There’s no confusion any more at the top of the Scottsdale Chaparral football program.
This is Charlie Ragle’s team now.
Sure, he took over at Chaparral more than a year ago, but a part of him understood the resistance to change put up by some of the seniors.
Under former coach Ron Estabrook, the Firebirds won three titles earlier this decade. The year before he left, the team made the 4A-I semifinals.
“Change is always going to be hard,” Ragle said. “We did things a lot differently. We conditioned a lot more. Our weight program was different. Physically, we demanded more of them.
“Some of them questioned it. ‘We’ve won all these games, we’ve done all these things. Why do we have to make these changes?’ ”
The results were still good, a 10-3 season, losing by six points to eventual champion Scottsdale Saguaro in the 4A-I semifinals.
But the goal at the school every year is a title, and throughout the summer Ragle said this group has bought in.
“These guys have worked harder than anybody I’ve ever been around,” he said. “If you don’t, you’re going to get called out. This isn’t a gravy train. We want difference-makers.”
It doesn’t hurt returning nine starters on the defensive side of the ball, including defensive end Craig Roh, who had 15 1/2 sacks last season. Chaparral has also added transfers Tyler Ermisch (Glendale Sandra Day O’Connor) and Taylor Lewan (Cave Creek Cactus Shadows).
On offense, quarterback Spencer Stone is back, and so is tight end Tyler Williams. The rest of the group is talented but short on experience.
The pieces to the puzzle are there. But Ragle said looking at the big picture was a problem last season.
This year, it’s one piece connected at a time.
“(State title expectations) are going to be there as long as you’re at this school,” Ragle said. “We’ve got to get past that hurdle. It’s not our goal. It’s not our focus. We get as good as we possibly can be, and the games will take care of themselves.”
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