Rick Garretson is already well on his way continuing the success of Chandler High School’s football program.
Since taking over for Shaun Agauno in 2019, Garretson has recorded a 23-0 record and two Open Division Championships.
People are taking notice, including the front office of the Arizona Cardinals, which nominated Garretson for the 2021 Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award.
“It’s quite an honor to represent Arizona and to represent the city of Chandler and Chandler High School,” Garretson said.
According to the National Football League Foundation, the award is given to the coach who demonstrate “the integrity, achievement, and leadership exemplified by the winningest coach in NFL history, Don Shula” and can “demonstrate a commitment to the health and safety of their players as well as the exemplary characteristics of the late Coach Don Shula.”
Shula is best known for serving as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 1970-1995. He won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1972 and 1973 and led the Dolphins to a 14-0 perfect season in 1972
“He is the ultimate football coach,” Garretson said. “When I think of guys growing up in my era, you’ve got (Vince) Lombardi and you’ve got Shula.”
Garretson said his nomination for the award is a reflection of his program and the dedication of his players and coaches.
“It’s a tribute to my players, a tribute to my coaches because I’ve always said ‘It’s not a one man show,’” Garretson said. “It’s an assortment of staff and the players, the parents, the support system that makes everything work together.”
The Wolves are coming off a 10-0 undefeated season and a 23-21 victory over Hamilton for their second straight Open Division title.
In 2019, Chandler went 13-0 and defeated Saguaro 42-35 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe for the first-ever Arizona Open Division Championship.
Before his hire as head coach, Garretson served in roles including co-offensive coordinator, passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Wolves under head coach Shaun Aguano, now the running backs coach at Arizona State.
Two finalists for the award will be chosen, with a winner announced this summer, according to a press release from the NFL.
Heading into the 2021 season, Garretson is looking forward to seeing packed stands at Austin Field to cheer on Chandler.
“Arizona high school football is an exciting place to be,” Garretson said. “(It is) supported tremendously by fans, by alumni, by our students, by media. Having that taken away a little bit last year, I think lets you appreciate those ideas that maybe sometimes we all took for granted.”