Greg Hansen: Mayfield, Scurran starting over again

2013-06-28T00:00:00Z Greg Hansen: Mayfield, Scurran starting over againGreg Hansen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 28, 2013 12:00 am  • 

When they began as high school football coaches a generation or two ago, Todd Mayfield and Jeff Scurran would do the "school's out for summer" routine, run down the front steps and refuel.

Mayfield would enjoy the majesty of the Colorado mountains at his family's summer home. Scurran, who lived near Lake Tahoe and later in Oregon's beautiful Columbia River Gorge, absorbed a month or two of me-time.

But now, in Take Two (or three) of their Hall of Fame coaching careers, Mayfield and Scurran no longer beat the heat. They have worked through May and June. They are all the way back, rookies of a sort, even though they have combined for 354 victories and four state championships in Tucson football.

This is an irresistible midsummer sports story.

"We played in 35 or 40 passing league tournament games this summer," says Scurran, Catalina Foothills' first-year coach. "There's no real down time."

Mayfield opens the weight room at Palo Verde every afternoon. "We've got five coaches in there each day," he says. "I'll get away for a week later in July."

The Mayfield-returns and Scurran-is-back scenarios will be good theater if for no other reason than it's so unexpected. They took their state title trophies and faded into Tucson coaching history three years ago.

In a city of transient prep football coaching, it was sad to see them go. Since both "retired" in late 2009, 14 of Tucson's 23 big-school football teams have changed head coaches.

It's one thing to come back as a 60-something coach at a traditional powerhouse like Salpointe Catholic or Cienega. Instead, Mayfield and Scurran willingly walked into trouble.

Scurran takes over an 0-10 Catalina Foothills team. Mayfield returns to Palo Verde, which went 8-22 in his absence, losing games 69-7, 60-0 and 42-0 in the final month of the '12 season.

"We didn't have a JV team last year," Mayfield says. "And our freshman team scored just one touchdown all season."

But as they move into July, Mayfield and Scurran appear undaunted in a pair of situations that couldn't be more different.

Mayfield has a roster of 20 to 25 players, depending on the day of the week. The Titans' idea of a "big summer event" has been to play Cholla in a passing league tournament.

Scurran has more than 70 players at Foothills. The Falcons have played in San Diego and will stage a training camp in Durango, Colo., next month.

The modest and reserved Mayfield spent the last three years caring for his late father, former Tucson High state championship coach Ollie Mayfield, and helping out as a JV coach at Sabino.

The ever-confident Scurran coached a semipro team in Italy and was head coach of an annual USA all-star high school team that played in Europe.

Both styles work. Scurran is No. 2 in Tucson history with 183 career victories. Mayfield is No. 3, at 171. They have until Aug. 30, opening night, to complete their preparation. Expectations? Yes, people are watching.

"I'm rejuvenated," says Mayfield. "I don't know if the kids have figured this out yet, and some days I go home saying, 'Wow, this is really going to be hard.' But on other days I can see light bulbs going on a little bit. But I've been a coach my entire life. I'll figure it out."

Scurran's reputation as a master builder, taking woebegone Santa Rita to the state finals and creating a program at Pima College that soared into the NJCAA top 10 in his first season, is well chronicled in Tucson.

It doesn't mean he feels any more pressure at Foothills than he did at previous stops. Foothills has won a single playoff game in its 20-year history. Few are expecting less than a deep run into the state tournament sometime soon.

He is asked if the long-struggling Falcons were over-matched during the competitive 40-game summer league.

"We weren't blitzed once all summer," he says. "Not once."

High school football in Tucson desperately needs coaches/teachers like Mayfield and Scurran. Nineteen of the 23 big-schools head coaches have been at their posts for five years or fewer. Catalina's Sam Rolfe, for instance, in his sixth year with the Trojans, is considered a veteran.

Only Salpointe's Dennis Bene and Cienega's Nemer Hassey, both entering their 13th seasons at their respective schools, have more than a decade on the job at one school. Tucson has noticeably struggled to replace the prep legends such as Sunnyside's Richard Sanchez, Mountain View's Wayne Jones and Amphi's Vern Friedli.

"I don't know who four or five of the local head coaches are," says Mayfield. "When we saw Walden Grove (high school) at a passing tournament recently, I had to ask who the head coach was."

Scurran and Mayfield don't need an introduction. But perhaps they do need time to get rolling again.

"I don't want to hear what (Foothills) did in the past; this is new," says Scurran. "I'm not the same coach I was at Sabino or at Santa Rita or at Pima. I've changed. I should be better now. I'd like to think we can adapt and overcome."

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