weather icon Clear

Longtime Desert Pines football coach steps down, replacement named

Longtime Desert Pines football coach Tico Rodriguez announced Monday he is stepping down. The school announced Jose Flores, who spent last season as a Jaguars assistant, will take over for Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said he wanted to spend more time with his family and two young children. He said having a successor lined up was important.

“I was at a point where — to do this job, it takes a lot of time and it takes a lot of focus,” Rodriguez said. “I noticed my focus was drifting more towards my family and I always wanted to give Desert Pines kids my best. I wanted to make sure that the program was in good hands and didn’t just want to resign and leave the program with the unknown.”

Rodriguez, 51, has coached at Desert Pines for 23 years. He became the head coach in 2013 after serving as an assistant. He has an 86-27 record during his 11 years as head coach.

Desert Pines won back-to-back 3A state titles in 2016 and 2017 under Rodriguez. He said the 2016 championship was the highlight of his tenure. The Jaguars won the title with a senior class that were freshmen in Rodriguez’s first year as head coach.

“We had some gut-wrenching losses to Moapa Valley (in 2014 and 2015) and then to see them finally win in their senior year was the pinnacle of my coaching career,” Rodriguez said. “They finally got through and they got the state championship.”

Four Desert Pines players have appeared in the NFL during Rodriguez’s tenure and dozens more signed to play Division I football. Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Darnell Washington, New Orleans Saints defensive back Jordan Howden and Cleveland Browns linebacker Tony Fields are all on active NFL rosters.

“The highest achievement is to be a pro and you’re lucky if you have one guy do that,” Rodriguez said. “But to have four, it’s very special.”

Flores was an assistant at Utah Tech, Western New Mexico and Victor Valley College before joining Desert Pines last season.

“I’m really excited and just want to kind of build on what Tico has done here and kind of just elevate the program even more,” Flores said. “The family atmosphere is what I really liked here that he’s created.”

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on X.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.