Home Coyote Spotlight MILLER DIPS INTO SOCAL COYOTES TALENT POOL FOR DESERT CHAPEL FOOTBALL STAFF

MILLER DIPS INTO SOCAL COYOTES TALENT POOL FOR DESERT CHAPEL FOOTBALL STAFF

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(PALM SPRINGS) — With a whole staff of assistant coaches to hire – and spring practices only a month away – new Desert Chapel High School head coach J David Miller is dipping into the deep, talented and trusted resource pool of the six-time champion SoCal Coyotes non-profit sports leadership organization, where  he compiled a record of 106-16 over the past decade.

Desert Chapel leadership chose Coach Miller to steer its tackle football program into “a new era.” The private 42-year-old institution has major plans to rapidly multiply enrollment on the D.C. campus and update athletic facilities – beginning with their hiring of Miller to upgrade the football program from eight-man to 11-man play in the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF).

Three names already have been confirmed.

Veteran all-league left tackle Johnathan Zazueta will coach Desert Chapel’s offensive line. Wide receiver Derek ‘D.A.’ Anderson – whose Coyote career and subsequent film earned him a full scholarship at Arizona Christian University – returns to the desert with his degree in business and education. He plans to teach and coach at Desert Chapel this fall.

Then there’s the wild ride of former Coyotes’ linebacker Zach Huff, whose promising playing hopes and dreams were crushed after he suffered a devastating knee injury 18 months ago.

A football prodigy, Huff shifted his focus to coaching, and swiftly caught the eyes of other coaches and rose through the local ranks. Huff coached defense at Desert Hot Springs High last fall – and was the very first Coyote to follow Coach Miller to Desert Chapel.

Desert Chapel – ‘A Faith-Based IMG’

“When I blew out my knee, Coach Miller told me, ‘God wastes no pain,'” said Huff. “My verse through those dark days was Isaiah 43:2, which says, ‘When you pass through the water, I’ll be with you … when you walk through the fire, you won’t be burned.’

“I totally put all my faith and trust in God, put my head down, and went to work.”

Huff’s faith blossomed – and God has shown him favor. For starters, Huff shined in interviews, and was named the new Desert Chapel defensive coordinator.

“Desert Chapel is going to be a faith-based IMG,” predicted Huff, after meeting with pastors and seeing the plans for the future. “They’re pouring in the prayer, the process and the people to become a national player in academics, music and athletics.”

Then came the stunning news: Coach Miller was stepping back – for now – from Coyote football to focus on his expanding role at Desert Chapel. In an equally surprising announcement, the non-profit made Huff the Coyotes’ new interim head coach.

“These past few months have been an unbelievable journey,” smiled the 30-year-old Huff. “God has exchanged all my adversity with the means, motive and opportunity for me to help so many young people get over the finish line. I can confidently say I’m exactly where God wants me to be.”

Left tackle Johnathan Zazueta is the only Coyote who has played for the SoCal franchise since its inception in 2012

Leadership, Inc.

“About a dozen” more current and former Coyotes are interviewing for only six remaining football positions at Desert Chapel, according to Coach Miller, who said the process “is going swiftly and smoothly.”

“Our coaches are all disciplers,” assured Coach Miller. “We want our players and coaches to always be growing. Winning is important – but it’s only important if our entire process glorifies and pleases the Lord. From top-to-bottom, the ‘nurture and direction’ principles of 1 Thessalonians will be applied.”

Nobody understands ‘top-to-bottom’ transformations more than Johnathan Zazueta, Desert Chapel’s new offensive line coach – and the Coyotes’ massive 6-4, 330-pound offensive tackle. He has been with Coach Miller since 2012 – and for all six of the Coyotes championships.

Today, Zazueta is a happily married, hard-working pillar of the community, and a father of three beautiful kids. But when he was a teenager, his choices, choices, choices frequently put him opposite of the law, and inside Juvenile Hall. John ran from the truth, ran from the Lord, even ran from the police – but he couldn’t outrun his mother’s prayers. 

