(PALM SPRINGS) — The six-time champion SoCal Coyotes sent a clear message when their non-profit founder  J David Miller chose relatively unknown 30-year-old Zach Huff – a former SoCal standout linebacker and team captain – as their interim  head coach.

“The best way to demonstrate our absolute belief in the character and competence of our young men like Zach Huff is to promote them – and give them life-changing opportunities,” said Coach Miller, who put his Hall of Fame Coyote career on hold after he accepted a recent offer to become the new varsity head football coach at Desert Chapel High School.

“Zach is a remarkable young man of faith, whose strengths lie in his availability, adaptability, relationships, and willingness to delegate,” Miller added. “The Coyote organization manufactures ‘Above the Line’ leaders. Zach Huff represents our best.”

Christlike Character, Well-Rounded Men

“I am incredibly honored by this opportunity,” Huff said. “I want to thank (Coyotes owner) Coach Miller, (senior vice president) Ron DiGrandi, (assistant head coach) Lawrence Coffey and (GM) Scott Alvarez for their faith in me to lead the SoCal Coyotes as interim head coach.

“Collectively, we are committed to developing Christlike character in our players, producing well-rounded young men, and delivering championship-caliber football. I’m excited to be a product of that process, and to make our fans proud.”

Most recently, Huff was the defensive coordinator at alma mater Desert Hot Springs High School, where his people skills and schemes made those teams competitive. He will join Coach Miller’s Desert Chapel staff this fall. He has been a part of the Coyote organization since 2020, and recovered from a torn ACL in his last season at linebacker. He inherits a team that under Miller’s Hall of Fame reign has never missed the playoffs and has appeared in 10 title games – winning six.

Bold Ideas, Football IQ, and Hunger to Work

Huff’s appointment was a stunning announcement – one that few outside the Coyote building saw coming. While Huff is highly respected among local high schools as an up-and-coming defensive mind, he has understandably meager experience. He is also younger than a handful of Coyotes’ star veterans.

Even when word leaked that Coach Miller and GM Scott Alvarez were holding a series of private, game-changing interviews with Huff, nobody realized that the interim head coaching job was on the table.

“Coach Miller pressed him pretty hard – and Zach was equally prepared,” said Alvarez, of Huff’s interviews. “He never flinched. Zach was firm in his faith, had a passion and vision for the Coyote organization, and was able to share his ideals and present his plans in great detail. Frankly, it was impressive.”

Assistant head coach and defensive mastermind Lawrence Coffey has coached at all levels – high school, college and pro – and returns for his fourth Coyote season, and 20th year on the sidelines

Coach Coffey: Stability and Experience

Huff, like many young NFL hires, will benefit immediately from the stability and experience of a dynamic assistant head coach and defensive coordinator in Lawrence Coffey, who returns for his fourth Coyotes season and 20th year of coaching. Coach Coffey, who is widely regarded as one of the region’s best defensive strategists, was the final tipping point when he encouraged Coach Miller to give Huff the job.

“Zach has great football I.Q., with a three-dimensional understanding of how to lead, engage, accelerate and develop people,” said Coffey, “I’m not surprised at how well he interviewed, because that’s who he is. That’s how he lives his life. Zach is the real deal. He’s like a Sean McVay – age is irrelevant if you have bold ideas, you’re intelligent, authentic and willing to put in the work.”

While Huff faces plenty of challenges in his new job – a shortage of talent won’t be one of them, especially on the defensive side of the ball.  Since losing the league championship by only two scores in 2022, the Coyotes return a host of young pro prospects, including Defensive Player of the Year Phineas Yi, edge rusher Justin Sykes, and defensive back Vince Flores.

Responsibility, Accountability, Brotherhood

Huff played his prep ball locally at Desert Hot Springs before being accepted to Mount San Jacinto College, where he played two full seasons. In the classroom Huff developed a proclivity for collaboration and communication, and a disposition for curiosity and continuous learning.

That curiosity has propelled Huff in the ‘real world’ – where he owns a commercial contracting business and manages a respectable real estate and finance portfolio.

As far back as Zach can remember, his family has loved football. His grandfather ran track and played running back for San Pedro High. Since Zach was little, his uncle would take him fishing – and teach him how to lift, run and train for  upcoming seasons. Huff was 12 when he played his first season of organized tackle football, and immediately fell in love with the game.

“From the second I buckled up my first helmet, I found fellowship, responsibility, accountability and a brotherhood,” Huff said. “Once it grips you, it’s in you. Life without football isn’t life.”

Building Champions, Building Men™

As a faith-based non-profit leadership organization, the SoCal Coyotes frame policy and procedure from a Bible-based foundation. Similar to the baseline standards of Baylor or Texas Christian universities, the Coyotes live by their own ‘Above the Line’ leadership program that underscores character, competence and connection. Led by its players and coaches, the non-profit devotes thousands of hours annually to community service.

“What separates the Coyotes from all other organizations,” said Alvarez, “is we’re not just building champions, but building men.”

This requires passionate nurturing from Coyote coaches, according to Coffey, who described the Coyotes as “a discipleship program that raises up dominant athletes to be skillful, intentional, on-purpose and relentless leaders of faith.”

Hence the Coyotes insist that a person’s greatest impact is not in the sport they play – but the lives they lead.

“Case in point,” smiled Coffey, “is our new interim Head Coach Zach Huff.


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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