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Former Eastern Arizona College football coach John O'Mera is happy to be back in the Gila Valley and looks forward to coaching the Safford High Bulldogs.

Whether it’s college-level football or high school football, new Safford High School head Coach John O’Mera has the same coaching philosophy.

O’Mera just wants players’ lives to be better on and off the field.

“It’s an excellent opportunity to help young men get a chance to play a great game and develop as future leaders and go out and represent the community,” O’Mera said about coaching at SHS.

“I grew up with a love and hunger for the game and it has never been satisfied,” O’Mera said. “I see football as an opportunity to build character in players that will serve them in all walks of life, as has been the case for me.”

O’Mera has no concerns about making the transition from coaching older athletes to younger ones.

“I don’t feel there is an adjustment going from community college to high school,” O’Mera said. “It’s two opportunities. At the high school level you get kids that you have to develop and build a program and in college, you have to recruit the players. So I feel comfortable that I have a game plan to build a respectable program in Safford.”

Under O’Mera’s direction, EAC’s football program experienced tremendous success, winning 105 games and receiving six bowl invitations with three bowl victories. O’Mera also led the team to win the 2018 WSFL Championship and was named the 2018 WSFL Co-Coach of the Year.

After the 2018 season, EAC eliminated their football program, which prompted O’Mera to head to Tucson, where he coached one season for the Hohokam Junior College Football League.

“It was great coaching in Tucson, but I was too far away from my family. My wife is the principal at Lafe Nelson Elementary School and she is very happy here,” O’Mera said. “I also have a young son who goes to school here in Safford and it makes sense to stay closer to home and be with my family.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, uncertainty continues to swirl around the 2020 fall sports season. It’s already delayed the start of official football practices until at least Aug. 17.

“It’s going to be rough for everyone, not knowing whether you’re going to play or not,” O’Mera said. “I’m taking over a program and I hope it plays out, but whether we play or not, this is still a great opportunity. I get to be involved with this great program and see if I can help make them a little better.”

Bulldogs senior running back/cornerback Eduardo Ogaz is excited to have O’Mera on board to help lead the Bulldogs for the upcoming season.

“Coach O’Mera has a great record, and I know he can help our team out a lot,” Ogaz said. “My only concern is if our team can figure out and understand Coach O’Mera’s coaching style and remember plays and defenses before our first game. Other than that, I feel confident and I trust our new coach and understand that he knows what he is doing, and as a team, we have to trust the process.”

O’Mara said he plans to meet with his team in the next few days and will be going over last season’s game tapes to help prepare him for the upcoming season.

“Due to Coach O’Mera’s junior college coaching, I feel that we could have a great year due to the high level of coaching he has,” said Bulldogs junior quarterback Karson Zimmerman. “There are no promises on us going all the way, but we definitely should have an improvement from last season.

O’Mera does not feel like he has an advantage over the other coaches or teams due to his experience coaching at EAC.

“I respect the decision on hiring Coach O’Mera, and I believe it’s the best opportunity for us and the underclassmen,” said senior cornerback Jared Garcia. “Having Coach O’Mera will benefit us as a team and move us in the right direction.”

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