Apache Junction football coach Max Ragsdale is leaving the school to become an assistant under Mike Reardon at Gilbert Mesquite.
Ragsdale spent nine years coaching at A.J., the first five as an assistant before taking over the program in 2003.
The Prospectors went 0-10 in Ragsdale’s first season at A.J., but reached the playoffs in 2005.
The team took another step forward with a 9-5 record in 2006, the school’s first winning season in 22 years, culminating with a spot in the 4A Division II state semifinals.
But the move from 4A-II to 5A-I was too tempting, even if it meant becoming an assistant again.
“It’s a chance to grow in my mind,” he said.
Ragsdale said new Mesquite coach Reardon approached him about coaching together, and since Reardon calls his own plays on offense, Ragsdale will be the offensive line coach.
“I want to learn how to be a better coach, why not under a guy who’s won a couple (state championships),” Ragsdale said. “He’s known and forgotten more football than I’ll ever know.”
Ragsdale plans to teach at the school as well, but nothing has been officially worked out for this fall.
“I bleed black and gold,” said Ragsdale, a former Prospectors player. “It wasn’t a popular decision here.”