It’s the end of an era at Chaparral High School. Ron Estabrook, the man who helped resurrect a dormant football program and led the Firebirds to 4A state titles in 1999, 2000 and 2002, has retired after 13 years as a coach.
Estabrook, 67, turned in his resignation letter to the school on Tuesday so that he could spend more time with his wife and 21 grandchildren.
“I sure wouldn’t have traded it for anything,” Estabrook said of his time at the school. “I’ll still bleed Chaparral red and gold. It was a great run.”
Estabrook had been mulling the decision for about a year. Although he won’t have a say in the decision, Estabrook would like to see an in-house replacement named.
Possible candidates include offensive coordinator Dave Huffine, former offensive coordinator and Arizona State graduate assistant Charlie Ragle and longtime defensive coordinator Mike Angeloni.
“If it was my choice, (staying within the program) is the way it would be,” Estabrook said. “There are plenty of qualified people here and it would be a good transition.”
The job opening will be posted for two weeks, and a decision by Chaparral principal Mary Lou Muccino could come quickly after that.
After one season as coach of the junior varsity, Estabrook took over the varsity reins at Chaparral in 1995, inheriting a squad that had gone 0-10 the previous season. In his first year at the helm, he led the Firebirds to a 6-5 record and their first playoff appearance in 10 years.
From 1997-2002, his teams won 70 of 78 games and three state titles.
This season, Chaparral went 11-3 and lost to Tucson Sabino, 24-14, in the semifinals of the 4A Division I state playoffs.
“I never imagined the kind of win-loss record we would have,” Estabrook said. “When I started, I was just hopeful we would make the playoffs one year.”
When Estabrook arrived in Arizona after compiling a 50-7 record as coach at Truckee (Calif.) High, he thought he was done with coaching.
But he was soon roped into the JV gig at Chaparral, and, after getting promoted to varsity coach, Estabrook said he would give three years to help turn the program around.
Well that three years eventually became 12, and Estabrook said he has no regrets about how any of it turned out.
“I wouldn’t have changed this script for anything,” he said.