HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Greg Hansen: Time to letter rip

A-to-Z list helps you get prep-ared for start of season
2010-08-26T00:00:00Z 2010-08-26T00:10:00Z Greg Hansen: Time to letter ripGreg Hansen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 26, 2010 12:00 am  • 

For the first time since 1961, there won't be a Mayfield coaching high school football in Tucson. How long is that? That's 273 victories and three state titles.

Todd Mayfield retired last spring after coaching Palo Verde to 10 playoff appearances in 12 seasons. His father, Ollie Mayfield, who coached Tucson High to state titles in 1970 and 1971, had been a regular on the Titans sidelines.

"I'll miss the kids, I'll miss the people and the staff, and I'll also miss those great Thursday and Friday nights when my wife and daughter were running the snack bar," Todd Mayfield said.

And there it is, the definition of high school football: kids, family, the community and a snack bar. As the season begins tonight with Sahuaro at Sabino, here's one man's look at Tucson prep football, 2010, from A to Z:

A is for Amphitheater, which is a synonym for Vern Friedli, who enters his 35th season as the Panthers' coach. A is also for all-in-the-family. Four of Friedli's coaches played for him there: Mike Graves, Daniel Hardy, David Veramontes and Sergio Canez.

B is for Mark Brunenkant, head coach at Flowing Wells. When he assembled his coaching staff, Mark wasn't cowed by the idea of becoming his boss's boss. That's right, FWHS principal Jim Brunenkant is a Caballeros assistant coach, punching in after his day job, working for his brother Mark.

C is for Cienega, 11-2 last season, which will get a chance to make up for one of those 2009 losses, an aching 33-32 setback to Cave Creek Cactus Shadows. The two meet Sept. 3 up north in what looks to be the Bobcats' most difficult game of the year. Do you think CSHS will remember elusive Cienega tailback Willie Willis? He ran for 277 yards on Cactus Shadows last season.

D is for daring. That would be Sahuaro coach Scott McKee, whose career record at Pueblo and Sahuaro is, gulp, 16-45. To his credit, McKee took on an enormous rebuilding job at Pueblo and then took another one at Sahuaro, which had gone 30-52 in eight previous seasons.

E is for Rolly Escarcega, who made 118 tackles (including 15 against state champ CDO) and started at tight end for Scott Cortese's Catalina Foothills Falcons last year. This year, Escarcega's goal is to help the Falcons advance to the playoffs for only the fifth time in school history.

F is for Fearsome Fivesome. CDO's starting offensive line of Joey Banks, Mikel Kanoza, Jesse Caldwell, Carson Martin and David Catalano, the best of its kind in Southern Arizona, is working on a 14-game winning streak.

G is for Games For the Greater Good. For the second year, Salpointe Catholic will use its football season as a community awareness project for the Lancers. Dennis Bene's team has a theme for four home games, honoring Special Olympics, the Boys and Girls Club and will stage Teacher Appreciation Night and a Military Appreciation Night.

H is for history: forget it. Catalina did not go to the playoffs from 1955 to 2008. Last year, coach Sam Rolfe squeezed the Trojans into the postseason in his second attempt. And how about this story: the Trojans could win the Gila Region this year behind QB Darian McIver and stout linemen Andres Carino and Hilario Rojas.

I is for indispensable. CDO offensive line coach Tommy Steele is beginning his 28th season as a Dorado assistant coach. He was the interim head coach in 1989, but otherwise has coached for five head coaches. "Tommy's the best," said Pat Nugent, former CDO head coach. "He gets the most out of his guys."

J is for Matt Johnson, beginning his second season as Ironwood Ridge's head coach. Asked his career record - he was Rincon/University's coach for four seasons - Johnson says "I don't keep track of that stuff." Hint: He's 28-26 and just hitting his stride.

K is for King of the Road. That would be Empire coach Jorge Mendivil. After coaching the Ravens to a 10-2 record in only their fourth year of varsity competition, the former Benson High player and San Manuel High coach knows how it goes for a (Class 3A) smaller school. You hit the road. His team plays at Alchesay near Pinetop, and goes to Rio Rico, Safford, Eloy Santa Cruz and Florence.

L is for limited class. Sunnyside High coach Richard Sanchez has stepped into a select group, coaching the Blue Devils for his 18th season. In the history of Tucson prep football, only Amphi's Friedli, 35 seasons, and retired Mountain View coach Wayne Jones, 19 seasons, have coached longer at one school.

