Over the next 19 days, the Star will count down our picks for the 25 best football coaches in Southern Arizona history. Our countdown continues today with Lou Farber, who won the city’s first Class AA (now 5A) state title game with Pueblo.
No. 19: Lou Farber
Years in coaching: 1956-1971
Career record: 85-74-4
Achievements: Before starting his first coaching job as an assistant at Barrington (Rhode Island) High School, Farber had already accomplished his fair share on the football field. As the pulling guard on Brown University’s famous “Iron Men” squad, where the starting 11 was on the field for the full 60 minutes against Yale and Dartmouth, Farber and the Bears compiled an undefeated 9-0-1 record. Faber and his wife moved to Tucson for health reasons after 14 seasons as the head coach of East Providence High in Rhode Island. He took the reigns at Pueblo the year it opened in 1956. During his 17 years in charge, the Warriors posted just one losing season, were twice named state champions and fell two scores shy of a third in the 1967 state title game to Ed Doherty and his undefeated Phoenix St. Mary’s team.
Memorable moment: Entering the 1961 season, Farber predicted Pueblo would finish fifth in the AA-4 in the Star’s preseason coaches’ poll. After a 1-2 start and a growing list of injuries, his expectations didn’t seem far off. Yet the Warriors rattled off five straight wins, and despite dropping games to Salpointe Catholic (14-13) and Phoenix South Mountain (39-14), a 20-0 win against Catalina clinched a playoff spot. Following a 19-13 win against Tempe in the semifinals, the Warriors nipped St. Mary’s 16-14 with a 21-yard field goal by Gus Moreno to clinch the city’s first Class AA (now 5A) title game (the AIA did not conduct conference playoffs before 1959). The prolific combination between All-State receiver John Straw and All-State quarterback Richard Martinez sparked Pueblo, also declared co-state champions in 1958 under Farber.
From the archives: “He was kind of like a father figure more than anything else. He was always concerned about his coaches, players and students. He didn’t just focus on the athletes. He was the same with the students in his class. … He always said, ‘You might get beat, but don’t stay down.’ ” — Longtime Pueblo associate coach and Cholla head coach Ed Brown in the Jan. 7, 2002, Arizona Daily Star (Brown died in 2012.)
Big number: 170 Farber tallied a combined 170 wins over his prep coaching career in Tucson and Providence, including five state titles. Farber, who died in 2002 at 94, was also known as a philosophical man and devoted social studies teacher. His former player, Leonard Thompson, became an NFL receiver. Pueblo named its football stadium after Farber in 1989.
Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 18 in Thursday’s Star.