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Alfonso Perez announced as new boys soccer head coach

The Gila Ridge High School boys soccer team will have a new leader as they defend their 2017-18 Arizona Interscholastic Association state championship next season.

The Yuma Union High School District Governing Board on Wednesday, June 20, 2018 approved the hiring of Alfonso Perez to take over as the boys varsity head coach.

Perez, who will teach science at Gila Ridge, has been involved as a soccer coach since 2010, when he was a volunteer assistant at Arizona Western College. He spent two years as the head coach of Antelope High School in Wellton, where he attended high school, and was an assistant coach under former Gila Ridge soccer coach Corey Semler for the past three seasons.

“I have a pretty good knowledge of what a head coach requires,” Perez said. “Working at AWC really prepared me. I know what type of development these players should be reaching to make it to the next level.”

Semler, who coached both soccer and football at Gila Ridge, resigned to focus on the GRHS football program. He amassed a 46-9-4 record in three years with the Hawks, including leading them to their first soccer state title in school history in February and being named the AIA boys soccer coach of the year.

“It was a difficult decision, but I know the program is in great hands with Coach Perez,” Semler said. “He is a great soccer coach and, most importantly, he knows our students. As an assistant coach he was a big part of our success. He will continue leading the program forward and I expect great things from him.”

Perez will be faced with managing a significantly different roster in 2018-19. The Hawks graduated 15 seniors, including the state’s top goal scorer, Esteban Franco. The forward finished with 39 goals, five of which came in the Hawks’ four-game playoff run.

Still, the young roster has plenty of bright spots returning including junior Evis Fierro and sophomore Gadiel German.

“When Corey took over three years ago, a majority of the varsity team was made up of sophomores,” Perez said. “We might do that again this coming year. I am definitely really excited. Some of the players that are returning from the state championship team can be leaders for the up and coming players. I’m sure those state guys who are returning can provide that experience, how to handle that pressure, and what the playoff experience is like.”

Eric Patten