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Jose GarciaMultimedia Journalist/Historian firstname.lastname@example.org
Blue Ridge coach credits football family for win No. 300Sep 29, 2012
Lakeside — It’s a good thing that Blue Ridge football coach Paul Moro didn’t receive the key to the city after winning his 300th game Friday night.
On Friday morning, he was on his school’s football field, not preparing for Friday’s big game but searching for a school key he lost.
Moro will be the first one to tell you that paying attention to details isn’t one of his strong suits. What he is good at is working with people and strategizing.
Those are the two biggest assets that helped him become just the fourth football coach in Arizona high school history to win his 300th game. Moro is the only one to do so at one school, however.
He celebrated his 300th victory, a home 45-0 win over St. Johns, with his coaches, players and family. His football family deserves just as much credit as Moro received for Friday’s achievement, he said.
After Friday's big moment, it’s hard to believe that Moro almost resigned before he became a legend.
This close to stepping down
The competitor in Moro didn’t allow him to accept the defeats his team accumulated during his first 3 ½ seasons at Blue Ridge.
Before his first game at Blue Ridge, the 29-year coach predicted that he’d win his first state title by his third season at Blue Ridge. But during Moro’s first three seasons — the only sub .500 seasons he’s recorded — there were more lows than highs.
During his fourth season, Moro said that he was going to resign after his team’s final game. He only told his coaches.
“The losses are so hurtful,” Moro said. “I don’t know how to recover from them.”
But his 1987 underdog Blue Ridge team found ways to win in the postseason and the first state title under Moro.
That postseason run also forced Moro to stay put.
“God had a plan,” Moro said. “He wanted me to coach.”
Looking for a place to settle with good skiing, Moro applied for his first fulltime teaching job in Arizona and California after graduating from Long Beach State.
But only two districts, including the Blue Ridge Unified District, offered Moro a job. The Blue Ridge job was only a temporary gig, but Moro’s father, Adam, one of the three major influences in Moro’s life, told his son not to take the job unless it was fulltime.
Blue Ridge luckily wound up making a fulltime offer. Moro served four seasons as an assistant before taking over Blue Ridge’s program.
Adam was a vice president for an aeronautical company, but his ability to interact with others effectively is what Moro admired the most about his father. It’s the same trait he found in his golf coach at Huntington Beach High in California, Bill Ridenour. Moro attended Coronado High in Scottsdale before he moved to California because of his dad’s job. But on his first day at Hunting Beach High, Moro met Ridenour, and the two continue to talk to this day.
Ridenour’s ability to connect with his students helped mold Moro as a teacher, Moro said. Joyce, Moro’s wife of 37 years, also deserves credit for the gentle touch Moro brings to the classroom, the coach said.
Joyce was on Blue Ridge's sideline Friday keeping stats for her husband.
“During your life in education, relationships are the most important thing,” Moro said. “As an educator you are there to serve. Being a servant is honorable. It’s a Christian principle. There is no happiness without serving.”
Thinking of retiring again?
Blue Ridge doesn’t run its program like some of the Valley’s big school championship programs.
Unlike a lot of big schools, Blue Ridge doesn’t practice Saturday mornings, because Moro wants his players and assistant coaches to spend time with their families. And Blue Ridge added its first football class, a must for several of the Southeast Valley schools, last year.
But the Blue Ridge program runs efficiently without the extra practice time. Under Moro, Blue Ridge has lost only 49 games since 1984, and 20 of those losses came during Moro’s first season at Blue Ridge.
His .859 win percentage is higher than the three Arizona coaching legends (Vern Friedli, Jesse Parker, Karl Kiefer) who first reached the 300-win plateau. On Friday, Blue Ridge won its 20th game in a row and has a good chance to finish 15-0 for the first time in the program’s history.
But all of the success also won’t keep Moro from reevaluating for the first time in a long time whether he’ll return next season to coach. The coaching and teaching demands are growing, he said.
If Moro wanted to, the 60 year old can retire now and spend more time playing the other sport he loves, golf. But there are a couple of things that will likely keep him from retiring any time soon.
“I love to teach,” he said. “I love the high school kids.”