Originally Published: July 29, 2008 2:31 p.m.
PRESCOTT VALLEY - As his program's JV coach 25 years ago back in Michigan, Ron Fuson has a history on the sidelines with Chuck Apap.
So when Fuson finally got some visiting time with Apap - who's recovering from a heart attack and preparing for quadruple-bypass surgery later this week - on Tuesday, he wasn't surprised at Apap's feisty fire.
"He told me, 'I wish I'd have known it was this bad so I would have had it done sooner so I wouldn't miss any football'," Fuson laughed Tuesday evening.
While their coach's recovery could take up to 10 weeks, the Bradshaw Mountain Bears ready for the upcoming season without him. Fuson, now an assistant coach under Apap at Bradshaw, will act as interim head coach when preseason camp opens Monday with an expected 120 kids, followed by an Aug. 20 scrimmage and then the regular-season opener Aug. 29 against Buckeye.
Apap, the impassioned Bradshaw head coach, suffered a heart attack this past Sunday. Doctors had scheduled him for bypass surgery on Tuesday, then postponed the procedure to this coming Friday.
Apap is resting comfortably and in stable condition at Yavapai Regional Medical Center West, according to BMHS Athletic Director Maury Ruble.
"Chuck's fine. He's hanging in there," Ruble said Tuesday. "They wanted him to rest up a little bit."
Fuson was on Apap's staff as JV coach a quarter century ago when the two paired up at Walled Lake Western High School in Commerce Township, Mich.
Fuson's career as a high school head football coach eventually took him to Pine Bluffs, Wyo., with Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) stops at Ray High School in Kearny and at Valley Sanders.
The two reunited when Apap lured Fuson onto his staff at BMHS after arriving on the Prescott Valley campus four years ago. Fuson worked primarily with linebackers and special teams at Bradshaw the past two seasons.
Ruble announced Fuson's status as interim coach on Tuesday, less than a week before camp opens. Fuson inherits an offense without last year's starting quarterback Marshall Bailey, who has transferred to another school, without multi-threat wideout Justin Kilduff who graduated, and without wide receiver Nick Bradford, whose senior season began with a torn ACL this summer.
Fuson's biggest priority at this point is "keeping the kids' heads together" while Apap recovers. Apap's brother-in-law, Bob Kefjen, who helped install the Bradshaw offense, will fly in from Michigan to help open camp next week.
"We'll just kind of open the (play)book from last year," Fuson said. "We've got most of our staff back except for a few shuffles and changes. We've got a couple new young guys. Everybody's pretty much doing the same thing we did last year."
Apap's prognosis features four weeks of no activity following Friday's surgery. Four weeks of moderate activity follow beyond that, with Apap hoping to resume normal activity in 9-10 weeks.
Ten weeks from the surgery falls on the Bears' scheduled Oct. 3 road game at Raymond Kellis in Week 6, as Bradshaw prepares for what figures to be an emotional return to the sidelines for Apap.
"It will be," Fuson said. "It will be great to have him back. When I was asked to be acting coach, I said I'll do it but remember to use the word 'interim'. I don't want to take away anything from the man who runs the program."