Brophy Prep Welcomes Coach Kitna
Seahawks Legend Jon Kitna is becoming something of a high school coaching legend, taking on teams with losing football records and turning them into winners. Kitna’s newest project is Brophy Prep in Phoenix, Arizona, where the former Seahawks quarterback is the new football coach.
Kitna brings to Brophy an extensive football and coaching background. He received a Bachelor of Arts in math education from Central Washington University, where he started four years at quarterback and earned All-American honors. During his NFL career, Kitna played for the Seahawks (1997-2000), Cincinnati Bengals (2001-2005), Detroit Lions (2006-2008), and the Dallas Cowboys (2009-2011, 2013). While with the Bengals, Kitna served as team captain and started as quarterback for three seasons, winning the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2003. In an Arizona connection, he mentored recently-retired Cardinal quarterback Carson Palmer during Palmer’s rookie season with the Bengals.
Kitna will begin work with the football program and joins the Brophy faculty to teach in the Mathematics and Physical Education departments.
“I want to thank the leadership team at Brophy for the opportunity to join them in the mission of forming young men and leaders in my role as the head football coach,” said Kitna. “I look forward to working with the administration, faculty, fellow coaches and parents as we aim to build a football program that can be a model of consistency, character and competitiveness.”
Kitna spent the last three years at Waxahachie High School, a one-school town in Texas, where he went 20-13, turning around a struggling program.
“When you’re watching Friday Night Lights, that was it,” Kitna said.
Kitna actually began his high school playing career at Tempe Marcos de Niza, but his family moved back to Tacoma after a year. Kitna’s own family includes his wife, Jennifer, and children, Jordan (20), Jada (19), Jalen (14) and Jamison (12). The “J” squad.
He said he has close ties with former Phoenix Moon Valley High and Northern Arizona quarterback Travis Brown, who is now a pastor in the Valley. Brown, through his work as Arizona State football team chaplain, hooked him up three years ago with former ASU coach Todd Graham, a former Texas high school coach, who also recruited Texas hard.
“Todd and I really got to know each other well the last three years,” Kitna said. “I had a chance to sit down with him three years ago and I got a chance to glean from him how to create a program culture. He and I have stayed in touch.”
In 2011, after three seasons with the Cowboys, Kitna retired from the NFL and returned to his hometown of Tacoma, Washington, where he was named the head football coach at Lincoln High School, his alma mater. In his three years at Lincoln High, where he also taught math, Kitna led his team to victories in the 2013 and 2014 District Championship game and compiled a 25-7 record.
In 2015, Kitna assumed the head coaching position at Waxahachie High School in Waxahachie, Texas. In one of the toughest 5A districts in Texas, Kitna guided Waxahachie from two straight losing seasons to a 20-13 record overall.
“I have good friends who live in Arizona,” said Kitna. “I was going to be on the move. One of my friends told me Brophy was open. I was able to connect myself with Athletic Director Bill Woods, and it was really in the process the last two weeks. It came down to feeling like, for them and for me, that we share a common mission and vision, which is using athletics and academics to shape future leaders and men.”
Kitna laughed when asked if he would make Palmer his quarterback coach or offensive coordinator. Palmer retired after playing last season with the Arizona Cardinals.
“Carson and I are great friends,” said Kitna. “He and I got to spend some time the last four or five years. He loves Arizona, he wants to live there. I don’t know what he’s decided to do, but he loves it there.”
Brophy Prep went 1-9 last season, and has played the last two seasons in arguably the state’s toughest football region, the 6A Premier.
“They’ve got good guys plugged into the community,” Kitna said. “I’m excited. This year, God was doing something. The thing that excites me about Brophy, there are so many coaches there who have been doing it a long time. I want to be at a place 15 to 20 years.”