Scottsdale Chaparral's season-opening home football game won't be at home, and coach Ron Estabrook is none too pleased about that.
Estabrook said the Firebirds are supposed to be playing at home next Friday against Flagstaff Coconino. Instead, the game will be played the next day (Aug. 26) at Northern Arizona University's Walkup Skydome.
"I'm not going to be playing happy," Estabrook said. "I don't want to give up a home game. I don't want to have to travel up there and play on Saturday and then have a short week to get ready for Moon Valley."
The Firebirds played Coconino at the Skydome last season as part of a showcase that featured games all day. Estabrook thought it was a one-year commitment and that Coconino would play here this year. That normally is how it works in the state. Matchups are scheduled in two-year blocks with one team being home one year and on the road the next.
"That is what is supposed to happen," Estabrook said.
That isn't what Coconino and organizers of the Skydome event had in mind. Apparently, they thought teams that played in the event last year made a two-year commitment.
Estabrook got that message loud and clear when he spoke this week to Coconino coach Tadd Ragan, who said Chaparral had to come up to Flagstaff. That was reinforced by a letter Estabrook received Wednesday from the 4A Conference.
"It said we had to go up there," Estabrook said. "We will, but I won't be happy."
One reason the Tigers figure to be a contender this season is the weapons they have returning.
Senior quarterback Kyle Caballero passed for 2,230 yards and 20 touchdowns last season. Top receiver Bryan McDaniel (48 catches for 869 yards) is also back. And the team's second-leading rusher, Joe Zakhar (86 carries for 408 yards and six touchdowns), likely moves into a starting role.
But Gilbert could have been even deeper. An injury to last year's 1,000-yard rusher, John Coon, has prevented him from returning and second-leading receiver Nico Sessions transferred to Hamilton.