Devin Dourisseau

Head coach Devin Dourisseau has high hopes for his first season as head coach of the Fighting Lobos, including reaching the postseason for the first time since 2008. (Photo courtesy Joseph Ortiz)

Devin Dourisseau has been the defensive coordinator for the La Joya Community High School varsity football team for the last seven years.

In his inaugural season in 2012, the Fighting Lobos finished 1-9. In 2018, they went 7-3, snubbed of their first playoff appearance since 2008. Dourisseau has seen a mixed bag of results in his time at La Joya: Four seasons below .500, one at 5-5 and two ending in winning records.

The Fighting Lobos are committed to building off their 2018 program, and have made a corresponding move to prove it: Hiring Dourisseau as the program’s head coach in January.

Former head coach Josh Mitchell, who had occupied the post since 2012 and hired Dourisseau as his defensive coordinator that fall, stepped down at the conclusion of last season. It was believed that Mitchell “felt he had run his course” as the school’s head coach, according to Dourisseau, but he did leave the position on good terms.

Dourisseau, who is entering his rookie season as a high school head coach, is eager to up the ante of the Fighting Lobos program this fall.

“I’m excited about our quarterback, Miguel Valdovinos. Last year, he threw for about 2,800 yards as a junior, seven touchdowns, and he was voted Offensive Player of the Year in our district.

“Zachary Blackwood, too, who was a sophomore last year. He’s really matured, really showcased his talents,” Dourisseau said of Blackwood, who racked up a team-high 58 tackles in 10 games last year.

“I’ve got some talent on both sides that I’m excited about.”

Off the field, Dourisseau wants to incorporate the community more. In order to truly become a great football school, Dourisseau reasons, all parties have to be involved: Players, coaches and the surrounding community.

“Because it’s La Joya Community High School,” he said, putting extra emphasis on community, “I’m trying to get the community involved. I have sent out letters inviting them to our meet and greet on April 27, where you come out and meet the coaching staff. I really want to invite the community out to be a part of what’s going on because you need that community support.”

It’s Dourisseau’s program now, and he’s thrilled to put his own spin on it. Aside from welcoming the community with open arms, he also wants to put Fighting Lobos football on the map as a “powerhouse” in the West Valley.

In years past, when the Fighting Lobos have struggled to win games, football players who should be attending La Joya are electing to take their talents elsewhere. Instead, they attend neighboring high school with better football programs.

The new Fighting Lobos skipper wants to put an end to that immediately.

“I want to change the perception of La Joya football. I want us to be a powerhouse school. I want to take us to the next level. I want to be the Millennium, the Desert Edge, the Centennial of the West. I think we can do that, and it starts at the top with me.

“I want kids to want to come to La Joya.”

Among a list of “20 applicants” for the school’s head coaching vacancy, Dourisseau has a hunch as to why he was the last man standing. He’s a part of the La Joya community already – as a science teacher at school and also living in the neighborhood.

His children went to La Joya, his son played quarterback years ago for the Fighting Lobos and, frankly, he’s been here for this long already that he’s seen a majority of his current student athletes grow up.

“Anybody can talk about Xs and Os, but I think it’s how my ability to relate to the kids and be a part of the community and the kids being able to relate to me and know what I’m all about.”

The groundwork of flipping the culture of La Joya football on its head must start in spring camp. Dourisseau and the Fighting Lobos will open up their spring football schedule from April 29 through May 10.

They’ll also begin summer workouts the first week of June, and in the middle of the month they’ll travel to San Diego State University to participate in seven-on-seven competitions.

The Fighting Lobos’ official first day of practice is set for July 29.

Last season, La Joya was robbed of a playoff appearance. A 7-3 record was not impressive enough, Dourisseau was told by the Arizona Interscholastic Association, because it lacked any signature wins.

This year, to avoid missing the postseason for the eleventh consecutive season, the Fighting Lobos have three games circled on their schedule: Marquee matchups against Chaparral, Basha and Westview.

Winning two of three of those games will almost certainly lock up a playoff berth, given La Joya is able to cross its Ts and dot its Is elsewhere on the schedule.

“I’m the face of this organization that I’ve already been a part of, and I take that seriously. When your name is attached to something, you definitely want to make sure that you have your best foot forward and you take care of all the business,” he said.

In an effort to get the community invested in what the Fighting Lobos are building, Dourisseau is putting on a Future Lobos Youth Football Camp on April 23 through April 26, aimed at getting children involved in the sport.

The community is also invited to participate in the program’s meet and greet on April 27, where the new coaching staff and administration will be on full display explaining upcoming community service activities, information about the Lobo’s Booster Club and more.

For more information about both events, contact Dourisseau at devin.dourisseau@tuhsd.org.