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Changes made to ALA Queen Creek, Gilbert North football coaching staffs

Feb. 7—The football landscape in East Valley American Leadership Academy high schools is drastically changing.

This comes after the firing of former ALA — Gilbert North head coach and Athletic Director Randy Ricedorff in January. According ALA district spokesperson Melody Hudson, Ty Detmer, who led the ALA — Queen Creek football program the last three seasons, has been reassigned to become the new coach at the Gilbert North campus.

With the move, Rich Edwards, who served as district athletic director for ALA schools, will return to lead ALA — Queen Creek, the program he started back in 2012. He will also serve as the assistant director of athletics, according to Hudson. Jeff Oliverson, who is currently the athletic director at the Queen Creek campus, will move with Detmer to Gilbert North.

"We interviewed some coaches, we talked to guys and explored some options," Detmer said. "They came to me and said they feel like the best thing for ALA as a whole was having me and Jeff Oliverson go over together and tag team this.

"Obviously, you're tied in with great relationships with kids and parents so it's a little harder leaving. But I have a lot of respect for the guys who run ALA and believe in the mission. I said, 'If that's what you guys feel is best, I'll go.'"

The domino effect for all the moves in the ALA charter system began on Jan. 26 when Gilbert North parted ways with Ricedorff after seven seasons.

He led the Eagles to a 4A title in 2022 and the semifinals this past season, developing players like standout quarterback Adam Damante and wideouts Brandon Phelps and Tyton Slade along the way.

Chris Moss, the ALA President of PreK — 12 operations, said in a statement the school parted ways with Ricedorff due to "practical and philosophical differences." The school did not comment further on the reason for his firing.

Detmer's move to the Gilbert campus to take over for Ricedorff was equally as shocking to many in the Arizona high school football community. He led the Patriots to three straight Open Division appearances and oversaw the program's move from 3A to the 6A Conference over the last three seasons.

Detmer said he was informed of the district's decision to make the changes Tuesday night. He informed his players on Wednesday.

"That's the hardest one," Detmer said of his meeting with the team. "It was pretty quiet. I think it came out of left field for everybody. I think they felt like, 'What the heck?' But I got a chance to spend the day there.

"I wouldn't be leaving if the program wasn't in a good place and in good hands."

Detmer confirmed that offensive coordinator Max Hall and defensive coordinator James Verenski will remain with the Queen Creek program under Edwards. They were part of Edwards' staff before he stepped away to pursue real estate and become the district athletic director.

"They're going to carry on just like before I was there," Detmer said. "I think the boys ... they're disappointed. But I hope they know they're still a great program and nothing is going to change."

Edwards coached the Patriots to the 3A title in 2016, their first season playing in the Arizona Interscholastic Association. They returned to the semifinals a year later before losing to up-and-coming program Casteel.

In 2018, the Patriots were ineligible for postseason play after it was revealed a player who had graduated high school in Canada played an extra season after moving to ALA — Queen Creek. But they returned and won the state title again in 2019 before moving up to 4A a year later.

The change in the charter systems two most successful football programs in recent years comes on the heels of Joe Germaine's departure from his alma mater, Mountain View, to lead the new American Leadership Academy — Mesa North football program, which is set to open this fall.

Germaine's hiring sent shockwaves through the Arizona high school football community Tuesday. He will serve as the assistant athletic director for the school as well as lead the football program.

Germaine coached Mountain View for three seasons, making the playoffs twice during his tenure. He was a standout quarterback for the Toros during some of their best years under Jesse Parker.

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