Meadowdale names Harmon as its new football coach

Defensive coordinator takes over Mavericks
By David Pan | Jul 18, 2019
Courtesy of: James Harmon James Harmon, Meadowdale’s defensive coordinator for the last three years, was named the team’s new head football coach last week.

You can take the interim label off of James Harmon’s official job title.

Harmon, who was tapped as Meadowdale’s interim head football coach after former coach Matt Leonard resigned in mid-June, was named head coach last week.

“I’m just really excited and overjoyed with the opportunity,” said Harmon, the defensive coordinator under Leonard, who left to accept a coaching and teaching position in Texas.

Harmon said that he thought his energy and excitement for the job is what made him stand out during his interviews with Meadowdale principal David Shockley, athletic director Beth Marriott, school staff, parents and students.

“It’s something I’m passionate about,” Harmon said. “I hope they saw a genuine interest in student-athletes. I care for them. I want the best for them.”

Harmon is an elementary physical education teacher in the Edmonds School District. He teaches at a number of different schools. Harmon previously taught physical education and coached football in New Mexico.

In addition to his defensive coordinator duties, Harmon also has been a position coach on both offense and defense. He coached the offensive line during the Mavericks’ run to the state semifinals in 2016. He also has worked with just about every position on the defensive side.

Harmon plans to turn over his defensive coordinator responsibilities to assistant coach Michael Cooke, who has been handling the linebackers.

“He’s driven like me. I feel comfortable giving him the defense,” Harmon said. “He and I are going to work closely.”

Meadowdale’s new coach plans to assume the offensive coordinator duties this fall (Leonard previously called the plays) and Harmon already is making changes. The pass-oriented Mavericks are shifting to a ground-oriented offense.

“We’re going to be a run first team,” Harmon said. “We have a number of formations that are different than the spread formations. Our focus is on controlling the line of scrimmage and grinding it out. Previously at Meadowdale we threw to open up running lanes. It’s the opposite now. We’re running the ball to set up pass plays.”

The change is designed to get the most out of two-time, all-league senior quarterback Hunter Moen.

“He’s a special one. We want to give him the best opportunity to throw the football,” Harmon said. “The best way is to keep the defense on its toes. … We may not throw as often. But I think we will be just as efficient or more efficient in the passing game.”

The shift in emphasis on the ground was introduced to the players right after Leonard stepped down and before Harmon was officially named as his replacement.

“The coaches and I met … I talked about my vision for the team,” Harmon said. “I was hopeful that I would be the next coach.”

The new offense was installed during three regularly scheduled practices at the high school and then the Mavericks continued to work on it during team camp at Evergreen State College.

“Our kids are grasping the concepts,” Harmon said. “We want the offensive line to play fast and play mean. It’s simpler up front. The focus is on blocking people.”

The transition under Harmon has been aided by the return of every member of Leonard’s staff.

“It was of the utmost importance,” Harmon said of the continuity. “We’ve really become close as a staff. We’ve worked really well for a number of years. Everybody is on board.”

Leonard described Meadowdale as a playoff-ready team and Harmon agrees. He noted that four out of the five linemen are seniors and the Mavericks have a number of outside threats among their skill players.

“I really feel we’re going to be competitive,” Harmon said. “Every year we’re trying to get the Wesco championship and make a run at a state championship. We have a lot of talented kids.”

Leonard’s departure shook up the team but also some good also came as a result.

“Some players stepped up and became leaders. This adversity forced them to,” Harmon said. “That makes us proud as coaches.”

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