Over the next 18 days, the Star will reveal our picks for Tucson’s best high school football coaches. Our countdown continues today with Pat Nugent, who led Canyon del Oro to its first state championship game in 30 years.
No. 18: Pat Nugent
Schools: Canyon del Oro and Flowing Wells
Years in coaching: 1997-2008
Career record: 90-43
Achievements: Through 12 seasons as a coach, Nugent never had a losing record. He went 18-13 in three seasons at Flowing Wells and then a remarkable 72-30 over nine seasons at Canyon del Oro before taking over Pima College’s dwindling program. Nugent is best remembered for his time at CDO that included six trips to the state playoffs and the program’s first appearance in the state finals in three decades. Quick, tough and undersized became the identity for the Dorados as they reached the postseason in each of Nugent’s final five seasons, including twice with the help of former Arizona Wildcats running-back-to-be Ka’Deem Carey. In addition to reaching the 4A-I state championship game in 2007, CDO was in the semifinals a year later and made it to the quarterfinals in 2005. Nugent is also worthy of recognition for leaving his replacement and current coach, Dusty Peace, with a loaded CDO team that reached the state finals twice and won 27 straight games in the two seasons after his departure.
Memorable moments: In the 4A-I state semifinals in 2007, Nugent’s defense blanked No. 7 Peoria in the pouring rain, beating the Panthers 20-0 at Tucson High School to put CDO in the state finals for the first time since 1977. The sixth-seeded Dorados held the Panthers to 144 yards and shut down state champion sprinter and future ASU tailback Jamal Miles, limiting him to 15 yards on 16 rushes. The Dorados had 17 tackles-for-loss and dominated the game in every statistical category, forcing three turnovers and rushing for 195 yards. A week later, CDO led top-seeded Scottsdale Saguaro by one with three minutes to play but lost 23-21 on a field goal in the final seconds.
From the archives: “I’m fortunate to be in the spot that I am. State championships are not won in one year. Everything we’ve developed over the last three years was important. Pat deserves a lot of the credit for getting here.” — Peace in the Dec. 2, 2009, Arizona Daily Star
Big number: 548. CDO scored 548 points in its 2007 campaign behind quarterback Dan Nicholas, who was named the Star’s Player of the Year that fall. While the Dorados averaged 39 points per game, they held teams to 10.7 to outscore opponents by 56 touchdowns and two field goals that season.
Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 17 in Friday’s Star.