Preparations for a scrimmage were the last thing on Chandler (Ariz.) football coach Shaun Aguano’s mind when he heard about the death of former Chandler offensive lineman Zach Hemmila on Monday morning.
“It’s hard because he was part of our family,” Aguano said. “They’re all my babies. When you lose a baby way too soon, it’s tough.”
Hemmila, a fifth-year senior playing for the University of Arizona, was a senior during Aguano’s first season as head coach at Chandler in 2011. That team went 8-4.
Hemmila also started his sophomore and junior football seasons at Chandler under then-head coach Jim Ewan, who was shocked by the news Monday.
“It’s one of those really sad situations all the way around,” said Ewan, who is in his second season leading Mesa Westwood. “He was a really good student when I was a teacher there. He was a really good athlete. He played (club) lacrosse through high school. He had to be the biggest lacrosse player in the state. It’s why he got recruited. He could run so well.”
Aguano said that Hemmila’s parents still are involved with the Chandler football program, taking part in annual golf tournaments and coming to the Wolves’ games.
“I feel absolutely for the family,” Aguano said. “They’re huge supporters of us. I’ve been getting calls from former players. He was well-liked. It makes it tough.
“It’s tough. But you’ve got to move on and support the family.”