One of these days, Will Munsil will take the Arizona Bar Exam and become a practicing attorney.
At least that’s the plan. That’s always been the plan. Go to law school, pass the bar and hang up a shingle.
But Munsil graduated in May, here it is October, and he’s talking about taking the exam next summer — maybe. He’s not really sure about anything anymore.
It’s not that he’s soured on the law. It’s just that he found a job he really loves, even though the hours are long, the pay is lousy and the failure stays with him far longer than the triumph. He’s a coach — a high school football coach — and right now, it’s hard for him to imagine being anything else.
“I do think there’s a feeling about being on the sideline on Friday night that almost no court case could possibly match,” Munsil said.
Those feelings are particularly profound this fall. Scottsdale Prep, which enters the Division VI playoffs with an 8-0 record and as the No.1 seed, is attempting to become the first metro team to win the eight-man state title since Phoenix Northwest Community Christian in 1996. Scottsdale will play the winner of Friday’s first-round game between Phoenix Valley Lutheran and Duncan on Oct. 26.
A good lawyer would argue that Scottsdale Prep can’t make much of a case for its championship aspirations. The school has been playing football for only three years — two years as a full-fledged member of the Arizona Interscholastic Association — and it doesn’t even have its own field; it plays its home games at Scottsdale Chaparral or Gilbert Christian.
But Scottsdale Prep voiced a powerful argument on its own behalf when it beat traditional power Heber Mogollon 64-52 on Sept. 29. The victory showed how far the program has come. Last season, Scottsdale Prep was crushed by Mogollon 86-8.
“I think we expected a different game (in 2011), but I’m not sure anybody was ready for the speed and physicality we experienced,” Munsil said. “More than anything, that taught us what it takes to be a competitive team at this level.
“That was the first team we played that looked to dominate you physically as part of their game plan. After that, we took a step back, re-evaluated things and put a premium and emphasis on toughness, handling adversity and handling the type of physical pain that comes from a hard-hitting football game.”
Perhaps the oddest thing about Scottsdale Prep’s quick ascension is that it was never meant to happen this way. Munsil was assisting on the junior high staff two years ago when the varsity coach suddenly left for another opportunity right before the season.
Munsil was 23. He had graduated from Scottsdale Christian — where he played football and baseball — just five years earlier. But he suddenly found himself the varsity coach — while at the same time going to law school.
Told how unusual it is for a 23-year-old to be a head coach Munsil, now 25, replied, “It’s sort of amazing for me, too.”
Had it been any school other than Scottsdale Prep, Munsil might have declined the offer and fully pursued his education. But he couldn’t pass up the chance to coach his younger brother, Matt, who as a junior this season has caught 58 passes for 1,171 yards and 24 touchdowns.
“You only get so many years in life to do what you want to do without regard to salary,” Will Munsil said. “You see a lot of father-son coaching relationships, but you don’t see a lot of brother-brother. It’s really been a chance to do something together that we both think is significant. It’s something I’ve found a lot of joy in.”
He has enjoyed coaching so much that a future that seemed so certain just a few years ago has become uncertain. He knows he’ll coach and teach at Scottsdale Prep through Matt’s senior season. After that, who knows?
“Coaching will be a part of my life in some way or the other,” he said. “I’m just not sure exactly how going forward.”
For now, the bar exam can wait. The final exams of the postseason are about to begin.
Reach Bordow at email@example.com or 602-444-7996. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/sBordow.