With a Little Help, Austin Returns to South : Prep football: He is expected to share coaching duties with Mike Christensen, who was a Spartan assistant last year.


Joe Austin will begin his second stint as football coach at South Torrance High in the fall, but this time he won’t be alone at the top.

South Principal John Schmitt said Thursday that Austin probably will share coaching duties with Mike Christensen, a South assistant.

Austin, 49, and Christensen, 30, were the finalists for the job, which became vacant after Don Morrow, South’s coach for the past four seasons, was named coach at Mira Costa last month.

Schmitt said the only thing holding up the co-coaching situation is the school district’s ability to find a full-time teaching job for Christensen, who currently works in the Los Angeles Unified School District.


“The whole thing is contingent on (Christensen) becoming a teacher at the school,” Schmitt said. “I suspect that will happen. I’m looking ahead to what we anticipate with retirements.”

Finding a teaching job for Austin was easier because he already works in the Torrance district. He has been a teacher and the football coach at North Torrance High for the past three years. He guided the Saxons to a 10-2 record last season.

Although Austin said he regrets leaving North, he is looking forward to returning to South. He graduated from South in 1961 and coached the Spartan football team for 17 seasons, compiling a 108-63-2 record and winning three league titles, before leaving after the 1988 season to go into private business. He left the business a year later, returning to teaching and coaching at North in 1990.

“South is my home,” he said. “It’s where I graduated from, it’s where my wife graduated from, it’s where my son graduated from and it’s probably where my grandkids will graduate from. It’s where I feel most at home teaching.”

Austin said he informed North’s football players on Wednesday that he would not be returning next season.

“I feel bad about leaving North because there are some great kids over there,” he said. “I just told them that I’m going back to the old school where I grew up.”

Schmitt said Austin and Christensen have met and agreed to co-coaching terms. The staff will also include Dick Harris, South’s longtime defensive coordinator and a close friend of Austin’s.