Over the next 15 days, the Star will reveal its picks for Tucson’s best high school football coaches of all time. Our countdown continues today with Jason “Red” Greer, who led Tucson High to 19 straight wins and two state titles.
No. 15: Jason “Red” Greer
School: Tucson High
Years in coaching: 1948-55
Career record: 48-29-1
Achievements: After transferring to the UA from Arkansas A&M during his sophomore year to care for his ailing mother in Tucson, “Red” Greer developed into one of the “toughest defensive ends ever to play” for the Wildcats, according to a 1956 Arizona Daily Star article. Greer received All-Border Conference first-team honors all three years he played at the UA, before he earned his master’s degree in 1941. Greer bounced around coaching in Marianna, Arkansas, and then Prescott before landing a spot as an assistant at Tucson High under Rollin T. Gridley. The Badgers lost only three games in each of Greer’s first three years in charge before he finally reached the glory of his predecessor. Tucson won back-to-back state championships, including the fourth perfect season in city history in 1952. Greer left his head coaching post in 1955 to become the Badgers’ first athletic director, where he stayed for 15 years. He died in 1982 at age 72.
Memorable moment: With around 5,000 eagerly watching at Mesa High School on Oct. 24, 1952, the 5-0 Badgers faced another undefeated side in the Jackrabbits.
A sneak from All-State quarterback Pat Flood put Tucson up early, and a little bit of trickery from All-American Joel Favara on a fake punt set up another Flood short-yardage touchdown scramble, handing the Badgers a 21-7 advantage at half. The Jackrabbits wouldn’t go away, though, and a flea-flicker put the hosts down a score late in the fourth quarter. Tucson held on, grinding out the clock to escape Mesa with the narrow 28-21 victory and its perfect record intact. Little did Greer and company know that the late-October victory would prove to be their toughest test: The Badgers rolled past Phoenix Union 41-7, won the next two by an identical 27-6 margin and then confidently shut down Amphitheater in the season finale to secure a perfect season and a second-straight state championship.
From the archives: “I don’t know if you measure the win-loss record of a coach to determine how good a coach he is, but he was very good. I always had a great deal of respect for Mr. Greer, and most of the ball players did. He had that Arkansas way. He was basically a pretty honest person and down to earth. I’ve never heard Mr. Greer say a swear word.” – Favara, in the June 8, 1975, Arizona Daily Star
Big number: 19. While Greer’s mark of 19 straight wins spanning 1951 through 1953 doesn’t approach the streak of 32 he was a part of as an assistant coach at Tucson in the mid-1940s, it still ranks at the sixth-best run in Southern Arizona history. The Badgers’ success took a dramatic downward turn over his final two seasons in charge, as they stumbled to a combined 3-15 record. It isn’t a coincidence, though, that those seasons came as the student body was split to form Pueblo and Catalina high schools.
Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 14 in Monday’s Star.