It happened rather unceremoniously, but there was a changing of the guard last Monday and Tuesday for one of the state’s biggest high...
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Phillip Lopez, who guided the Reedsport wrestling team to several successful seasons, has been hired to coach North Medford.
Lopez, 36, replaces Nolan Harris, who is now an assistant wrestling and football coach at Sprague High, where he is an alumnus.
Lopez, who was hired on Tuesday, was Reedsport's head coach in 2012 and during the 2005-2009 seasons. He was an assistant coach at Southwest Oregon Community College in Coos Bay in 2010 and 2011.
The Braves had state finishes of second, third, fourth and 10th during Lopez's time there.
Reedsport was runner-up to Class 3A Burns at state in 2010.
"He is just the right guy and we are excited about his history and experience on the technical side and with his ability to connect with kids," North athletic director Tim Sam said. "We're just trying to find a way to get him a full-time job on campus now."
Lopez has directed his own wrestling camp since 2006 and has been a technician coach at Oregon State University's camp since 2010. He has also participated in the wrestling programs at Southern Oregon University and SWOCC.
Lopez began his coaching career as an assistant at Willamette High from 1999 until 2003.
Lopez has amassed three prep league coach of the year honors, one prep state coach of the year award and a collegiate regional honor.
"My expectation is to have a hard-nosed team," Lopez said.
Lopez, a 1996 Reedsport High graduate, wrestled for the Braves, SWOCC and at SOU.
Lopez, who is also a freshman football assistant at North, is married with three children.
Harris, a 1999 Sprague graduate, was the head varsity coach at North for six years and was the freshman coach for four seasons. He and his wife Mary, also a 1999 Sprague graduate, both have family in the Salem area.
"It's a good hire," the 33-year-old Harris said. "He's done a great job at Reedsport and I anticipate he will do similar things at North Medford."
Said Lopez: "I have known Nolan and known a lot of people who were involved in the North Medford mat club. They were great people, and the North teams were always competitive and really structured."
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email email@example.com