Over the next eight days, the Star will reveal our picks for Tucson’s best high school football coaches of all time. Our countdown continues today with Wayne Jones, who turned Mountain View’s football team from winless to state champions in just six seasons.
No. 8: Wayne Jones
School: Mountain View
Years in coaching: 1988-2006
Career record: 134-76
Achievements: Although Jones was a newcomer to the local prep scene when he started Mountain View’s program, he was anything but new to the game. Jones, who played his high school ball in Ohio and quarterback at Purdue, coached at the same level in Indiana for eight seasons and led Marion High to a 10-0 season and a mythical state title in 1969. Jones returned to Purdue in 1970, and spent three seasons as an assistant there before taking a job at Cincinnati. After four years with the Bearcats, Jones became an assistant for the UA with Tony Mason, but left coaching altogether two years later, following the 1978 season. But less than a decade later, Jones found himself back on the sidelines. He fielded a JV team when Mountain View opened in 1987. The next year, his first varsity team went 0-10 but his squads slowly started to turn Mountain View into a power. Everything came together in 1993 when the Mountain Lions went 14-0 and captured the 4A state crown behind star running back Kevin Schmidtke, a two-time state player of the year who went on to play for the UA.
Memorable moment: The Mountain Lions topped Sahuaro 63-32 in the state championship game in 1993 at Arizona Stadium to cap off their perfect season, but a comeback win against Sunnyside — their closest game of the regular season — that helped preserve their perfect record is what stands out to Jones the most. Mountain View had won its first five games and was armed with the city’s top-ranked offense.
But it found itself trailing for the first time all season, down 14-9 at the half. The Mountain Lions opened the second half with a scoring drive that lasted 10 minutes, 7 seconds to put them up 17-14. Schmidtke capped off the 20-play drive with a five-yard touchdown run, and fullback Ben Lee was successful on the two-point conversion. Mountain View’s defense held the Blue Devils scoreless the rest of the way, as Sunnyside’s lone scoring opportunity came on a failed 43-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter.
From the archives: “I think Coach utilized players’ strengths really well and just let us play. When you think of Mountain View football, you think of coach Jones. It’s gonna be sad to see him go.” – Schmidtke in the Dec. 14, 2006 Arizona Daily Star
Big number: 13. Jones reached the postseason a total of 13 times in his 19 seasons, but his 1993 squad remains Mountain View’s only team to make it past the state quarterfinals. The Mountain Lions had just three losing seasons under Jones, and reached at least 10 wins four separate times.
Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 7 in Monday’s Star.