M is for memorial. CDO coach Dusty Peace has placed the initials "JZ" and "RD" on the Dorados' helmets this year to remember two fallen Dorado football players. Ravi DeFilippo, Class of 2005, died this year in a mining accident in Peru. Joshua Zwick, Class of 2003, died last fall.

N is for Olympic silver medalist Lacey Nymeyer, whose father, Aaron Nymeyer is an assistant coach on the new staff of Justin Argraves at Mountain View. Aaron played on a CDO state title team in the late 1970s. Argraves, who played at Santa Rita, was the defensive coordinator at Goodyear Millennium last year. His marquee star was defensive back Marquis Flowers, the UA's top freshman recruit.

O is for overdue. After an all-Phoenix TV schedule a year ago, Cox Cable will broadcast four games involving Tucson teams this year, opening with the Phoenix North Canyon at Sunnyside game Friday. What a great concept. The other games: CDO at Scottsdale Saguaro on Oct. 1, Mountain View at Salpointe on Oct. 22 and CDO at Sabino on Nov. 5. Former UA All-Pac-10 special teams player Armon Williams is Cox's on-the-field broadcaster.

P is for Salpointe sophomore running back Johnny Peña, who gained 810 yards as a freshman even though he played just eight games. How good is that? CDO's heralded Ka'Deem Carey gained 311 yards as a freshman.

Q is for quietly making an impact. Tucson High's trio of QB Shakir Smith, tailback D'Andre Williams and receiver Sean Ochiaga combined for 1,115 rushing yards and 528 passing yards last year. They were just learning. Now they're ready to roll.

R is for Ed Roman, trusty Amphi assistant coach since 1977, a defensive coordinator who has been a Panthers coach long enough to help Vern Friedli to 26 state tournament appearances. The son of a smelter worker from Morenci, Roman has coached two state championship teams.

S is for support. Sunnyside probably has the best community backing in Southern Arizona; it routinely draws 2,500 fans or more, making a Friday night football game an event. The home-cooked Mexican food there is legendary. A few weeks ago, in a down economy, the Blue Devils drew 124 golfers (at $125 per person) at a football fundraising event.

T is for togetherness. Sabino coach Jay Campos is the son of former Flagstaff head coach Eddie Campos, who remains on the Flagstaff staff in an advisory capacity this year. But on Friday nights, father Eddie will be on the sidelines with son Jay and the Sabercats. Does it work? Jay Campos is a sizzling 68-18, with three state title game appearances, at Sabino.

U is for unwanted 0-win seasons. Since Desert View opened in 1985, the Jaguars have had a Tucson-leading four winless seasons (1985, 1997, 2002 and 2004). Cholla also has had four 0-win seasons in that stretch. But DVHS coach Jim Monaco looks to be changing all that. The Jaguars opened 4-0 last year, outscoring opponents 140-14 to finish at .500.

V is for volunteer. Sharon Friedli, wife of Amphi coach Vern Friedli, rolls up her sleeves and becomes much more than a nervous-wife-in-the-bleachers. She gets the Amphi snack bar up and running, is the editor/publisher of the Amphi game program and also organizes and operates the Panthers' annual September fundraising alumni weekend and golf tournament. "I'd much rather get involved and know the kids than live a separate life," she says.

W is for Matt Willard, first-year coach at Palo Verde. He learned the ropes from Pima's Pat Nugent, first as a Flowing Wells player, then as a PCC assistant coach. Willard gets no break-in time. He has a tough act to follow: the Titans have gone to the playoffs 10 times in 12 seasons and were 46-15 with a state title dating to 2005.

X is for X-factor. Marana senior Louis Payne is a throwback, a two-way player who rarely comes off the field. He rushed for 253 yards a year ago, also played on the offensive line and is the Tigers' top defensive threat as coach Anthony Coronado attempts to produce the school's third winning record since 2002.

Y is for Year of the Unbeaten. State champion CDO finished 14-0 last year and now is in position to move into rarified air. Since 1950, the longest winning streak by a Tucson football team is 25, set by Sunnyside, 2001-02 (the Blue Devils also had a 23-game streak in 2003-04). If the Dorados run the table, 14-0, they'll trail only the 1942-46 Tucson High Badgers, who won 32 consecutive games.

Z is for Ralph Zarate, assistant coach at Catalina. Zarate might be the only former Parade All-America football player ever to coach in Tucson. He was a 1997 high school All-America lineman at Tucson High.

 

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