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Spanish Springs names new football coach
by Dan Eckles
Jan 24, 2014 | 1484 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Spanish Springs High School athletic department announced in an email press release Friday afternoon that it had hired Eric Borja to fill its vacant head football coaching position. 

Borja, a 1991 McQueen High graduate, had been an assistant at the northwest Reno school for the past nine years, handling a variety of responsibilities during his tenure there, including a stint the last two years as the Lancers' offensive coordinator.

"The bottom line is, when a head coaching job opens in northern Nevada, and they don't open often, and it's a good one, if you want to be a head coach and you're ready to go, you'd better go for it," Borja said.

Spanish Springs athletic director Art Anderson said the school had more than 20 applicants for the position, which opened last month after former coach Scott Hare, stepped down after eight years on the Cougars' sideline, to take over the football program at Mesa High in suburban Phoenix.

Anderson said a screening process narrowed the field to five finalists, who were interviewed Wednesday and Thursday.

"Truly, what made Eric stand out is he'll be the right fit for Spanish Springs High School," Anderson said. "His football knowledge and the experience he brings from McQueen football and with his weights background, those are the changes we want to focus on here."

Anderson stressed that the high interest level and depth of quality coaching prospects in the applicant pool speaks volumes about Spanish Springs High and the surrounding community.

"This is a fantastic community," Anderson said. "I think people around northern Nevada and the outlying areas know this is a good place to be and want to be a part of it. That showed in the quality people and interest we had in the position."

The Cougars' AD pointed out a hiring committee of SSHS administrators, school staff and athlete's parents comprised a 10-person hiring committee.

In addition to his coaching tenure at McQueen, Borja, who competed in track and earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Miami (Florida), also coached at Reno High and was a graduate assistant at Div. II Chadron State College in Nebraska when he returned to school to get his master's degree. 

"It's always interesting to see how people move through the ranks and that's my story," Borja said. "When you get into coaching, you have to decide if you want to be a head coach and if that's the route you want to go ... When your opportunity comes, you have to be ready to go. I leave a great school and a great program in McQueen, but I leave for a great opportunity."

Borja talked a bit about X's and O's in a telephone interview Friday afternoon, but stressed he is not stuck on implementing any specific schemes. So what would he like to run?

"That sounds like a simple question, but it isn't," he said. "You have to evaluate what's going on at the school. That dictates the philosophy you follow ... We're going to have to evaluate what we've got and what's best for the program, the coaches and kids. Offensively, we'll go with whatever scores points. Defensively, we better figure out a way to slow down these offenses and we'd better be flexible."

Borja, who had also previously served as athletic director at McQueen, will be leaving MHS and taking a full-time teaching position at Spanish Springs. The new coach is expected to teach weights, but has also taught PE, health and history in the past. Still, due to school district policy, he likely won't move to SSHS until the start of the 2014-15 school year.

"(Highly successful McQueen) Coach (Ken) Daulton had one ideal I thought was important. He taught weights, but he also taught business. He said the kids always respect you little bit more if they see you in the classroom too. I always held that to be true."

Borja is expected to meet with Spanish Springs athletes in the coming weeks and soon after put together a plan for the school's spring and summer program.
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