Kamari Cotton-Moya, who played college football for the Iowa State Cyclones from 2014-17, will be Denison-Schleswig’s new head football coach.
The Denison High School Board officially approved the new hire at its meeting on Monday night.
Cotton-Moya will take over the reins from Chad Van Kley, who recently stepped down after leading the Monarchs on the football field for 11 seasons with an overall record of 31-67 with one playoff appearance to his credit in the fall of 2020.
Van Kley has accepted a teaching position at Sioux Center High School for next fall and will serve as an assistant football coach for the Warriors.
Cotton-Moya was born in Bakersfield, California, and was a two-way star on the football field for Ridge View High School as a starting quarterback and defensive back for the Wolfpack.
As a senior, Cotton-Moya led Ridgeview High to the Central Section Division III championship, rushing for 2,258 yards and 27 touchdowns in addition to passing for 1,580 yards and 13 scores.
Cotton-Moya then went on to have an outstanding career as a defensive back for Iowa State under coaches Paul Rhoads and Matt Campbell.
After redshirting as a true freshman in 2013, Cotton-Moya started 11 of 12 games in 2014, leading the Cyclones with 77 tackles, sixth-best for an ISU freshman, as he was named the Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year.
His sophomore season was cut short after six games by a hamstring injury.
As a junior in 2016, Cotton-Moya served as a co-captain and finished third on the team with 73 tackles, while leading the Cyclones with 58 solo tackles, good for sixth in the Big 12.
Also that year, he led ISU in takeaways with two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble en route to being named to the All-Big 12 second team.
As a senior, Cotton-Moya again ancored ISU’s defense with 60 tackles (three for losses), three interceptions and one touchdown.
His three picks were good for fifth-best in the Big 12.
He was recognized as a consensus All-Big 12 first-team recipient in his final season as a Cyclone standout.
Undrafted out of college, Cotton-Moya signed in 2018 with the Arizona Hotshots of the Alliance of American Football League for the 2019 season.
He was placed on the injured reserve after suffering a season-ending injury to his right knee.
The league ceased operations after being in existence for only one portion of a season from February to April of 2019.
In a phone interview with the Denison Bulletin and Review on Monday night, Cotton-Moya expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to be Denison-Schleswig’s next head football coach.
It will be Cotton-Moya’s first job as a head coach at any level
"I seriously can’t wait to get started. I have a lot of passion for the sport of football and I’m looking forward to the challenge, commented the 26-year-old Cotton-Moya, who has spent the past few weeks as a substitute teacher in different classroom settings within the Denison School District.
"I’m from a football family. It’s in my blood. I can’t wait to get with the kids and start to build relationships. All I know is that we’re going to do things the right way," added Cotton-Moya, who currently lives in Carroll.
Cotton-Moya said that one of his first priorities as head football coach is to lay a foundation of trust between himself and his players.
"Hey, the players have to trust me and I have to trust them. That’s the only way we’re going to move forward. I’m going to expect a lot from the players, but at the same time, I’m going to expect a lot from myself and our staff to revive the Monarch tradition and take them to the next level," Cotton-Moya remarked.
"A lot of people judge programs on wins and losses. Don’t get me wrong. Winning is a lot more fun than losing, but a winning mindset is more important to me than wins and losses," stated Cotton-Moya, who said that he has been welcomed with open arms from everyone at Denison High School.
"Everyone has been great. Denison has an outstanding school system and I’m looking forward to working with our school staff and coaches," Cotton-Moya said.
Denison High School Activities Director Derek Fink sent out a press release after Monday’s hire.
"Cotton-Moya comes to the Monarch football program with great enthusiasm, knowledge, experience of the game of football, but most importantly a passion to work with the kids of the Denison Community School District," commented Fink.
"In Cotton-Moya’s short time in our school district this spring, he has made a great impact on our staff and students and we are excited for him to join our football program and school district next fall," Fink added.