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ACP promotes Steven Vaught to head football coach

Jan. 12—Arizona College Prep has announced it is promoting defensive coordinator Steven Vaught to become just the second head coach in program history.

The decision was made public Friday afternoon in a press release from ACP Athletic Director Jamie McClure and Principal Rob Bickes.

"I look forward to supporting and working with Coach Vaught while watching him lead our football program," Bickes said in the release. "Coach Vaught's passion for teaching & coaching, and his love of his athletes and our school, coupled with his drive to succeed will benefit the program and our athletes."

Vaught's promotion comes one year after he joined the ACP coaching staff, where he led the Knights' defense under then-Head Coach Myron Blueford, who stepped down in December following the 2023 season.

"I'll start by thanking Coach Blueford for having faith to bring me over and work with him and be his defensive coordinator," Vaught said. "He did a great job building the program from a 1-9 2A program to a 4A school that competed in the quarterfinals.

"It's an honor to take over for him and I'm appreciative for the hard work he put in to get the program to where it is."

Vaught joined the ACP coaching staff after a long tenure as an assistant coach at Chandler. He spent three years as the defensive coordinator for the Wolves, leading some of the top defenses in the state and winning two Open Division titles.

He was also the weight room coach for the Wolves following the death of former in-game run coordinator Chris Chick in 2021. He took on the same role at ACP and flourished.

The Knights' defense was one of the top units in 4A last season. Vaught helped oversee the continued development of defensive end Cayden Gibson, one of the best pass rushers in the state, let alone the conference.

ACP made a run to the 4A quarterfinals this past season as the No. 10 seed. They lost in four overtimes to eventual champion Canyon Del Oro.

Out of the 22 starting positions on offense and defense, 21 players who started at some point for ACP this past season will return next year.

"We have a lot of experience and a strong senior class and really strong junior class," Vaught said. "We definitely feel like we're poised to make a run next year. And it helps I know the boys and know where they fit.

"We have an idea what they can do so we can plan and prep and hit the ground running in spring ball."

Blueford shocked the high school football community when he announced he was stepping down from the program he built from the ground up. Players at ACP were sad to see him step down, but the hope all along was there would be some continuity with the staff moving forward.

They now get that with Vaught. He said while he had to address them by phone, there were a few cheers in the background.

"I was able to get on speaker phone and let them know and they seemed excited," Vaught said. "Because I had to do it by phone, I couldn't see their reaction. I don't think any of them wanted Coach Blue to step down but I think they're definitely excited for the fact they have a head coach they already know."

Have an interesting story? Contact Zach Alvira at (480)898-5630 or zalvira@timespublications.com. Follow him on Twitter @ZachAlvira.