Jim Beall won his three state championships before he stepped foot at Gilbert (Arizona) Higley in 2001.
Even though he didn’t win another title, he left an imprint in the football community that will never be forgotten.
On Wednesday night, Beall lost his battle to cancer at age of 65.
Beall, who won state championships in 1991 and ’92 in Snowflake and another at Payson in 1998, started Higley’s football program in 2001, when he was hired by now-Chandler Principal Bernie Hibbard.
Five years later, Beall led Higley to the 4A Division I state championship game, a loss to 15-0 Cave Creek Cactus Shadows. It is the only time Higley has ever reached the state final in football.
Beall, who also coached at Kearny Ray, stepped down as head coach at Higley in 2010 after 48 wins in nine seasons.
On Wednesday night, Higley Football tweeted, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Beall family tonight. Thank you for being a great teacher and coach at Higley. Your saying at Higley still lives on “First class or No class” RIP Coach Jim Beall.”
In 2013, Beall entered the Arizona High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
“He welcomed me to Higley with open arms,” said Higley coach Eddy Zubey, who led the Knights to the 4A state semifinals last year. “He helped me connect with the Higley community and I will be forever grateful for that.
“He helped everybody he could, no matter who they were.
Chandler Hamilton Athletic Director Brett Palmer, who played football at Tempe Marcos de Niza and Arizona State, got his first coaching job from Beall at Higley.
“One of the most genuine, caring people that you ever met,” Palmer said. “Kids loved playing for him, staff loved being around him.
“He would give the shirt off his back and the last dollar in his wallet to you, that was the kind of person he was. I’ll never forget, one day after practice, Coach was talking to the team and all of a sudden he raised his voice and said, ‘You do things with first class or no class.’ That’s what he was about, first class.”