Jarudd Prosser has his second chance. Now he knows the pressure is on.
Taft High hired Prosser as its new football coach Tuesday, putting the former Frazier Mountain head man in charge of a program that reached the Central Section Division IV championship game twice in the past five years.
"I love the challenge," Prosser said. "It is a step up -- that's not being degrading to Frazier, but we're a school of a bigger size going against bigger schools, and I'm excited to see how the challenge plays out. Taft got a taste of success in football; they expereienced that, and they want more of it."
Prosser replaces Steve Sprague, who was 56-34 over eight seasons that included six straight playoff appearances and the 2007 D-IV title. Sprague was forced out after what he said were several disagreements with administration and a 4-15 record in the past two seasons.
Now Taft has replaced a veteran, successful coach with a young one. Prosser, 32, was 17-14 in three years at Frazier Mountain, with one trip to the Southern Section playoffs. He left after the 2009 season because budget concerns in the El Tejon School District made it unclear he'd have a teaching position available the next year.
He took a job at Taft and has assisted the junior varsity football and baseball teams for the past two seasons.
"The way it went down, it was unexpected," Prosser said. "When all the chips fell and the (Taft) position came open, I thought pretty hard about it. I finally said, 'If I pass this up, I don't know when that next shot comes around.'
"If I wanted to be a head coach again, I needed to make a move."
Prosser said he has talked with Sprague about the move and the position.
"He's well-respected by me, and I'll feel fortunate if I can have some of the success he had," Prosser said.
Taft athletic director Marsha Eubank, who was part of a five-person hiring committee, said she thinks Prosser will do fine.
"He was really well-prepared," Eubank said. "He had a binder full of different options, different things to do with preseason, postseason, regular season, a variety of things he wants to run offensively and defensively. He's a good fit for us."
And Prosser hopes to bring Taft quickly back to prominence.
"We have resources; we have talent," Prosser said. "It's a pretty enjoyable place to coach and a pretty fortunate spot I landed in."