Deer Valley High grad Matt Mills named school’s new football head coach

Matt Mills in action on the sidelines. Courtesy of Matt Mills.

By Jesus Cano

Publisher’s Note: This will be Jesus Cano’s final article for the Herald as he’s moved on to the Times. I congratulate him on his new role, as he completes his college education, this year and thank him for all the great work covering sports stories for us over the past five years since he began during his high school days. (See his first article for the Herald)

From roaming around the hallways with friends to winning a BVAL title with his teammates in 2009, Matt Mills recalls his time as a Deer Valley High School student as the most memorable in his life.

The 2010 grad always knew he wanted to come back to his alma mater and one day be involved in the program that gave him so much. Last week, he got the call that he had been manifesting for so long.

The 29-year-old will be leading Deer Valley’s football team as the newly appointed Wolverines’ head coach.

“It’s kind of one of those things I would say in the back of my mind where if I was able to coach a school like Deer Valley, the sky’s the limit,” Mills said. “It is truly truly a dream come true.”

Mills takes over for Robert Hubbard, who served as head coach for Deer Valley from 2015 to 2021. The Wolverines went 14-51 during that span. According to a Facebook post made by Hubbard, he was fired by the school on Nov. 20, 2021.

One of the initiatives Mills will be taking to help rebuild the program is to have more involvement from alumni and help players achieve a better academic performance in the classroom.

“I didn’t want to focus on the negatives, I wanted to focus on the positives of the program and build from there,” Mills said, “Some of the best things in the world are built from the ground up.”

After a successful career at Deer Valley, Mills enrolled at Diablo Valley College to play football for the Vikings but never suited up. After that season he took a year off from football to figure out what he really wanted to do in life.

That year, Mills realized how much he missed football and what opportunities the sport could offer for the rest of his life.

“I think initially coming out of high school you don’t realize that football is another avenue to help you garner a degree and to get you to where you want to be later in life,” Mills said.

Mills continued his football career at Los Medanos College, where he played under head coach Chris Shipe. After playing running back most of his career, Mills made the tough decision to convert to linebacker. The move eventually paid off, as Mills earned a scholarship to play football at Kentucky Wesleyan.

After his two-year stint in Kentucky, Mills came back home to California, but he never had the intention to coach football.

It wasn’t until he started a job with the Oakland Raiders in the Community Relations Department. After helping out with drills during one of the Raiders NFL Play 60 events, Mills knew it was time for him to start coaching.

“That’s where it kind of all clicked for me,” Mills said.

Mills went on to have defensive coordinator roles at Encinal, Concord and College Park before finally getting the call from Deer Valley to become its new head coach.

Now that he has the opportunity he’s always dreamed about, Mills wants to elevate this program to new heights.

“Our coaching staff is going to do everything to be successful not only in the classroom but in our lives,” Mills said. “I also want our former players to always feel like the door is always open at Deer Valley.”

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