of hiring the next head coach but that would have to be up to the school administration. He does have a recommendation, however.
“Jason Lee came up this past year” Wootton said. “I’ve known him for about 20 years. The kids love him. He’s a fun guy to be around, he’s intense like me. It’s an administrative decision, but if it was my call I would do that just because I know he’s a good coach for those kids.”