Originally Published: December 11, 2015 6:02 a.m.
PRESCOTT - Prescott High football coach Cody Collett resigned on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 9, after four successful seasons with the storied program to accept a similar position at Poston Butte south of Queen Creek near Phoenix.
Collett told the Courier that he will finish the 2015-16 academic year at Prescott, which ends in May, before relocating to Gilbert, where he and his family have a home.
A fiery, hard-working coach who quickly earned the respect of his players, Collett finishes his Prescott tenure with a 27-14 overall record and one state playoff appearance, which came during his first season in 2012. Collett was named the Courier's high school football coach of the year that fall.
"The kids at Prescott are the best I've ever coached, and it's been a great four years," said Collett, who will serve as the head football coach and as a teacher at Poston Butte. "The community's been awesome. I've been blessed."
Prescott didn't have any sub-.500 seasons under Collett. In 2015, the Badgers finished with a 7-3 record, losing the section title to Mingus Union, 27-7, on the final day of the regular season, Oct. 30, at Shepard Field in Prescott.
Prescott High Athletic Director Missy Townsend said Collett will be missed on campus, where he was also a physical education teacher.
"It's super sad to see Cody leave because he did such a fantastic job with our football team," Townsend said. "He will be hard to replace."
Townsend added that she has posted the school's football coach opening on the Internet at aiaonline.org and is in the process of placing it on the Prescott Unified School District's website (prescottschools.com).
She said she wants to hire a new football coach by spring break, March 7-11, 2016, which would be around the time of spring ball.
Townsend will screen all applicants before paring the field down to three to five finalists. A hiring committee, which will likely include district and Prescott High administrators as well as community members, will be involved in the new hire, Townsend added.
Collett, who originally came to Prescott from Phoenix, said he spent the past several days with his wife mulling whether to depart. Collett said it was gut-wrenching for him because he loves the program and Prescott.
However, Collett has been renting a home in Prescott, and much of his extended family lives in the Phoenix area. He will earn a considerably higher salary at Poston Butte, and that was a factor, too. Collett and his wife have a young daughter together and they had their future to consider.
Collett met with his players late Wednesday afternoon at the high school to tell them the news first. Collett said he had difficulty getting through the meeting without shedding tears.
"This is a great school with wonderful kids," Collett said. "(Prescott High principal) Stephanie (Hillig) is an amazing principal, and Prescott is lucky to have her."
During his tenure at Prescott, Collett doubled as the offensive coordinator, calling the plays in a run-dominated, spread-like offense that featured a centerpiece rusher.
From tailbacks Brady Mengarelli (2012) to Kaine Bayze (2013) to Skylor Clinton (2014) to Christian Setter (2015), each of them ran for more than 1,000 yards, respectively.
Prescott senior offensive lineman Carl Wilson said Collett installed "a great workout program for us" during his four years that made the players "mentally and physically tougher."
"Collett's a great coach, and he takes pride in it and us," Wilson added. "Poston Butte will love him there. He develops young men into what they need to be."
In the wake of Collett departing, Setter, a junior, said the current Badgers need to focus on keeping the team intact and continuing to grow closer.
"One of the main things coach Collett always taught us is, 'we want to be a family,' " Setter said. "I think, honestly, the best teams, they are always close and they're a family. And like he says, if you're fighting someone, if you're hitting a guy like this (with an open hand), nothing's going to really happen. But if you have a closed fist, something's going to happen."
Prescott senior tight end Derek Knotek said he doesn't see the program's core values and ideals changing under a new coach. The Badgers' football program has been going strong for more than 100 years.
"Prescott football is always going to be 'hard tail' - there's always going to be good guys on the team," he added. "As far as coaching, it's going to be good. We have all of our (assistant) coaches here, and we have a lot of good assets with the administration backing us up."
Prescott junior defensive end Wyatt Blair said the underclassmen players coming up through the program are talented, and he likes the direction they're headed.
"There's a real good future for this team," Blair added.
Badgers senior linebacker Luke Roberts said the players liked Collett because they knew where they stood with him.
"They need to find a coach and have all the guys stay focused," Roberts added. "He (Collett) was never friends with us (and that didn't bother us). He was always serious and didn't choose favorites."
For Collett, his next chapter as a coach will be at the helm of Poston Butte's football program, which has been mediocre in recent years and went 0-10 this fall. But Collett said he embraces the challenge "of trying to rebuild" the Broncos.
Division II Poston Butte has a larger enrollment than Prescott, and Collett said Poston has growth potential.
At the same time, though, Collett said it will be difficult for him to leave Prescott, which gave him his first head-coaching job.
"I will forever be indebted to Prescott and what they did for my family," Collett added. "It's been an amazing four years. Prescott's a special place on Friday nights."
Follow Doug Cook on Twitter @dougout_dc. Reach him at 928-445-3333 ext. 2039, or 928-642-7865.