Over the next 14 days, the Star will reveal our picks for Tucson’s best high school football coaches of all time. Our countdown continues today with Sabino’s Jay Campos, who became the youngest coach to reach 100 wins in Southern Arizona history last fall.
No. 14 Jay Campos
Years in coaching: 2003-present
Career record: 106-26
Achievements: Following the departure of Jeff Scurran in 1999, Sabino struggled to find the right man to take the reins. Doug Holland and Gary Buer proved to be short-term fixes, and the success of the previous decade started to become a fading memory. At least until the Sabercats called upon assistant Jay Campos, who had started with the program as an assistant in 1998 while still attending the UA. Since his hire, Sabino has been the model of consistency in Southern Arizona. The Sabercats have won at least eight games in all 11 seasons under Campos and have never missed the playoffs, advancing out of the first round five times and reaching the state finals in 2005, 2006 and 2009. At age 38, Campos reached the century mark in wins last year by beating Flagstaff, 62-35, coached by his father, Eddie. Jay also beat his father’s Flagstaff Sinagua team 28-13 in September 2003 for just his second win as a head coach.
Memorable moment: In 2005, Sabino went on the road and knocked off undefeated and second-seeded Goodyear Millennium 28-21 in the 4A-I state semifinals to advance to the championship game for the first time since 1998. Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year Glyndon Bolasky carried the offense for the sixth-seeded Sabercats, rushing for 120 yards and three touchdowns against Millennium. Sabino’s dominate defense, anchored by future Arizona Wildcats and Houston Texans linebacker Brooks Reed, did the rest. Sabino’s state-title run came up short a week later as it fell to top-seeded Glendale Cactus at Arizona Stadium. The Sabercats made it back to the championship game the next season but lost Scottsdale Saguaro 41-21. Title-game struggles remain the one black mark on Campos’ résumé, as Sabino has been outscored 111-28 in its three appearances.
From the archives: “Jay, for example, lost his weight program at Sabino this year and a PE class, because of budget cuts. But he knows that to keep on winning, he’s got to maintain a commitment to strength training. So what did he do? He opened the weight room before school and he opens it after school. That means he has to put in even more hours, and he’s willing to do it. The district won’t pay his assistant coaches, so he gets fundraisers to help him gather the money. It never ends.” — Sabino assistant and former Sahuaro coach Howard Breinig, in the Nov. 17, 2011, Arizona Daily Star
Big number: 25. Starting with the 2005 season, the Sabercats have outscored opponents by more than 25 points a game, highlighted by an undefeated regular season in 2012. That season, Sabino won each game by more than seven touchdowns — 49.6 points, on average — before Nogales shocked the Sabercats 36-34 in the first round of the state playoffs. Still, the Sabino offense has been elite under Campos, eclipsing 39 points a game the past five seasons while producing Division I talent like offensive tackle Andrew Mike and tight end Matt Bushman.
Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 13 in Tuesday’s Star.