When a school strings together three consecutive state championships, it becomes synonymous with that sport. Chaparral and football. Football and Chaparral.
And any major change in leadership is generally considered big news in the world of prep sports.
Such is the case with Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, which will have a new head football coach next season…a new starting quarterback for the first time in three years…and a long line of young aspirants who want to be the next 1,000-yard receiver to replace the one that is graduating.
So the Firebirds are front-page news again as the school decides on its next head coach to replace the one the University of Arizona hired away to become that school’s link to the local pool of prep football talent.
To no one’s surprise, the Chaparral administration just named Dave Huffine to take over one of the state’s most successful football programs. Huffine is the person who outgoing coach, Charlie Ragle, recommended for the job since he has been on staff for the past seven years and has proven to be one of the best offensive coordinators in the game.
Ragle, who directed the team to the three state titles during his six years at Chaparral, was hired by the Wildcats to be the assistant director of football operations under new coach, Rich Rodriguez. And, oh yeah, he’s also the programs’ liaison for high school relations – which probably had something to do with the high profile Ragle has within the state and the success he has enjoyed.
But Huffine’s appointment isn’t the only reason that Chaparral is back in the news. Its four-star wide receiver, Davonte’ Neal, has decided to open his college options to include the University of Arizona, and possibly Arizona State as well.
Neal, who is one of the top prospects still available on the national recruiting scene, has reportedly scheduled an official visit to UofA on Feb. 11. That’s more than a week after National Signing Day, but Neal says that date doesn’t represent a deadline for his decision.
The two-time Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year passed the 1,000-yard mark in both receiving and rushing as a senior, leading the Firebirds to a 14-1 record.
Neal was part of a ‘dynamic duo’ at Chaparral that included Connor Brewer, the three-year starting quarterback who was also highly recruited after a career than saw him run up more than 7,500 yards passing and 100 touchdowns.
But Brewer just signed with the University of Texas and it looked like Neal was also headed out of state. A last-minute push by the Arizona coaches apparently convinced him to give them a chance to keep him at home.
And Ragle’s addition to the Wildcat staff certainly didn’t hurt their cause.
If you’re keeping track… that’s a coach and almost the entire offense that is going away at Chaparral. With the pool of talent that a successful football program draws, the cupboard isn’t exactly bare for the new head coach.
But that fourth straight state title is going to be a lot harder to come by.