Matt Johnson is stepping down at Ironwood Ridge after a successful run with perhaps one of his finest coaching performances taking place this past fall after he took a 1-3 team to a 5A Southern Region title.
“It has been a great ten years and it is time to move on. I want everyone to know that I have nothing but love for the kids of IRHS, the parents, and the administrators I have worked with. This decision is not related to our excellent admin team,” Johnson said in a social media posting.
“While I do plan on continuing to coach, I do not know where or in what capacity. I may be an assistant next year,” Johnson added.
Johnson played for legendary football coach Vern Friedli at Amphitheater before moving on to play for NAU in 1992. Johnson served as an assistant under Friedli from 1997 to 2000, was an assistant at Coconino and then returned to assist at Amphitheater again in 2002. He moved on to be the head coach at Rincon/University for four years before returning to assist at Amphitheater once again. Johnson coached at Catalina Foothills in 2008 before another local football legend, Will Kreamer, hired him to replace Gary Minor at Ironwood Ridge where he’s been since 2009.
Johnson played in a state title game as a lineman at Amphitheater in 1990 and he coached the Nighthawks to a 13-1 season and defeated state-power Centennial 27-3 to win a state championship in 2012. In all, Johnson accumulated 104 wins as a head coach.
He coached players such as 2012 Ed Doherty winner Tyler Williams and former University of Arizona standout Jake Fischer.
Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017 and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is the Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Contact Andy Morales at