Editor's note: This summer, Star columnist Greg Hansen is counting down the top 10 of just about everything related to Tucson sports.
Today's list: the top 10 sports villains in Tucson history.
In the mid 1990s, the culture of high school football in Arizona changed forever, and with it the destiny of Tucson prep football.
The East Valley schools in the greater Phoenix area – particularly Scottsdale and Mesa – became magnets for top prospects Most notably, Scottsdale Saguaro, Scottsdale Chaparral and Mesa Mountain View became year-round football factories.
They had the resources, bulging enrollment numbers and the welcome mat that even the Arizona Interscholastics Association had difficulty regulating. The key words to become a football power were these: relocation and recruiting.
No one has felt the sting from the growth of suburban Phoenix football more than Tucson.
Over the last 20 years, those East Valley high schools have become a sports villain like few others in Tucson sports history. From 1997-2016, Saguaro, Mountain View and Chaparral are 9-1 in state championship games against Tucson teams. (And that doesn’t include Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep's 2008 state title win over 11-2 Santa Rita.)
In all, Tucson state championship game participants who were 136-7 have gone 1-10 against the East Valley in that stretch. Five of those Tucson teams were undefeated entering the state championship game Here’s what happened:
Amphitheater, 13-0 in 1997, lost to Mountain View.
Sabino, 13-0 in 1997, lost to Mountain View.
Sunnyside, 13-0 in 2000, lost to Chapparal.
Canyon del Oro, 13-0 in 2010, lost to Saguaro.
Cienega, 13-0 in 2011, lost to Chapparal.
"It’s like you’re fighting against a bank with an endless vault," Amphi coach Vern Friedli said in 1997. And wouldn’t he know it? Friedli’s 12-1 Panthers of 1990, lost to Mesa High School, a precursor of an era of high school football that has been dominated by the so-called villains of the East Valley.
Here’s our Top 10 list of sports villains in Tucson: