Former Arizona Wildcats quarterback and graduate assistant Kris Heavner will be the new head football coach at Santa Rita High School.
Heavner, 27, was one of seven applicants for the job to replace Harold Coleman, who resigned in November after going 6-13 in two seasons.
“He knows football instantly,” Michael Beck, Santa Rita’s assistant principal for athletics, said about Heavner.
“He had the best knowledge of football that we saw from any of the candidates. And he has an outstanding personality and a willingness to commit to be a Santa Rita Eagle, to make our program the state playoff team we were three years ago.
“One of the things that caught me about Kris was he said, ‘When people talk about the best programs in the state of Arizona, I want people to think of Santa Rita High School.’ He said that over and over. He brought a plan of what he wanted to do to make that happen.”
Heavner came prepared for his interview after spending last season as an offensive graduate assistant for the Wildcats, working closely with quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo. Heavner previously served as an office aide for three years under coach Mike Stoops.
He started 14 games for Arizona in the 2003 and 2004 seasons before transferring to Baylor for the fall of 2005. He returned to UA in spring 2006 and, because of injuries to others, played most of the game against Oregon State on Oct. 21, 2006 — although he technically didn’t start because receiver Anthony Johnson took the first snap.
Heavner, mostly playing in the final year of John Mackovic era and the first season under Stoops, finished his Arizona career with 231 completions in 416 attempts for 2,529 yards, with 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. He started the first six games of Stoops’ UA career.
Beck said Heavner will start at Santa Rita as soon as all the paperwork and certification is completed, which, optimistically, could be in a few weeks.
Heavner will be trying to recapture the magic the program had recently under Jeff Scurran, who went 34-7 in three seasons, with a pair of state title game appearances, after inheriting an 0-10 team after the 2006 season.
Beck said Heavner’s youth was not a detraction.
“A lot of the coaches we interviewed were really young,” Beck said. “It’s about knowledge of the job and what he can bring to Santa Rita. …
“We’re really excited about having Kris as our coach. He has a strong desire to rebuild our program.”