Originally Published: October 1, 2008 7:08 p.m.
PRESCOTT VALLEY - As of Wednesday, Chuck Apap is no longer the head football coach at Bradshaw Mountain High School.
Representatives from the Humboldt Unified School District, including BMHS Athletic Director Maury Ruble and Apap himself, declined to comment when contacted Wednesday night, referring all questions to Mariela Bean, public relations official.
"I'm not allowed to say anything," Apap said. "I've been given an order not to say anything."
Apap, who suffered a heart attack in late July and later underwent a quintuple-bypass surgery, did say "I'm feeling great" when asked about his health.
Assistant coach Ron Fuson, who has been the interim coach since Apap's surgery, will become the permanent head coach effective immediately, according to a district statement Bean issued.
"Upon deliberate and thoughtful administrative review of the current BMHS Football Program headship arrangement, the decision has been made to confer upon Mr. Ron Fuson full head coaching responsibilities for the rest of the school year," the statement read. "It is the District's hope that this will support the need for consistent and effective direction for our football team and promote programmatic success."
Reached for further comment late Wednesday night, Bean declined to elaborate on specific reasons for the coaching change.
"The district just is not at liberty to discuss personnel issues," she said via a telephone interview. "We just think it would be in the best interest of the kids. We can't discuss personnel issues by policy."
She wouldn't confirm whether or not Apap had actually resigned.
"He's just being 'reassigned' is what the legal definition is," she clarified. "Meaning that the responsibilities of being head coach will not reside to him at this point."
The Michigan native took over the 4A-II Bradshaw Mountain program prior to the 2005 season. In his inaugural season on the sidelines, Apap led the Bears from a 2-9 finish the year before to a 7-4 mark and their first state playoff berth as a 4A school.
In his three full seasons as head coach (2005-07), the Bears finished 18-17, advanced to the state playoffs in all three years and beat their crosstown rival, Prescott, for the first time in 10 seasons.
The 2008 season got off to an inauspicious start with news of Apap's heart attack in late July. His ensuing bypass surgery went well enough for Apap to return to coaching, albeit in a limited role, well ahead of schedule.
Apap attended the Bears' season opener against Buckeye at the NAU Skydome in Flagstaff on Aug. 30, wearing headphones and calling plays from the sideline and away from the action, per doctors' orders, to avoid any near-field collisions with the action.
With Fuson - also his former assistant back in Michigan - working the sidelines, Apap continued to attend games and coach from the scorer's booth via headset. But the team, which lost to Buckeye in the opener, continued to struggle.
This past Friday, Bradshaw dropped a 55-21 homecoming decision to Class 3A's No. 2-ranked Payson to fall to 0-5 on the season.
Fans, as well as current and former players, spoke out in droves on online message boards at dCourier.com, lamenting the team's poor start and questioning everything from team spirit to leadership to play calling (see related link below).
The tumultuous season came to a crescendo Wednesday evening with the athletic department's announcement that Apap was no longer the head coach. He will retain his position as math teacher at the high school.
Back in Michigan prior to relocating to Arizona, Apap won a state championship in 1996 at Walled Lake Central. He was enshrined into Michigan's High School Football Hall of Fame in 2000, and he moved west with a 133-114-1 career coaching record.
In the summer of 2007, Apap represented Arizona at the NFL Youth Football Summit in Canton, Ohio.
Bradshaw Mountain's season continues this Friday at Raymond Kellis down in Glendale.