For the first time in more than a decade, Mountain Ridge football will have a new coach.
On Dec. 13 the school hired Vince Ciliberti as the new coach. He replaces Bobby Green who resigned in November shortly after completing his 11th season.
It will be Ciliberti’s first head coaching job. He has been the offensive coordinator at Pinnacle for most of Dana Zupke’s coaching career at that northeast Phoenix school.
“I have been preparing to become a head coach for the last few years, this is not something that I rushed into. I did not want to just apply everywhere and take the first job that became available. Mountain Ridge is a school that focuses on rigorous academics in addition to making the commitment to excellence in athletics. The community is known to be supportive and I felt that I can make a difference in the lives of the student athletes on and off the field,” Ciliberti said Friday.
Before taking over the program in 2006, Coach Green served as defensive coordinator for Steve Belles. Green finished with a 48-62 record and playoff berths from 2006-2010.
While Pinnacle’s fortunes rose this decade and Mountain Ridge’s fell, Coach Ciliberti remembers the five matchups between the two schools in the last six years as being tight struggles.
“Whenever we played Ridge we knew that we were in for a 4 quarter long battle. I specifically remember playing a game at Ridge in 2011, where we came into that game 6-0 and they were 2-4. The atmosphere was intense and they played us hard right down to the wire,” Coach Ciliberti said. “We ended up driving the length of the field to kick the game winning field goal as time expired but they sure did make it difficult. It’s that atmosphere and that inner fight that drew me to this school. “
Pinnacle claimed region titles in three of the last four years, developing a reputation for its passing attack. Ciliberti became noticed for his work with quarterbacks Brian Lewerke (now at Michigan State) and Spencer Rattler (a national recruit entering his junior season in 2017).
Mountain Ridge athletic director Junior Michael said Friday that Coach Ciliberti has all the qualities the school is looking for in order to grow the football program
“He is young, motivated, and has extensive football knowledge. In addition, Coach Ciliberti has experience in developing youth programs and will be a great addition to our instructional staff next year. More importantly Coach Ciliberti is coming from a successful program, at a school that resembles Mountain Ridge,” Mr. Michael said.
He said between 30 and 40 candidates expressed interest in the job. Coach Ciliberti said the administration’s commitment to building a winning program was a major draw.
But the new coach said the goal is more to focus on the building process than the records
“My ultimate goal is to create better humans for having come through this program. In everything we do, we will do it with character. We will work harder, we will connect with our teammates and coaches, we will believe in ourselves and each other and we will be prepared in our approach and our execution,” Coach Ciliberti said. “As far as for on the field, we will take the approach that I have always taken with all of my teams. My ultimate goal is to put pressure on the opposing team, we will always be on the attack in all aspects of how we play. “
Mr. Michael said he also believes in this overall approach to the program.
“Continuing the work of coach Green and staff, we want the football program to be known for displaying excellence on and off the field. In addition, we want the program to be a huge part of our community and something our community can be proud of,” Mr. Michael said.