Nick Mullen is back as Timberline High School’s football coach after spending the past two seasons away from the program.
“I’m just excited to be back,” he said. “I didn’t know it was going to happen this quickly.”
Mullen’s coaching career was put on hold before the 2015 season when he was hired as the school’s athletic director.
Because of the steep learning curve of that job, he stepped away from the Blazers’ football program, ending an eight-year tenure as its head coach.
Two years into his AD job, Mullen, 41, says he has a good handle on everything, and was ready to resume coaching when his old position became available late last month.
“I never wanted to close the door on (coaching) because I knew it was something I love doing,” Mullen said. “Going to camp last week was a blast. I feel like I’m 22 again, coaching my first year.”
Mullen was originally hired at Timberline in 2007 — his first head coaching job — and finished 55-31 during his first stint coaching the Blazers.
Before arriving at Timberline, Mullen spent three seasons as a defensive coordinator at Franklin Pierce. He was on coaching staffs at Mount Tahoma, Central Washington University and Bethel prior to that.
Mullen will replace his former assistant Mike Spears — who coached the Blazers to the inaugural Class 3A South Sound Conference title last season — who resigned on June 30.
Spears, 58, said Thursday that he stepped down because of health issues. He compiled a 11-9 record in two seasons as Timberline’s head coach, including leading the Blazers to the 3A state playoffs last November.
Spears said he thinks the program will continue to succeed with Mullen back at the helm. Apart from Spears, Mullen retained the entire assistant coaching staff.
“This year’s group is really talented,” Spears said. “I think they’ll do well. He has all of the same guys I had. It’s a great staff. … I think they’ll compete quite well.”
Mullen said the transition has been smooth so far. Much of the offense and defense he installed before Spears took over remain intact.
The Blazers will continue to run a pistol offense in multiple formations, and Mullen said he plans on having one quarterback this season. Timberline has used two in the past.
“You might see some additions to things,” Mullen said. “You might see us throw the ball more. But, as far as defense goes, that was all of my original stuff anyway. That won’t change.”
Seniors this season were freshman during Mullen’s final season before taking the AD job. He has remained familiar with the program during his absence, and said he expects the Blazers to continue to compete at a high level.
“We always expect to be at the top of the league,” he said.