By Andrew Bell
Over the weekend, the winningest high school football coach in the state of Arizona passed away at the age of 66 years old.
Paul Moro, who led Blue Ridge High School to 13 state championships, was suffering from stage four cancer, and had recently sustained his second stroke just a couple days prior to Christmas. He passed away at his home in Gilbert last Saturday.
Moro will be remembered for his accomplishments both on and off the field in helping develop young athletes, and he had many battles on the gridiron during his coaching tenure. He won 336 games, and some of those highly-competitive contests were in rivalry matchups against former Show Low head coach Randy Ricedorff. Earlier this week, Ricedorff took time to speak with Sports360AZ to recall some of his favorite memories and clashes with teams that were headed by Moro.
“Show Low and Blue Ridge is a huge rivalry, and it’s been that way for some time,” Ricedorff said. “We were two guys who have common goals, and we are trying to develop young men and build character. I think we had a lot in common and I know we are both very competitive…He was always very professional in everything that he did and always looked out for the best interests of kids.”
Ricedorff has fond, and not so fond memories of Moro’s teams, with the not so fond memories being in games that Ricedorff was defeated by Moro. He reminisced on games that went down to the wire against Blue Ridge, and how Moro would still find ways to come out on top.
It’s what made Moro the winningest coach in Arizona.
“I remember some of our losses like it was yesterday, because they were hurtful,” Ricedorff said. “There were teams where I clearly thought we had the better team and we didn’t win. And again, that just tells you how good he was and how good his staff was.”
Ricedorff and Moro had many toe-to-toe stalemates on the sidelines. They were two football minds trying to outmatch the other. It was competition at its finest. But with those clashes came a mutual respect for one another.
“My hat is off to what a great coach he was and what a great staff they were” Ricedorff said. “People expected Blue Ridge to win games, and it was very hard to change that mindset.”
Between regular season and playoff meetings that seemingly occurred every year, Ricedorff noted he never beat Moro twice in one year.
Both coaches eventually went their separate ways, with Moro coaching at Tempe Marcos de Niza before his passing. Ricedorff is now the Athletic Director, and the head football coach at the American Leadership Academy (ALA) in Gilbert.
Nonetheless, their battles can be reflected on, and the legacy of Moro will extend for years to come at the high school level. The Blue Ridge High School football field will be named after Moro beginning next fall.
However, while his lessons were taught on the field, it is what occurred off the field that Ricedorff will remember most about Moro’s legacy.
“If you are just gauging your success on wins and losses, you are going to fail. I think the coaches that have built a legacy of winning, they are really focused on the process, and that process is developing individual character of each of the individuals on your team, and developing team chemistry,” said Ricedorff of Moro’s legacy.
“To me, that is really what his legacy was. He truly cared about, and had great relationships with those young men. He helped them set goals, he helped them be better fathers, better members of the community, and guys that were goal-driven and had success after high school…At the end of the day, that’s really what his legacy is – A man that helped develop individual champions, and men of character.”