Arizona Christian University President Len Munsil announced Thursday that veteran Valley high school coach Donnie Yantis will be the first head coach for the ACU Firestorm, who begin NAIA collegiate football in the fall of 2014.

“We had dozens of outstanding candidates, many of whom had college and professional head coaching experience,” said Munsil. “But as we moved into the process, Donnie’s outstanding reputation among Arizona high school coaches, his work ethic, his high standards of personal integrity and his enthusiasm for the role of football in the Christ-centered mission of Arizona Christian University set him apart.”

“I am excited, honored, blessed and humbled by the opportunity to build a great football program that glorifies God at an outstanding Christian university,” Yantis said. “I can’t wait to get started!”

Arizona State Deputy Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator Mike Norvell applauded ACU’s decision to hire Yantis.

“Donnie Yantis was one of the first Arizona high school coaches to meet and spend time with me and Coach Graham and the ASU coaching staff,” said Norvell. “We have the utmost respect for him. He is a great teacher of the game, constantly seeking ways to improve himself as a coach, and very detail oriented. What he has accomplished at Paradise Valley High is phenomenal, and he is a top-notch choice to begin the football program at Arizona Christian University.”

Munsil explained ACU’s desire to build its program with an outstanding local coach.

“We believe in the quality and depth of Arizona high school football, and we believe as the only small college football program in the state that we can attract and compete nationally by recruiting outstanding local athletes,” Munsil said. “We will recruit nationally, but we will start here in our backyard. As Arizona’s premiere, nonprofit Christian university, we want to give Arizona high school football players a chance to show the rest of the country just how good we are. Donnie Yantis understands that vision.

“The response from the community to our decision to start football has been outstanding,” Munsil said. “Already more than 200 student athletes have filled out recruiting questionnaires expressing interest in joining ACU’s first squad.”

Yantis, 42, started coaching at his alma mater Paradise Valley High shortly after concluding his playing career and earning his bachelor’s degree from Southern Utah University. After serving as recruiting coordinator at Glendale Community College, he earned a Master’s Degree from NAU and took his first high school head coaching job at age 28 at Glendale High. The next year he moved to PV High, where he has compiled a record of 94-70 and is the winningest coach in school history, with nine playoff appearances in 13 seasons.

Donnie and his wife Laurie attend Christ’s Church of the Valley, where Donnie came to faith and was baptized in 2010.

“I am excited to have this opportunity to lead and mentor young men to not only be good citizens, but also to grow in their relationship with Christ,” Yantis said. “ACU is a strong Christian community that develops leaders of character and purpose, and football is a demanding sport that provides great opportunities for personal and spiritual growth. I am thrilled to be joining an outstanding athletic department at ACU.”

Arizona Christian University, founded in 1960, is a fully accredited private college offering degrees in a wide variety of majors. The school also offers 16 intercollegiate athletic programs, providing athletic and academic scholarships and competing in both the NAIA Division 1, and also in the National Christian College Athletic Association. For more information about ACU athletics, visit the athletics website at www.acufirestorm.com. Potential football players and other athletes can fill out a recruiting questionnaire at the athletics website.

For more information about Arizona Christian University, or to apply for admission, visit the school website at www.arizonachristian.edu.