New UT coaches King and Sandoval bring synergy and history to football program | Soccer
Mooch King and Alex Sandoval, the incoming boys’ and girls’ football coaches at United Township High School, bring synergy to the Panthers, something they developed as teammates during the height of UT men’s football.
King, who will coach the men’s team and assist the girls, is the school’s all-time leading scorer and won his senior year all-state when UT won its first state title in 1999.
Sandoval, who will coach the women’s team and assist the boys, graduated from UT in 1998, a year the team took fourth place in the state.
King followed former coach Phil Weaver as director of training at East Moline Silvis Soccer Club in 2018 and Sandoval served as assistant director of training under King.
The two are now taking over the UT program from Weaver, which was laid off after last season. Weaver began coaching UT in 1996, helping the boys’ program to four regional titles, three section titles and two state appearances. He was the girls’ coach for his three regional titles and his only section title.
People also read…
King knows he has big shoes to fill, but coaching the Panthers has been a long-time goal. Weaver started coaching the Panthers in King’s freshman year.
“What a great career,” King said of Weaver’s time with UT. “What wonderful accomplishments he has brought to the program. I think I can only hope to build from the things he put in place and put my own spin on things and take it to the next level.
King, whose birth name is Dennis, is only known by Mooch, a nickname he earned as a curious kid looking to get his hands on all the treats he could.
“I just don’t know Dennis. I was never Dennis, I don’t introduce myself as Dennis,” he said. “My checks and credit cards which I sign as Mooch because my initial is ‘M’. I just haven’t legally changed it.
King believes that the success of the high school program starts with the succession program and that players develop consistently. This is why supervising the club team has been such an important experience that he brings to UT.
King hopes to build on his past playing experience, which includes four years at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he was a starter for four years and second all-time leading scorer.
“If you look at the most successful teams at UT and other schools,” he said, “they’ve had players who have all played together since they were little.”
King hopes to guide his teams towards simple, efficient, possession-based and selfless football.
“The most important thing is to establish a team culture and an atmosphere of competition and hard work together, not as individuals,” he said. “We want to be in control of the game, all the time. Focused on ball control, pace and tempo.
King likened his philosophy to a quote from Herb Brooks, the head coach of the 1980 United States men’s Olympic hockey team that beat the Soviet Union to gold in the “Miracle on Ice” game. .
“You play for the name on the front, not the name on the back,” King said. “That’s one of my favorite Herb Brooks quotes. To me, that sums up something I’ve heard throughout my career.
King’s brother Scott has coached under Weaver since 2000 and will coach JV. King has two sons, Brodie and Owen, and one daughter, Elizabeth. Brodie will be a freshman at UT.
“I want to see UT come back to the state tournament with trophies,” King said. “I know other positions have opened up that I haven’t applied for. My heart and soul are with United Township and I had to wait my turn.
Sandoval says coaching the Panthers alongside another UT Hall of Famer starts with a common vision that the two share.
“Working together, and obviously playing together, we’ve always been on the same page and that makes it easier,” he said. “We stay on the same page at all times.”
Sandoval also got all-state as a junior and senior at UT and later played at Lincoln Junior College and Monmouth College, where he helped the team win its first conference championship.
Sandoval has coached various club teams over the past twelve years and hopes to bring energy to the women’s team and instill a winning mindset. Having coached 90% of high school players in clubs gives you a good head start.
“Going into the summer sessions, we already have an idea of every girl and every boy,” he said. “It’s a huge advantage to know what we have and what we want to build.”
Sandoval and King are also friends and golfing partners, so they’ve spent a lot of time together over the years.
Both are grateful for what they learned under former Coach Weaver and grateful for the chance to follow in his footsteps.
“As a coach, parent, club member, and UT alumnus, I have the best of both worlds going for me,” King said. “I can be part of UT’s boys’ and girls’ programs and continue to be part of EMSSC in the future.”