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EPHRAIM — Snow College named a new head coach Monday morning after the departure of Paul Peterson to Dixie State in St. George.
In the process, the Badgers quietly promised continuity in a time of immense change.
Andrew Mitchell, who was Peterson’s offensive coordinator for the past two seasons, has been promoted to head coach, the Badgers announced Monday.
Mitchell was an All-American offensive lineman at Snow College who helped take the team to the 2007 NJCAA national championship before playing two seasons at Oklahoma State. Following his collegiate career, Mitchell played briefly in the NFL for Cincinnati, Seattle and Jacksonville before his first coaching job at Oklahoma State in 2012.
He also has additional coaching experience at Houston, North Carolina, TCU and Idaho State.
“We are pleased that coach Mitchell has accepted the head football coaching position at Snow College and have great confidence in his ability to mentor our student-athletes,” Snow College president Gary Carlston said. “The essence of football at Snow College is to provide increased opportunity for young men to continue their education, enhance campus life and community involvement.
“There is still work to do to find membership in a football conference to sustain the program, and we are hoping to make progress in the near future.”
Following the 2018 season that ended with a loss to Iowa Western in the Graphics Edge Bowl, the Badgers have been thrust into a state of junior college football limbo.
Peterson to Dixie
The Badgers' conference, the Western States Football League, will no longer sponsor football after six members of the conference ceased operations. Only Snow College, Arizona Western and Eastern Arizona College currently sponsor football.
But the program won't be down for the count, Snow athletic director Rob Nielson said in a statement.
“We are committed to maintaining prominence for the Snow College football program,” Nielson said. “We have been in negotiations with other leagues to ensure our program not only continues, but also that we will be able to maintain our standing as one of the top junior-college football programs in the nation.”
During the past two seasons, the Badgers combined for an 18-4 record, and led the nation in scoring (550 points), points per game (50.0), yards per carry (6-7) and first downs per game (23.1) in 2018. They also ranked second with 5,382 yards of offense and 273.5 rushing yards per game, led by former East High running back Jaylen Warren.
In total, the Badgers ranked among the Top 10 nationally in 16 offensive statistical categories.
Now a perennial Top 10 nationally, the Badgers burst on the scene with an undefeated season and national championship in 1985, and has produced NFL talent such as Brett Keisel, Matt Asiata, Kapri Bibbs, Star Lotulelei and Garett Bolles.
The college, which has an enrollment of approximately 5,100 students, also sponsors men’s and women’s basketball, men's and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, softball and rodeo among its eight varsity teams.
Update, Dec. 11, 2018:
The leadership at Arizona Western and Eastern Arizona colleges have announced an end to their football programs, as well.
Eastern Arizona president Todd Haynie said that all coaches, athletes and staff members have been notified and received the ability to stay on at the school, or transfer to other destinations.
“This has been extremely difficult decision we have been forced to make,” Haynie said in a statement released Tuesday. “We understand the profound consequences this has to our student-athletes, their dedicated coaches, and passionate supporters.
“EAC has a long and storied football tradition that spans nearly 100 years. The program has been a focal point of campus life and has enabled the College to expand the reach of our student body and provide opportunities for students to gain an education who might not otherwise have been able to. However, with drastic changes taking place within the league that are outside our control, and as stewards entrusted with public lands, we must conclude that an altered program will not allow EAC to maintain a balance of costs and benefits.”