Jim Beall helped open Higley High in 2001, built the cages of the school’s old football weight room by hand, started its football program, saw his youngest child finish his football career this fall and won a lot of football games in between.
Now it’s time for a change.
Beall retired as Higley’s football coach on Monday, the only one in school history, according to principal Larry Rother.
A phone message left with Beall wasn’t immediately returned. Rother said Beall will continue as a physical education teacher at the school.
Rother said Beall notified his players on Monday.
He won 48 games in nine seasons at Higley, including a trip to the 4A Division II state championship game in 2006 and the 4A-II semifinals in 2007. The Knights went 6-6 this season and advanced to the state quarterfinals before falling, 35-34, to eventual 4A-II champion Phoenix Thunderbird.
“He’d done an outstanding job,” Rother said. “He’ll never take credit for this, but the district has high expectations for our athletic programs, and he’s the big reason it became built-in into us, and we never sacrificed what was best for kids for the sake of winning.”
Prior to coming to Higley, Beall won a state championship at Payson in 1998, and at Snowflake in 1991 and 1992. He was named Arizona Coach of the Year in '91 and '98.
He’s coached in some capacity at high schools for 35 years, but the recent seasons took a toll on Beall’s health, and he suffered a heart attack in 2007, but Rother said that wasn’t a deciding factor in Beall’s decision.
“We hadn’t talked about it per se that this was his last year, but he made some of those comments in the past," Rother said. "He felt it was the right time to turn the program. I think he thought it was a good time to transition.”
Rother said the search for a new coach will begin shortly, and hopes to make a new hire in mid-January.