SAFFORD — There may be something in the water as four different head football coaches have stepped down from area programs.

Safford head coach Eric Hjalmarson opted to leave after two seasons.

“I am leaving for personal reason, I also wanted to give Safford as much time as possible to find a replacement,” Hjalmarson said.

Hjalmarson finished his tenure with a record of 15-8 and was the 2019 3A South Region Coach of the Year.

“I have several schools that I am interested in or that are interested in me, and I will know within a month or so of where I will teach and coach next year. I will not be at Safford High next year,” he said.

The Thatcher Eagles football team will be entering the fall in a new division and with a new head coach, as Ramon Morales has announced that he will be stepping down as head coach.

Morales was the 2018 Conference and Region Coach of the Year.

“When I was asked to step in as Head Coach, I agreed to do it for one year. After winning a third-straight championship, I asked my coaches if they were up to the challenge of trying to win four in a row? I felt like the program was rolling and our best chance to accomplish that goal was to keep things intact,” Morales said.

In his first year, the Eagles went undefeated with a 14-0 record as well as winning the 2018 State Championship, which was a three-peat for Thatcher.

Morales had a record of 22-5 in his two seasons with Thatcher.

“I informed our athletic director before the season that either way, I would step down as head coach after the season. I will continue to coach if I am asked to remain as part of the next staff,“ Morales said.

Pima has joined the club, as they will be looking for a new head coach to take the reins after John Bryant stepped down. And, after three seasons, Alonzo Highsmith Jr. is hanging up his clipboard as the Willcox Cowboys head football coach.

Bryant did not immediately return calls for comment and Highsmith declined to comment on his future plans.


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