Derby football defensive coordinator change

Saying the last 12 months have been a whirlwind for Austin Wuthrich might be an understatement.

The former Eureka and Rose Hill coach joined Brandon Clark’s staff last summer as a position coach. Following Mitch Pontious’ departure for an administrative role at Derby Middle School, he’ll take over as defensive coordinator for the 2019 season.

“It was surprising when Clark decided to put his trust in me to take over defense,” Wuthrich said. “There are a lot of good guys on the defensive staff that have been here a long time. It definitely was a ‘wow’ moment.”

Wuthrich is entering his 12th season coaching football, spending years as the head coach and defensive coordinator at Eureka (2008-12) and five years as an assistant at Rose Hill (2013-17).

He joins a long track record of coaches who have found success both at Derby and their new roles.

Defensive coordinators under head coach Brandon Clark 
  Years at DerbyCurrent position
 Joel Applebee 2006-09 Mill Valley HC 
Shelby Wehrman2010  Cheney HC 
  Caleb Smith2011-12 Valley Center administration
 Cade Armstrong


 Andover HC 
 Mitch Pontious 2017-18 to become Derby MS asst. principal
 Austin Wuthrich present beginning 2019 season

Clark shared that Pontious and Wuthrich’s friendship played a part in his initial hire and he saw how that relationship built a strong foundation in his first year with the program.

“Xs and Os wise, [Austin] knows a lot,” the Derby head coach said. “To be a good coach, he’s watching film in the offseason and he’s learning and getting better. He already knows a ton and is bettering himself every day.”

While tweaks might be made along the way, Wuthrich said he doesn’t want to detract from what he believes has made Derby football a mainstay in Class 6A.

“You saw through last season how we all evolved and changed [from week to week],” he said. “We’ll continue on that same path, but it’s always about doing what we can with the guys we have and putting them in the best schemes to succeed.”

Pontious, who first arrived at Derby in time for its 2013 state championship, is eager to explore the administrative world. He’ll replace Mandy Rohr at DMS, who’s retiring at the end of this school year.

“I have a love of the educational process and sports play right into that,” Pontious said. “That’s a cog in the wheel for kids as an extracurricular activity. All of my experiences as a teacher and a coach have led me to this. I love the big picture and the logistic side of all of the organization and planning.”

Pontious’ move to Derby Middle School is bittersweet for Clark, but he said it’s a natural fit.

“Mitch is a born leader and that’s why he’s moving up to administration,” Clark said. “He’s special and I wish I could keep him on our staff forever, but he’s got bigger and better things in front of him.”