Kerry Taylor’s long and winding football road has taken him back home.
“It means a lot,” said Taylor, standing in the middle of his new home stadium at Arcadia High School. “It’s a school I think I can have a tremendous impact at and I’m just ready to get started.”
Taylor, 29, the former Hamilton High School, ASU and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver took another step in his burgeoning coaching career when he was named head football coach at Arcadia in late February.
“It’s really awesome to be able to be here and start my own program,” said Taylor. “People are supporting me and want me to do well. I just want to build something to make these people proud.”
[SPECIAL SECTION: Sports in Arizona]
Taylor has quite the task in turning around the Titan football program. Arcadia hasn’t won a game since September of 2016 and has amassed a grisly record of 2-18 over the past two seasons. It’s quite an undertaking for a young coach who just last season was roaming the sidelines in the Pac-12 as an assistant coach at Oregon State.
“It came down to [the fact] I wanted to have my own program,” said Taylor. “I wanted to be the leader of a program and implement the things I’ve learned throughout my career and instill them in these young kids who have the dream of playing college football and in the NFL.”
Taylor knows a little bit about making it, and not making it in the NFL. After leaving ASU in 2010, Taylor began a five-year, eight NFL team odyssey highlighted by an unforgettable Sunday with the Arizona Cardinals in 2013. In a September win over the Detroit Lions, Taylor filled in for an injured Larry Fitzgerald, making three key catches in a 25-21 Cardinals win. After the game, Taylor received a game ball from head coach Bruce Arians. It was the pinnacle of a playing career that soon would be over.
“My dream was to always play for the Cardinals,” said Taylor. “That was my No. 1 dream growing up – so when I had the opportunity to play with the Cardinals and in my first game, get a game ball from B.A., that made my entire life.”
When his NFL career finally ended two years later, Taylor began a nomadic coaching journey that took him from Chandler High School to Phoenix College to Salt River High School and last season to Oregon State. He comes home to Arcadia with a mind full of memories and a notebook full of football intelligence acquired from some of the game’s greatest minds.
“Being with Bruce Arians and then spending time in New England with Bill Belichick, you just learn different tips and different strategies,” Taylor said. “I’ve always taken notes every place I’ve been. I’ve got notebooks full of things I want to instill in this program.”
Taylor’s now taking that knowledge and taking aim at improving the Arcadia football program. He’s newly married and back home – after over a dozen stops on what’s already been a remarkable football journey.
“It’s one of those things where you [woke] up in your bed sometimes and wondered, where am I at exactly but it’s been a roller coaster ride I wouldn’t trade for [anything],” Taylor said. “The things I learned along the way, it’s all been for a purpose and that purpose was to build my own program. Today I have my own program and to have it in my home state, I’m just excited to get started.”
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