The road back home


Photo by Celeste Hayes

Written by Jake Pyatt, Sports Editor

With 11 former players on this year’s football coaching staff, it gives an interesting dynamic to this year’s team.

Head coach Cory Nenaber played football for the Aztecs before graduating in 1997.

“My senior year I played tackle and defensive end,” Nenaber said.

Hired before the 2014 season, Nenaber always intended to return to the school he calls home.

Nenaber was a coach under former head coach Gary Venturo. He left to become the head coach and athletic director at Maricopa before coming back to Corona to become the head coach.

“Coming back to Corona was a dream come true,” Nenaber said. “This has always been my dream job, and even when I left to go to Maricopa, I always kept an eye on Corona.”

Former Corona students on this year’s staff also include Sean Thornton, Dusty Nenaber, Sebastian Bernal, Mike Pollak, Justin Clare, Brandon Sisson, Billy Woodmansee, Preston Claytor, Chase Cartwright, and Craig Fugate.

Thornton, who graduated in 2002, originally came back to Corona to teach but was glad to become a part of the coaching staff.

“I originally was placed at Corona to do my student teaching and I was excited to be at a place that was familiar to me,” Thornton said. “After I was placed at Corona as a student teacher, Tom Joseph hired me as an assistant coach on JV, and I have been with the program since then.”

Thornton acknowledges where all their coaching roots come from.

“We all had the privilege of playing under Coach (Gary) Venturo.  We learned a lot from Coach Venturo both about football and about life,” Thornton said. “We are taking those lessons, which have had a great impact on our lives, and passing them on to the players in the program.”

Pollak, who graduated in 2002, went on to play for ASU and then play in the NFL for seven years.

“I had a good experience here,” Pollak said. “Just to be able to climb the ranks and reach the level of the NFL, that’s every kid’s dream.”

Pollak credits Nenaber for being a big influence to getting him to play football.

“Coach Nenaber was a big influence of getting me to play,” Pollak said. “He always (hinted) that when I was done in the pros that I was going to come help out his offensive line.”

Nenaber sees many changes from when he played at Corona to the current team.

“Some of the differences are the fact that the state of Arizona has open enrollment,” Nenaber said, “When I played you went to the school in your neighborhood, the only other option was to go to a private school. Today, with open enrollment, the landscape has changed.”