On Tuesday night, January 31, 2012, Scottsdale, Arizona was the next stop on the 7th Annual MaxPreps Football Tour of Champions presented by the Army National Guard. We were in Scottsdale to award the Chaparral Firebirds football team. On this evening, MaxPreps and the Arizona Army National Guard were honoring this outstanding football team for an amazing season, with a goal to make the trophy presentation a night the players would cherish for the rest of their lives.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by Norris Thompson from MaxPreps. Shortly thereafter, we met with the Arizona Army National Guard and prepared for a fantastic ceremony. Just about 7:30pm, we gathered together with the Chaparral football players, fans, family, administrators and the rest of the student body in the school gymnasium. The adrenalin was high, the music was pumping and the student body was ready for the celebration as they cheered on their basketball team and patiently awaited the long-awaited trophy presentation at halftime.
At halftime of the boy's basketball game, we would present the prestigious Army National Guard national ranking trophy to coach and his team. The trophy, a symbol for excellence, determination, perseverance, and commitment to a cause, is awarded to only 50 teams from 16,000 teams across this great land. Chaparral received this honor because of their successes on and off the field including winning the 2011 state championship and being ranked No. 66 in the nation according to MaxPreps.
On field success has become habit at this school recently. Chaparral has won six state championships, including back-to-back titles in 1999 and 2000 for a combined record of 28–0. The Firebirds won the state championship in 2002 with a 21–14 victory over Greenway. Led by head coach Charlie Ragle, Chaparral appeared in four straight state titles and won three of them. In 2008, Chaparral lost in the 4A Division I state final to a powerful Saguaro squad. In 2009, the football program moved up Division 5A-II where it would become a force to be reckoned with over the next two seasons. The team went on to win back-to-back state championships over Marcos de Niza High School in 2009 and Peoria's Centennial High School in 2010. In 2011, the Firebirds won their third state title — this time in a new Division over Cienega High School from Vail.
At the sound of the halftime buzzer, MaxPreps representative Norris Thompson ran out to the center of the gym. His demeanor exuded excitement and energy. He began his portion of the ceremony by firing up the student body to an ear deafening roar of cheers. He elaborated on Chaparral's on field accomplishments and then he introduced Sergeant First Class Michael Semeje of the Arizona Army National Guard. SFC Semeje congratulated the Firebirds for a great season, and then introduced Sergeant Major Sojourner. Sergeant Major Sojourner shared with the student body the importance of team effort and never losing faith. Then Sergeant Major Sojourner introduced the newly appointed Head Coach, Dave Huffine, who was the team's offensive coordinator during the 2011 season. Huffine proudly accepted this most honorable award, and explained how overwhelmed he was with the entire team this past year. We also want to pay tribute to the head coaching job by Charlie Ragle who was the head coach for this past season. Immediately following the season, Ragle announced he was leaving to join Rich Rodriguez as an assistant at the University of Arizona. Thank you Coach Ragle for a job well done!
Afterwards, local media interviewed players and coaches, and pictures were taken of the players with their new prized hardware. Congratulations Chaparral and cherish the moment!