Back in blue
AMITY – Call it the Amaya-Magill effect.
As Amity junior Brady Baughman tells it, Warriors basketball coach Justin Amaya approached him at a summer workout.
Amaya had accepted the head coaching position of Amity football in June and was throwing himself head-first into a program on its fifth head coach in five seasons. The message was simple: come play football.
Baughman hadn’t in his first two years at Amity High School. But he knew who was coaching – Joel Magill, a two-time state champion at Amity, as offensive coordinator; Derek Barnett as defensive coordinator; longtime Warriors assistant Mark Keen as junior varsity head coach and varsity assistant; and Amaya, who led Amity boys basketball to a Class 3A West Valley League title and a state tournament berth in 2013-14. Baughman jumped at the chance.
“I don’t regret it one bit,” Baughman said. “This is the most fun I’ve had in any sport for a long time.”
He’s not alone. Amity’s numbers lagged during summer workouts; the Warriors were at times unable to field a full offense against a full defense. Amity’s ranks have swelled to approximately 36 since the beginning of fall camp; many of the new players have played other high school sports.
For the Warriors, the lineup of coaches is akin to an All-Star team. For the coaches themselves, egos have been largely kept in check for the betterment of the program.
“It was a transition because Magill and I are working hard together and finding our ways of how we want things to work,” Amaya said. “We’re really working well together. Coach Magill will be the first person to tell you that I’m the person who has final say, and that’s the way it should be. It’s a great working relationship and I’m excited.”
In bringing back familiar coaches, Amity will also use familiar schemes. Burnett’s 3-3-5 base defense has long been ingrained into the returning players. Magill’s spread offense – which he used to win state championships in 2004 and 2009 – is taught at Amity’s youth levels.
“It’s not much of an adjustment,” senior tight end/linebacker T.R. McShane said. “It’s just been three years (since we’ve run the offense).”
The Warriors have not returned to the Class 3A state playoffs since Magill’s second title, and players speak openly of that as the program’s goal.
“Go hard or go home,” McShane said.