Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

Owen steps down as head football coach at ML

Two seasons with no wins told him job was not getting done


November 23, 2017

Mo Owen, seen here in preseason, has resigned his position as Medical Lake head football coach after a pair of 0-9 campaigns.

Following back-to-back winless seasons, Medical Lake head football coach Mo Owen resigned his position Nov. 8.

Owen, contacted for an interview, instead offered an emailed response. When asked how he knew the job needed to be in the hands of someone else he wrote, "By the end of the year we just weren't getting the job done."

Owen, hired in the spring of 2016 following the retirement from coaching of Wes Hobbs, said at the time it had been a dream to try being a head coach after years serving under Lakeside's Brian Dunn. His Cardinal teams were a collective 0-18.

Owen also worked as an assistant at Auburn and Shadle Park. He was an Eastern Washington University grad who played football in 1996–1997 and served under Dick Zornes as a student assistant.

"We had our typical postseason meetings - we sit down with all of our head coaches - and discuss how the season went, positives, areas for growth," Medical Lake athletics director Justin Blayne said.

In that discussion Owen told Blayne, "I've been thinking a lot about this program, I care about it deeply, and feel at this point it's in the best interests of the program for me to resign."

Medical Lake football has struggled since John Giannandrea ended his 23-year career following the 2003 season with a 124-104-2 won-lost record. The Cardinals' last winning season came in 2012 with a playoff-qualifying 6-3 team under Hobbs, but before that it was the 10-1 mark from Giannandrea in his final year.

There are multiple challenges with the sport in the first place, Blayne explained, most notably the concern from parents over safety and long-term health issues.

"How do we maximize getting all of our kids that should be playing football to participate," Blayne said. "That is no easy task."

"It requires conversations with kids to create that opportunity, and beating the streets to start talking to students," Blayne said. "Create those opportunities and get them involved; create the atmosphere where they want to be involved even if they are not that diehard."

The next hiring process will have a high level of stakeholder involvement, Blayne said.

The plan is to broaden the scope of the people on the hiring team, including those currently connected with the program, parents and even current players.

"What is it going to take to find an individual who can propel some change into this program?" Blayne said is one of the goals.

Owen remains on staff as an English and history teacher so finding his replacement is also a challenge as it may or may not include a teaching job.

"Sometimes when we hire for head coaching positions there are teaching jobs," Blayne said. "It's so early right now in the school year that obviously we don't know what our staff looks like next year."

The first priority is to slow down and build a solid hiring team, then post the job to hopefully attract a pool of applicants The hire needs to be done in time to land a coach who can start the job of, as Blayne said, "Rebuilding a program that's in a difficult position right now."

Paul Delaney can be reached at


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