KINGMAN - In the week leading up the Wickenburg game last Friday, Kingman High coach Greg Tonjes knew it was time to give someone else a chance. The Bulldogs lost their final game with Tonjes in charge on the sideline, 48-29, and he announced to his players afterward that his tenure was over.
Tonjes was named head coach in July 2014 and only had a few weeks to get the team ready for that season. Kingman went 0-11, but opened 2015 with a 15-0 win over Chino Valley. Though improved, the Bulldogs lost their last nine games of the season.
"This year was positive, but I thought we'd be farther along wins-wise," Tonjes said. "The first one I had to look at was myself. What could I have done better? What could I have done differently?"
Despite going 1-20 over his two years, Tonjes was successful in many ways. KHS athletic director John Venenga is one person who is dissatisfied with Tonjes's resignation.
"I was disappointed," Venenga said. "He's done great things for us. It hasn't shown in the wins and losses, but I think next year would have shown us a lot. I can only appreciate all he's done."
The KHS football team only had two sponsors to help the team meet expenses in 2014, but Tonjes secured nearly 30 this past season. He reached into the community with the Bulldogs, who visited the Gardens Rehab and Care Center and its patients the day of every home game.
Tonjes got three freshman games scheduled this season after several years of not playing at that level. Though the coach did all these extraordinary things for the players that wore Kingman's blue and gold, it came down to what transpired on the football field.
"We won a game and that was better than last year. And every offensive and defensive category was way beyond where we were last year," Tonjes said. "But I wish we could have been better in the second half of games and that we were better defensively than we were. We couldn't stop anyone to save our lives."
Tonjes takes his family and heads to San Diego County in California where he has landed a high-level management position with the largest Ford dealership in the area. He's a football coach without a team, and he's promised to remember the community he's just left.
"I'll never forget Kingman," he said. "I'm not letting go of those memories. But they need a new voice, a fresh voice. Someone with a little talent and who looks at football differently."
Venenga said once the high school football playoffs begin to wind down over the next four weeks, the search for Tonjes's replacement will begin.
"We want to get someone on campus who teaches," Venenga said. "We want to get someone in by spring ball so they can start working with our kids. That would be ideal."