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Douglas coach to head up Sandys football program

Joe Polamalu comes to Sandy after leading Douglas to the 4A title game


The Sandy football team has endured a turbulent and rocky journey in recent years. The Pioneers may have found just the man to right the ship.

Joe Polamalu has been given the charge of the team and will make his Sandy debut as head coach next month. Polamalu has a proven ability to turn a program around and the Pioneers hope he can do the same for them.

Most recently, Polamalu held the top spot at Douglas High School where he took a team that was down on its luck and transformed it into a winner. Douglas won just one game in its last year before Polamalu, but went 5-6 and made the playoffs in his first year. In his second season, Douglas went undefeated in the regular season, only to lose in the opening round of the state tournament. In Year 3, Polamalu led Douglas to an 11-win season and a trip to the 4A state championship game.

Under Polamalu, Douglas made the playoffs in five straight seasons. He feels he can get Sandy on the right track, and he thinks Sandy is an ideal place for him and his family. Both sides stand to benefit from the new hire.

“The small-town atmosphere closely resembles what we’re coming from, but it’s still close to the metro area,” Polamalu said. “That is one of the first things that attracted me. It seems like the community support and enthusiasm will be fantastic.”

Polamalu brings a wealth of football knowledge to Sandy, especially on the defensive side of the ball. He played linebacker at Oregon State in the 1980s and has always been defensive-minded. Seven-time Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburg Steelers is Joe Polamalu’s younger cousin, so defense runs in the family.

A shake-up on defense is exactly what Sandy needs. The Pioneers gave up more than 35 points per game last season and dropped multiple tight games, despite respectable offensive outputs.

To keep the offense more consistent, Polamalu plans to rely on his prior experience and his coaching staff to try to stay one step ahead of the competition.

“The basics of football are always the same, but within that, so much has changed since I played, and even since I started coaching,” Polamalu said. “It amazes me how athletic players are now. They can do a lot more. I am welcome to change and we will be open to evolving as we need to.”

That evolution will be crucial in terms of Xs and Os. But before any of that change is put into practice, Polamalu knows he has to first change the attitude and perception surrounding the program. Only then can Sandy shake its recent woes.

“We are going to be focused on changing the culture and learning how to win,” Polamalu said. “There is no magic formula for it. We just have to work hard every day and truly believe we can win. If we do that, I think we can compete every week.”

Sandy hosts Hood River Valley on August 30 to open the season.