YUKON — A few weeks ago, Yukon athletic director David Fisher looked out his office window onto the school's basketball court and envisioned the future of Miller basketball.
Scott Raper was coaching on the sideline.
In reality, Raper was coaching Centennial in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs, but Fisher had his sights set on making Raper the next boys coach at Yukon once the season ended.
It became official late Monday night with approval from the Yukon school board.
“We had 50 applicants for this job in a two-week period, but I contacted Scott myself, because I didn't know if a coach of his caliber would apply for our job,” Fisher said. “But I wasn't going to leave it to chance.
“We just couldn't be more excited to have a coach like Scott taking over our program.”
Hiring Raper is a big boost for Yukon, but probably a bigger loss for Centennial, which won 98 games and two state titles in six seasons under Raper, the program's only coach.
“What he was able to accomplish there in a short amount of time was unheard of,” Oklahoma City Public Schools athletic director Keith Sinor said. “He has built that program, and set them up for success in the years to come.
“Scott's a good coach, and we know he's going to do a great job for Yukon.”
Raper took over when the school opened its doors in the fall of 2007, and won only one game the first season. But three seasons later, Centennial was the Class 3A state champion. Then the Bison added another title in 2012, and reached the semifinals this past season. Raper's value at Centennial reached outside the basketball gym.
“We all know that athletes are leaders in the school, just because they're athletes,” Centennial principal Charmaine Johnson said earlier this month. “(Raper's) message of having high expectations reaches beyond the basketball team.”
Walking away from something he built from the ground up was not easy for Raper. But the decision was about more than basketball. “It took a lot of thought,” Raper said. “I told the players that I knew I was leaving a team that more than likely was a state championship team.
“I'm very thankful to all the players I coached at Centennial, and all the faculty and administration, because it was great and I enjoyed it.
“I have an opportunity to go to a school where my wife and I will be able to teach in the same school district and my son will be in the same school district with us, and I'll be able to watch the things that he does growing up.”
Raper currently lives in Moore, where his wife previously worked in elementary education.
While he won't be starting a program from scratch at Yukon, Raper has a building project ahead of him. The Millers won two games last season, and coach Ralph Nigro stepped down at the end of the year. Yukon hasn't been to the state tournament since 1996.
But with facilities that rival any high school in the state, and the eighth-largest student body to pull athletes from, Raper has some valuable tools to work with. And his presence should bring a shot of energy to the program.
“Not only is he a great coach, but he's a great man,” Fisher said. “It's so important these days to have good, ethical men and women in coaching who can give your kid a moral compass and help them in today's ever-changing society.
“It's valuable to have somebody to lean on and look up to, to make sure they're learning some great life skills, and that's an area where Scott is above reproach.”