After 12 years of coaching football, with seven of those years at the high school level, Trojans coach Joe Clayton is stepping down as head football coach at the high school.
As a Trojan, his record in the last three years was 9-19. In 2012 he took the Trojans to the playoffs, which was the first time they went since 2006.
Clayton said he was stepping down to take some time off and also because his two sons will be going to college and he has to concentrate on paying for that.
“I will still be teaching. I may be looking for another job with twins going to college,” Clayton said. “Coaching doesn’t pay for college. And really to be a part of their events, my family has sacrificed so much.”
He talked about his goal when he first started coaching football.
“The one goal I had when I started coaching football here in Pahrump was to build confidence in these kids and in the community,” he said. “Nothing accomplishes that better than football. We no longer play not to lose but we compete to win. My goal was reached because everyone in Vegas now knows that this program is for real and we compete.”
Clayton feels he has worked really hard to restore the respect these young men deserve and now he would like to move into the next step of his life with his family. His family is growing up, and it requires more responsibility on his part and coaching would not allow him to take care of that responsibility.
“I think the timing is good with my boys going to college,” Clayton said. “I put off so much because of football. Things like my house. There really is no good time to do this. I kept on looking at the other classes, looking for a good time to leave and I really couldn’t find an ideal time. I just don’t want it to seem like I am bailing because my sons are done. It’s nothing like that.”
The longtime coach was also concerned about who replaces him.
“I really want my replacement to be a good choice,” he said. “Not that they would just pick anyone. The problem is our budget does not allow us to hire new teachers. So, we won’t be hiring anyone else. It will have to be in-house. It’s up to them, but I want the program to be successful.”
This may not be the end for Clayton. He wants to spend some time with the family because a little bit of him is burned out, but that does not mean he quits coaching forever.
“I have thought about college football,” he said. “I love the game. I go back and forth with it. I want to be part of the game. There is so much that goes into the game that sometimes takes you away from it and it makes it more of a stressful job.”
For Clayton the hardest part of coaching to him is the hours he put into it.
“It is like working two full-time jobs,” Clayton said. “People look at it as a fun thing or a part-time thing and that is so far from the truth. First of all, we give up our summers. We are game planning all the way though the fall and thinking of Xs and Os way in advance just to compete at this level. It requires just as much time as my full-time job. It’s tough just to do well at both, because of that and a lot of people don’t realize how much time coaching takes.”
Clayton started at the ground up and has coached at all levels, Pop Warner, middle school and high school. He realized early on that you have to be organized because you are limited in time.
“Part of that organization is just me,” he said. “I like to be organized. This was one of my strengths. I matched coaches to their strengths. I put guys in spots where they would best help the team. It really helped me coming in as an assistant in the program.”
His fondest memory as a coach was watching the younger kids grow into men.
“I truly had an opportunity as a high school coach to coach many of the boys when they were 8 and 9 years old,” Clayton said. “Sam Tucsnak for example and my boys. I got to truly watch them grow. Football always talks about growing these boys into young men. I have coached them since they were little boys.”
He said the best game he ever coached was this year.
“The best game in the last three years that I ever coached would have to be the Sierra Vista game,” he said. “There hasn’t been a bigger game of a team 6-2 and tied for first coming in to play us and it felt good to deny them the win.”
Clayton believes his team could have beaten any team this year. He felt the league was pretty equal.
“The timing for us was bad,” the coach said. “We were banged up against Boulder City and if we had not had those injuries it would have changed everything. The Mojave game could have been different.”
TJ Milk, the Trojans quarterback, will miss his old coach next year.
“Joe basically turned the football program around to have a winning mentality,” Milk said. “I think if he had to leave his mark that is what it would be, turning around the program. The guy gained respect for our football program.
He said he will miss his coach’s friendship the most.
“I will miss just being able to talk to him. He was someone I could talk to about stuff,” he said.
Clayton wanted everyone that helped him with the program to know how much he appreciated them all.
“Thanks to everyone that helped over the years, it was a fun ride. Go Trojans,” he said.