Mike Vanderjagt moved his family to Scottsdale, Ariz., last summer to help his son’s athletic potential.
It worked. For Jay and Mike.
A freshman, Jay led the Saguaro High School freshman football team, and started one game for the junior varsity.
His freshman team went 8-1 as Jay completed 59 of 96 passes for 955 yards and 15 touchdowns, with only five interceptions. He ran the ball seven times, gaining 113 yards.
“Jay loves it here and has fit in nicely,” Mike said.
It is also a nice fit for Mike and wife, Janalyn.
Mike became the special teams coach for the Saguaro varsity team. He already had a tie-in to the father of head coach Jason Mohns.
“The head coach’s dad was general manager in Toronto when I played (there) in the Canadian Football League,” Vanderjagt said. “I felt a small connection to the school.”
The Vanderjagts were welcomed into the program, and are very happy to be a part.
“It’s a powerhouse of a football program,” Mike said.
The school has won six of the last eight Division III state championships. The division has schools with enrollments of 1,200 to 1,800 students.
Mohns is very pleased to have Vanderjagt on his staff.
“He worked with the kickers and punters, doing a really good job,” Mohns said. “As the year went on, Mike worked with a freshman kicker who will become a special player as he grew a ton under Mike’s tutelage. Mike ran all facets of the special teams, including kick and punt returners.”
Mohns also looks forward to working with Jay.
“He’s gaining maturity and will keep growing,” Mohns said. “He already is sound mechanically.”
While Mohns said Vanderjagt is mobile and runs well, he sees the freshman more as a mobile pocket-type passer. “I really see how fluid he is when I watch him in basketball,” Mohns said.
Mike Vanderjagt said a late thumb injury in football got Jay off to a slow start in basketball. He plays on the freshman team, and varsity at times.
Mohns likes his football team’s chances to repeat as state champions, especially with running back Christian Kirk, who is a five-star recruit with 25 Division I offers. He not only plays running back, but also is a receiver and defensive back.
“Teams like Notre Dame and Ohio State are the caliber of teams looking at Christian,” Mohns said.
He sees Jay Vanderjagt and junior Kare Lyle as his two quarterbacks, giving Vanderjagt time to develop.
“We also have five to six returners on both sides of the ball,” Mohns said. “We have the opportunity to win again. We are capable.”
The varsity team was honored at the Arizona Cardinals-San Francisco 49ers game on Dec. 29. Mike also surprised Jay with tickets for the BCS championship game between Auburn and Florida State, won by Florida State on Monday night. He was able to purchase tickets through friend Cliff Robinson of Naples, an Auburn grad.
Not a bad start for 2014.