Sunrise Mountain High School's move up a classification to the 5A Conference next year means the Mustangs will have Peoria High on the schedule for the first time.
So, before making the move up, the Mustangs figured it was as good a time as any to snare one of the Panthers' long-time coaches.
William Babb, a nine-year assistant for Peoria, his alma mater, has been named Sunrise Mountain's new coach after a search committee found a replacement for Jim Davis.
Davis resigned last year after holding the position for three years. Davis guided the Mustangs to a 9-21 record and resigned to spend more time with his family.
Babb was selected from a 26-person pool of applicants to lead the Mustangs through the transition up a classification.
"The biggest thing that interested me (in the job) is I grew up in this area," Babb said. "I'm a big Peoria supporter. Coach Davis did a good job, and I thought it was a good job for me."
Babb, who played quarterback for Peoria coach Doug Clapp during two state championship seasons in the 1980s, also was on the 1988 NJCAA national championship team for Glendale Community College.
That was the end of Babb's playing days. Babb pursued a teaching degree at Northern Arizona University and began helping out Peoria's team while student teaching.
"As the years progressed, (Clapp) gave me a little more rope," Babb said about his PHS coaching duties, adding he concentrated on offensive specialty players. "We worked on game plans together."
The 32-year-old Babb was one of only two district coaches to apply for the job.
"I was kind of surprised only two from the district applied but I guess they were the only ones who felt like they were ready for the job," Sunrise Mountain athletic director Terry Hjelmstad said.
A district screening committed narrowed the list of 26 names to eight for second interviews.
Of those, four were brought back for a third and final interview before the committee made its recommendation to Sunrise Mountain principal Andrea Strack.
"It's going to be a real change for our whole program," Hjelmstad said. "Moving up to 5A, moving up to a different region, playing Ironwood and Peoria in our district, rather than Centennial and Cactus. It'll be different."
Babb, who has taught for eight years, is in his first year as a guidance counselor at Peoria.
Hjelmstad said the school would find either a teaching or counseling position for Babb in the fall. Babb is also involved with Peoria's Discovery Program and may continue that at Sunrise Mountain.
"We'll see what opportunities arise up there," Babb said. "I'll do whatever they feel comfortable. I'm just excited to get going."
Babb has yet to meet with Sunrise Mountain players, but said he plans on doing so after the winter sports season finishes.