2016-02-19 / Sports

Raising Arizona: Royal hires football head coach

By Eliav Appelbaum

Matthew Lewis is going from the Grand Canyon State to the Canyon League.

Royal High named Lewis, 41, head coach of the school’s football team, which finished 4-7 in the fall.

“Royal is a very stable and functional football program that’s struggled but has also had some success,” Lewis said in a phone interview with the Simi Valley Acorn. “You walk into a situation where you don’t have to fix everything. The two coaches (Kevin Flye and Gene Uebelhardt) before you did a good job establishing a good foundation.”

Most recently, Lewis was an offensive assistant at Chandler High in Arizona. He’s currently a psychology and world history teacher at McClintock High in the Grand Canyon State.

This is his third head coaching gig. Lewis was previously head coach at McClintock of Tempe from 2011 to 2014; he led an upstart program at Allen Academy in Bryan, Texas, from 2004 to 2006.

Lewis takes over for Flye, who guided the Highlanders for seven seasons. Lewis said he was a finalist for Agoura’s recent opening, which went to Kamran Salem.

Royal’s new coach has roots in the area.

He was a three-sport star in football, basketball and baseball at Viewpoint of Calabasas. He threw the first touchdown pass in Viewpoint history, back when the Patriots played 8-man football, as a sophomore running back/ linebacker in 1990 against Los Angeles Lutheran.

Lewis, who enters his 22nd fall coaching, played football and basketball at Occidental College. He earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from Arizona State.

The Highlander has a diverse coaching background.

He was offensive quality control/ recruiting assistant at California Berkeley in 2000 and 2001. He was an offensive assistant in the Arena Football League for the Buffalo Destroyers, doing grunt work of scouting and editing video. Lewis made a name for himself as offensive coordinator at Saguaro High, helping the Scottsdale powerhouse capture three Arizona state prep championships.

Lewis wants to make Royal the school where quarterbacks and offenses thrive.

“The way I describe it for the kids is if you took Oregon and took Baylor and their aggressive attacking styles and mushed them together—that’s essentially what it should feel like to them,” he said. “Quarterbacks coming into our system can have a lot of fun.”

Lewis and his wife, Michelle, have two daughters: Lindsay, 12, likes playing basketball while Samantha, 9, is into lacrosse.

Lewis will now be thrown into the Royal-Simi Valley rivalry.

“It’s important to have these rivalries,” he said. “A lot of these kids have played on the Simi Valley Vikings (together). . . . If we win, it’s awesome. If we lose, it’s a teachable moment, but not the end of everything. I want them to experience it, play their best— and win.”

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