High academic school in its first year for football aspires to be the Stanford of the Chandler Unified School District

It is a tiny academically demanding school in the shadow of Chandler High that has begun work on its first football team.

Coach Myron Blueford, an assistant at Phoenix College last season, leads 45 players, mostly underclassmen, who could comprise a solid National Honor Society team.

Everybody’s grade-point average is above 4.0, taking advanced-placement courses at Arizona College Preparatory. They want to spread that classroom excellence to the field, where they aspire to be like the other Chandler Unified School District schools, and find excellence in football.

“I haven’t said it yet, because we haven’t had a season under our belt, but I could envision us being the Stanford (of the Chandler district),” Blueford said. “We’re the academic school that can play.”

They’ll start out playing in the 2A Conference, the smallest of the 11-man football conferences in the state.

Their first game is at home Aug.18 against 3A Buckeye Odyssey Institute.

The Knights play in the Metro East Region, and during a 7-on-7 tournament this summer for all of those region schools, they made it to the championship game.

“It’s our first time competing against anybody other than ourselves,” Blueford said. “So with no scheming, and them still learning, we’re going to be competitive this year.”

With so many smart players, Blueford is going to let them do what they do best. They’re quick learners and they’re learning quickly how to execute the offense and defense.

ACP has only three seniors. The quarterback figures to be a freshman, Mark Chavez, who is 5-foot-9, 140 pounds. 

“We want to set a legacy for other people to come in later,” Chavez said. “Baby steps, and set a foundation for years to come.”

Sophomore receiver/defensive back Ahlias Jones, 6-0, 155, is expected to one of the first team’s main players. He was excited last year when there was chatter about a football program getting started.

“It was very exciting,” Jones said.

The school has gone through changes since being established in 2007. In 2012, the Erie Street campus for  7th through 12th grade opened. With about 400 high school students, the school has 20 sports teams. Football rounded out that number this year.

Academics has always been the focus.

But Jones says, “I want to win the championship our first year.”

Sophomore linebacker Saar Zutshi (5-7, 175) has an older brother, Shay, a senior, who has 100 pounds on Saar and plays on the offensive line at Chandler Hamilton High.

Hamilton has won more state football titles than any other Chandler district school with seven.

Saar said he would have gone to Hamilton, but he wanted to be part of ACP’s first football team, starting a tradition.

“Since we were getting a team here, I decided to stay,” Saar said. 

Saar Zutshi says he worked out in the off-season with a Chandler High player. Chandler has won two of the last three 6A championships.

“There’s a lot of similarities,” Zutshi said. “We’re getting good work in here, too.”

Blueford, who has six assistants and no freshman and JV teams, is ready to lay down the foundation and watch it grow.

“We’ll find out very early who we are and what we’ve got to work on,” he said.

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