Your Walk – and Your Talk

Like so many other Indio teens in his neighborhood – Zazueta wound up in the wrong place, with wrong friends, in the wrong crowd, at the wrong time. But that message of hope, delivered by his grandmother and mother, turned his life around.

“They said, ‘read your Bible – there’s a calling on your life,’” John said. “I couldn’t run away from it. I made a decision that day. It hasn’t been a bed of roses. But every day I step toward being a man of God, that my people, my community, my mother, my grandmother can admire and respect.”

“For me to live is Christ – and to die is gain.”

Zazueta won’t just be coaching football at Desert Chapel – he’ll be applying Philippians 1:20-21 to all the young men in his charge. Having been on both sides of the fence – he also understands the critical importance of coaches and players alike to ‘walk the talk’ … to be examples who are bold in their love for the Lord, able to stand up against the temptations philosophies of the world.

“No more blaming, complaining, or excuses,” Zazueta explained. “Excuses are tools of the enemy that build monuments to nothingness. Those who excel in excuses seldom excel at anything else.”

‘New Energy, New Ideas’

New Desert Chapel teacher and assistant coach Derek ‘D.A.’ Anderson saw his whole life change after a breakout Coyotes season in 2018

Coach Miller and his new Desert Chapel staff are already developing long-range strategic and personnel plans for the Eagles. No question is stupid, no detail too small, no minutiae irrelevant – such as the minute-by-minute choreographing of practices; breaking down individual and group tactics into parts; and defining responsibilities and setting objectives for both players and coaches.

Back in 2018, Derek ‘D.A.’ Anderson absorbed himself in the minutiae of Coach Miller’s system: From pre-dawn Bible studies to late-night film sessions, Anderson consumed everything the Coyote developmental  ‘machine’ threw at him. By season’s end Anderson was teaching Coyotes’  ‘Above the Line’ leadership programs during the day and lighting up practices at night. The Coyotes won another championship – and the one-time street free agent got a full college ride.

“Coach Miller believed in me,” Anderson said. “If you put God first and put in the work, Coach will pour into you. When you step on the Desert Chapel campus now, you can feel that same synergy, energy and new ideas driving us forward.”

Coach Huff agreed.

“The opportunity to lead the Desert Chapel defense is an honor,” he said. “I’m so excited and blessed to now be part of the D.C. family. The valley better get used to hearing about Desert Chapel – spiritually, academically, and athletically. We’re chasing excellence, every day, and it starts now.”

ABOUT DESERT CHAPEL HIGH SCHOOL

Desert Chapel Christian High School provides students with an education that is Christ-centered and Biblically-directed, encourages a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, fosters academic excellence, Christian values, as well as physical and social well-being. Located in the resort city of Palm Springs, California, DCHS students acquire wisdom, knowledge, and a Biblical foundation, evidenced by academic excellence and Christian service, leadership, stewardship, and worship. Discover more at DCEagles.org.

ABOUT THE SOCAL COYOTES

In 2021, California State Senator Melissa Melendez selected the six-time champion SoCal Coyotes from 40,000 other District 28 Inland Empire and Coachella Valley organizations as ‘Nonprofit of the Year.’ Learn more about how the Coyote full-service nonprofit organization annually impacts thousands of lives across the region at TheSoCalCoyotes.com.

The SoCal Coyotes are the national standard of American developmental football, and are 106-16 under Hall of Fame head coach and non-profit founder J David Miller. The Coyotes’ organization provides elite athletes a professional environment that refines and showcases their skills through trademarked processes similar to the NBA’s D-league and MLB’s minor-league systems.

Additionally, the Coyotes’ 501c3 and award-winning ‘Above The Line™’ leadership programs impacts the social, mental and physical growth of more than 50,000 youth annually through remedial curriculum, training camps, clinics and symposia. In 2014, NFL executives have named the SoCal Coyotes organization America’s #1 Developmental Football Program™ for its national, scalable brands, community outreach programs, nine-year operational track record, verifiable data, youth curriculum, sales, public-private sector alliances, and measured results.

 

 

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