High School Football

Eagle needed a new football coach. So it turned to the coaching tree of its legendary coach.

Eagle High didn’t have to look far to find its next football coach.

Eagle hired its athletic director, John Hartz, on Monday to take over one of the state’s top football programs from Paul Peterson, who retired in January. His hire is pending school board approval.

Hartz, 48, coached for six seasons under Peterson, including two as the offensive coordinator, before leaving the field and becoming the Mustangs’ athletic director this school year. He’ll step down as athletic director at the end of the school year to focus on football full time.

“I have a huge amount of respect for Paul Peterson and loved what he did,” Hartz said. “I want to continue a lot of things he’s done. Obviously I’ll bring a few new wrinkles, but everything is for the kids. That’s why we do what we do.”

The hire marks Hartz’s first as a head football coach. But he previously led the boys basketball programs at Mountain Home and Timberlake. And he led Eagle’s girls golf team to a 5A state title last spring.

He previously served as a football assistant for 15 years with stops at Mountain Home, Timberlake and American Falls before spending the past decade at Eagle.

Hartz knows he has big shoes to fill following Peterson. But he said he doesn’t plan to change much inside the Mustangs’ football program. Most of the coaching staff will remain in place as Eagle tries to continue its run as a 5A Southern Idaho Conference power.

The Mustangs reached the 5A playoffs each of the last 11 seasons, won eight conference or pod titles and went 109-40 (.732) in 14 years under Peterson.

“The beauty of what we have is I’ve coached with a lot of the coaching staff for many years,” Hartz said. “It’s a great coaching staff and we’ve been able to retain most of the guys. That was something really important to me as I took over.”

Michael Lycklama has covered Idaho high school sports since 2007. He’s won national awards for his work uncovering the stories of the Treasure Valley’s best athletes and investigating behind-the-scenes trends.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.
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