Running the Vista Ridge offense the last two seasons might not have sealed Jerimi Calip's chance of being named the head football coach, but it did little to harm it.
The Wolves named Calip their third football coach in the program's history, promoting him from offensive coordinator/assistant head coach.
"Jerimi's philosophy fit in with what we're looking for and that was developing good character in kids," first-year athletic director Devin Allen said on Thursday. "Granted he knows the kids already and that doesn't hurt."
Plenty of those kids he knows are slated to return next season. On defense, the Wolves will lose only two starters, Calip said, while on offense, many key pieces return, including quarterback Elway Tubbs, who last season threw for a Pikes Peak region best 2,564 yards as a sophomore.
"It gives me a huge advantage going into this situation," Calip said. "I understand their mentality, their strengths and weaknesses. I think that plays a huge role. Talent wins you football games, but building those relationships with the kids wins you championships."
Calip takes over at a program that has seen the two prior coaches leave under unusual circumstances.
According to a news release from the district, previous coach Les Johnson "resigned" in December after coaching the team to a 25-9 record and three playoff appearances in three seasons. Johnson had been named interim head coach after Huffman's firing. Then Johnson was told he was being replaced the following season (after coaching the Wolves to a 9-2 record), only to be reinstated as head coach when Vista Ridge's first choice failed a background check.
Huffman was fired in an even more bizarre scenario. After starting the program and coaching it to the 3A semifinals in his third season he was fired three days before practice began in 2011 with no warning.
Huffman's firing was also addressed solely in a statement in which the reasoning was the school wanted to go in "a different direction with our football program."
Calip, who was with Falcon when Huffman was fired and worked under Johnson when Johnson didn't return, has seen it happen first-hand.
"I respect both of those coaches tremendously," said the native Oklahoman. "I feel like being close to it I can look at stuff we can improve on and hopefully get us over the hump."
Calip was chosen out of 43 candidates.
"We feel like he's going to carry over the positive parts of the program and not some of the things we were looking to get away from," Allen said. "There are some people who had the perception he was a shoo-in, but he earned the job throughout the interview process."
While most of the team already is aware that Calip is taking over, he has yet to address the players as the official head coach. But already knows what he's going to tell them.
"I think the biggest thing is I want them to know how excited I am to lead them," Calip said. "Basically I want them to know there's going to be some changes. We're going to keep doing things the right way and I'm going to try and help them accomplish some of the goals they have to be an elite program and hopefully win a state title."