The search for Golden Valley's next football coach is over.
Former Merced defensive coordinator Jake Messina was hired on Wednesday morning after meeting with Golden Valley principal Craig Chavez and Merced Union High School District assistant superintendent Raynee Daley at the district office.
Messina becomes just the fourth football coach since Golden Valley opened in 1994.
"I'm excited," said Messina, who was the defensive coordinator during Merced's three straight Central California Conference championships from 2006-2008. "For me, it's the realization after 15 years of really hard work. It's gratifying."
Messina takes over for Jon Betschart, who was fired after compiling a 9-21 record during his three-year tenure.
"The were many reasons this is the job I wanted," Messina said. "I've been here and understand how things work and what you need to have success in this area.
"I understand what people want in a football coach. A lot of that I learned from being around Rob (Scheidt). Just being around him I learned a lot about being professional."
Merced's defense surrendered just over 18 points per game, helping pave the way for Merced's 34-5 record, including a trip to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship game during Messina's three years as defensive coordinator.
"Jake was able to convey his vision for the program and saw the steps that needed to be made to get the program off the ground and get things running," Chavez said. "He's made inroads into the community. He's communicated with former staff members and current staff members about coaching.
"He has plans for the booster organization. Everything was well thought out and then he has significant experience in big-game situations. He was not the head coach at Merced High, but he had a significant role in coaching during those big games."
Messina grew up in the Bay Area, playing football at Sequoia High in Redwood City and later at the College of San Mateo.
Messina coached the offensive and defensive lines at Palo Alto High before coming to Merced in 2002. He coached the defensive line at Merced until he was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2006.
"It's a great opportunity for him," Scheidt said. "He's a great coach and he worked hard here and he worked hard to get that position. It's going to be a big challenge, but I think he'll have fun filling that role."
Messina stepped away from the Merced program after 2008 season to focus on finding a head coach position. He was a finalist for the Elk Grove job two years ago. He was even offered the Golden Valley job three years ago, but turned it down to remain at Merced.
"The biggest thing for me is now I feel I have the experience and a stronger foothold in the community," Messina said. "My leadership abilities the last three years has been tested. I was asked to do a lot and be in charge of a lot (at Merced).
"Coming off one successful season three years ago, I wasn't ready. I have all the confidence in the world I can do a good job now."
Messina plans to reach out to a couple coaches at Golden Valley who have stepped away in recent years.
He plans on getting to know his new players right away.