In sports, there are an abundance of obstacles and barriers that stand in the way of any team or player.
For the Arizona College Prep football team, head coach Myron Blueford has built a program full of athletes and coaches that are simply not afraid of the moment.
When thinking of football coaches at any level, a loud leader blowing their ear-splitting whistle immediately comes to mind. Blueford on the other hand has more of a mellow coaching style. He not only leads by example as a silent leader, but he strives to build personal relationships with his players.
“Yeah, it's the kind of quiet confidence that I like, and we just work you know,” Blueford said. “I think the boys embrace that.”
It is no secret this team has already been through so much, yet they continue to grow and impress. While trying to implement a system for his youthful roster, he also had to balance bringing in six new transfers who would not be able to play until Week 6.
To open up the season, the Knights lost their first two games in a wide margin against Sabino and River Valley.
As with any team that is learning how to win as one unit, losses are just a part of the process. He has instilled this locked in mentality in each of his players, and they just keep on working. They went on an impressive four-game winning streak, but their path to winning all those games was far from easy.
On Sept. 24, Arizona College Prep matched up against Coronado High School, and a dominant 56-6 win over the Dons was overshadowed by a surprising ejection of Blueford.
After questioning a call in the second half of the game, he was not only tossed, but he was also suspended for the Knights’ following game. That game was one that had a huge red circle on Blueford’s calendar heading into the season.
Moon Valley High School held a special meaning to Blueford, and it was the first major coaching opportunity he had ever received. His childhood friend, Sam Jacobs, now the head coach of Sunnyslope High School, offered Blueford a coaching job at Moon Valley.
Soon after joining the program, he became the defensive coordinator, and the two would end up putting the team on an upward trajectory.
“We literally rebuilt that program,” Blueford said. “When we got there, there were like 16 kids in spring ball. And by the time I left, five years later, we got like 60 to 70 kids in spring ball.”
The matchup against the Rockets on Oct. 1 would have been the first time he had coached against his former team since leaving to take over at Arizona College Prep.
As with any coach that misses such a personal game, the raw emotion of not being able to go to battle with your players on such a meaningful night was devastating. This was also their first game going up against a talented 4A high school this season. Unsurprisingly, they had a chip on their shoulder, and they went out and fought till the finish. A goal line stop by the defense sealed a captivating and inspiring win.
Chris Semore, the team’s defensive coordinator, took over as head coach in Blueford’s absence.
The positivity and excitement beamed out of Semore during the post-game huddle, and the confidence each member of the program displayed was moving. The most striking moment was when Semore put coach Blueford on speaker phone, and he voiced his excitement and love for each and every one of his players.
“We knew it was a big deal for Blue, and we knew it meant a lot to him,” Semore said. “We really wanted to get back to ACP with a win for him.”
Blueford has had an impact in each of these player’s’ lives, and he continues to create a solid foundation of being a true family atmosphere. Through wins and losses, the common goal of hard work and improvement always remains the same.
Jayden Diaz, star quarterback for the Knights, has had a special connection with Blueford throughout his time at Arizona College Prep.
This season he has personally been positively influenced by his coach in every facet of life. On and off the field he knows he has a mentor who wants the best for not only himself, but the rest of his teammates and coaches.
“All around coach Blue is an extraordinary leader to everyone around the program and even outside of it and we all love him and wouldn’t want anyone else out there battling with us,” Diaz said. “He just puts on so much work for us and he really brings our team together in every aspect of the game and life.”
Blueford has turned this program into one that players want to be a part of. Players gravitate toward his coaching style, and he purposefully brings on athletes and coaches who share a quieter, but competitive demeanor.
Humble. Driven. Competitive. Loving. Blueford continues to encompass the values of a true leader.
The future of the program is looking bright, and as long as Blueford is at the helm, he will continue to be a dialed-in coach ready to make his “kids” better people.
“I'm intentional with it, I'm intentional with the coaches that I hire,” Blueford said. “I love it, because like I said, it's not a myth that teams develop the personality of their coaches.
“I love the demeanor that they always have. It's just about the next play. Keep working. The results are going to be the results.”