Devils’ Cain headed to Grand Junction Central
Phil Cain is leaving his post as boys basketball coach at Eagle Valley to become the next coach at 5A Grand Junction Central.
Cain said the move was a family decision. His older brother Paul is the athletics director at Central and when the coaching job opened up after this season, the opportunity to be closer to him and his family was just too good to pass up.
“My nephew is close to my son’s age and that will be neat that they can grow up together,” Cain said. “It was a tough decision for us. We went back and forth on it. I enjoyed my experience at Eagle Valley. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. It was my first head coaching job and the young men that have come through the program have just been great to work with. I still keep in contact with most of them.”
Cain leaves big shoes to fill in his departure. In just seven years, he took the Devils to three Elite Eights in the state playoffs, won two 3A Slope titles, two district titles and was named 3A Slope Coach of the Year twice.
He inherits a Grand Junction Central program that finished in the cellar of the 5A Southwest League last year at 3-16.
The Devils finished second in the Slope this year, ending with an overall record of 17-6 after losing to Denver Christian in the first round of the 3A state playoffs.
“I’m definitely excited about the fresh start,” Cain said. “They were 3-16 last year, but they have a lot of good building blocks coming back. They had a good J.V. team and a good freshmen team.”
The Devils will be moving up to Class 4A next year, making for a tougher conference and non-conference schedule, but Cain said that move had nothing to do with his decision to leave.
“The main factor was the family decision. I think Eagle Valley will be fine in 4A,” Cain said. “Leaguewise, we played some of the teams in the 4A League and we did very well against them. They’ll have Cody (Gerard) back and a lot of experienced guys. Kevin Cruz, David Hernandez, Clayton Forsythe all got a lot of playing time this year and there were some young freshmen coming on that will be sophomores next year that will factor into the mix.”
Cain said that the toughest thing for him to do was to meet with his Devils team on Tuesday to tell them he would no longer be their coach. While his players respected his decision they still said that they were sad to see him go.
“I’d say the thing I’ll miss most about him is having a good time in practice,” said Cruz, who was a junior this year. “We could always joke around with him and he would joke back.
“I am a little worried because we did have some good chemistry on the team and I don’t know how a new coach is going to affect that.”
Hernandez echoed Cruz’s sentiments. He said that while he was certain the Devils would get a capable new coach, he said that he would have rather finished out his senior year with his coach of the last three years.
“It’s kind of tough, being my senior season and having to start over and everything,” Hernandez said. “I liked Coach. We had fun at practice because he was pretty loose. I think he was a good disciplinarian. He would be easy on you sometimes, but hard on you when he needed to be. But, he wouldn’t get down on you so much that you would ever get down on yourself.”
Contact Nate Peterson at 949-0555, ext. 608 or via e-mail at vaildaily.com.