Ten years ago, Michael Gutierrez was still in high school, having just finished a senior football season for Foothill.
Soon, Trojans coach Scott Douglas would ask Gutierrez to help on his coaching staff while Gutierrez attended Bakersfield College.
Gutierrez, 27, completed his meteoric rise Tuesday, when Highland athletic director Steve Matney announced the school would make him Kern County's youngest head football coach.
"It's something I've been working for and my group of coaches has been working for," Gutierrez said. "We want to have a chance to do something like this. It's exciting to see that goal reached and the work pay off at lower levels. Now we have a school that trusts us to shape young men."
Not that Gutierrez himself isn't still something of a young man. After year assisting Douglas on the varsity team, Gutierrez spent three years as the junior varsity offensive coordinator while he completed a degree at Cal State Bakersfield. Then he took over the freshman team at Mira Monte from 2008-2011 before becoming the Lions' junior varsity head coach in 2012.
Gutierrez returned to Foothill last year to become the Trojans' JV head coach. He took a team that had been 0-10 the year before to a 4-6 mark and a third-place finish in the Southeast Yosemite League.
Now he'll try to have the same success at Highland, which was 2-8 last season and hasn't had a winning record since 2011.
"I told (Highland administration) that Highland could be a sleeping giant if we could utilize it right," said Gutierrez, who said that as an opposing coach, he was always impressed by the Scots' participation levels and hard-working athletes. "We're putting something together with a group of coaches, and we want to make it special."
Gutierrez, who is a primarily offensive coach, said he'll run the zone-read option offense with the Scots, and he'll bring defensive coordinator Chris Hawkins with him to implement a 4-2-5 defense.
"We want to be fast and physical on both sides of the ball," Gutierrez said. "We want to use tempo on offense to help us control the line of scrimmage, and we'll be aggressive and use pressure on defense."
Gutierrez replaces North's Chad Brown, who's 31, as the youngest head football coach in Bakersfield, but he said he's ready for the challenge.
"It's definitely a leap up because the fact that it's varsity football, but it's something I've gotten used to as a coordinator," Gutierrez said. "I've worked with that speed and that level. We want to turn this program around and have it be successful."
Scots add volleyball coach
Highland also announced Tuesday that Melanie Gibson, a varsity assistant the past three years, would be promoted to the head volleyball coach position.