Keelan McCaffrey hadn’t necessarily been looking for a reason to leave Minico High, his alma mater where he had spent the last seven years coaching.
But when the opportunity came to coach in one of the toughest football conferences in the state of Idaho, everything just seemed right to him and he took the jump.
McCaffrey was announced as the head coach at Centennial High last week, where he hopes to rebuild a program that has spent the last dozen years struggling in the 5A Southern Idaho Conference.
“It was a chance to put a stamp on something new,” said McCaffrey. “I’ve been very fortunate at Minico to have success and to have good kids and good coaches. When an opportunity like that comes up, it’s a chance to go and be in a 5A football conference with some of the best coaches and toughest competition. As far as a football standpoint, it’s a step up for me and I’m excited to go and try and turn something around.”
Centennial has not made the state playoffs since a 2010 run to the 5A State Championship Game, where the Patriots lost to Coeur d’Alene. In the 12 seasons since then, Centennial has not had a winning record, averaging just over two wins per season. Last year, the Patriots went 1-8.
Meanwhile, at Minico, where McCaffrey has been the head coach the past five seasons after serving as an assistant coach for two years, the Spartans have been a mainstay in the 4A State Playoffs in recent years.
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Under McCaffrey, Minico qualified for the state playoffs all five seasons, advancing to the 4A State Semifinals this past fall. He posted a 38-13 record and led the Spartans to outright 4A Great Basin Conference Championships in each of the past two seasons.
McCaffrey said Centennial was the one to reach out to him, asking if he’d be willing to come up and interview for the job. While he was visiting the school, he saw a team, an administration and a school that was really wanting to build a winning football tradition.
“When I started to dive into it a little bit deeper, this was a good fit,” McCaffrey said. “That was the only way to get me out of Minico High School is to find a fit that was good for me and my family.”
It’s also a bit of a career move for him, not only as far as football goes, but education wise, as well. McCaffrey teaches science, but also recently earned a master’s degree in administration, and Centennial felt like the right place for the 30-year-old to climb the career latter.
“It’s a lot of excitement, and I think the next word for me is challenging,” said McCaffrey. “What a great challenge and a great opportunity. The fact that they’re looking to me to turn the program around, it’s just awesome.”