Over the next three days, the Star will reveal our picks for Tucson’s best high school football coaches of all time. Our countdown continues today with Ollie Mayfield, who may have coached Southern Arizona’s best season of all time in 1970.
No. 3 Ollie Mayfield
Schools: Sabino and Tucson
Years in coaching: 1967-79
Local record: 103-35-1
Achievements: In 13 seasons coaching locally, Mayfield never saw one of his teams finish with a losing record. Tucson High averaged close to eight wins a year in 10 seasons and won back-to-back state championships in 1970 and 1971 with Mayfield before he took over a winless Sabino team and took it to the state playoffs three straight years.
The Sabercats were on a 21-game losing streak upon his arrival in 1977. After losing the season opener to Cholla that year, Mayfield’s team rattled off five straight wins on its way to qualifying for the postseason for the first time in program history. Sabino lost to Amphitheater in the first round that season but advanced to the state quarterfinals each of the next two years.
Mayfield went 21-11 in his three seasons with the Sabercats and wasn’t held in such high regard just because of what he did with the X’s and O’s, but he was so revered because of the way he treated his players, students and people in general. More than three decades after leading Tucson to its second straight title in 1971, Mayfield got to experience the glory of another championship in 2005 when he served as an assistant coach at Palo Verde alongside his son, Todd.
Memorable moment: Mayfield’s undefeated Badgers dominated Phoenix Sunnyslope on their way to a 54-16 win in the 1970 state championship game to cap a 12-0 season regarded by many as the best in Southern Arizona history. Tucson scored 28 points in the second quarter and held a 34-0 lead before the Vikings got on the board. Mark Simon led the way with 140 yards rushing including scoring runs of 29 and 82 yards as the Badgers’ trio of running backs combined for 328 yards and six touchdowns. Barry Sollenberger, a historian for high school sports in Arizona, went even further and once said Mayfield’s team that year may have been the best Arizona had ever seen. Tucson High averaged 39.6 points per game, was ranked third in the nation by National Sports News Service and had 14 players earn college scholarships.
From the archives: “I’ve always thought at the high school level that the kid who is mentally prepared can do just about anything. If you build up his confidence and don’t knock him down, he’ll do a good job. I know some people will say I’m out of my head or behind the times, but I think the kids today are no different from the kids when I first started coaching. They want to get some discipline. If you get the kid to believe in himself, he’ll come out all right. I’ve been fortunate to have a great bunch of kids over the years, and to work with quite a few good coaches. No matter where I’ve been, I’ve always been blessed with good kids, and it’s made coaching a great experience.” — Ollie Mayfield in the April, 10, 1980, Tucson Citizen
Big number: 4,280. With the help of a line anchored by Parade All-Americans Mike Dawson and Marvin Lewis, the Badgers rushed for a state-record 4,280 yards as a team in 1970. Tucson averaged 357 rushing yards per game and had three backs — Allistaire Heartfield, Derral Davis and Simon — each surpass 1,000 yards on the ground. Heartfield led the way with 1,396 yards and scored a school-record 21 touchdowns while Simon and Davis registered 1,148 and 1,063 yards each. Although Tucson was a run-oriented team, quarterback Anastacio Martinez still threw 14 touchdowns in 12 games.
Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 2 in Saturday’s Star.