Over the next 20 days, the Star will reveal our picks for Tucson’s best high school football coaches of all time. Our countdown continues today with Don Hawkins, who led Marana to back-to-back state titles.

No. 20: Don Hawkins

School: Marana

Years in coaching: 1965-1970

Career record: 47-17-1

Achievements: Hawkins’ time at Marana was short, but the success he and the Tigers saw in the six-year span was nearly unheard of.

During the 1960s, Hawkins and his predecessor Duane Morrison, who was an equally talented coach in his own right, led Marana to the most successful decade in state history at the time, and it still stands as one of the best in Arizona.

For context, the 1967 and 1968 Tigers were nearly perfect, with the lone blemish a 13-13 tie to Winkelman Hayden. In all, the Tigers won four state titles in the decade — two under Hawkins, who died in 2003, and two with Morrison. 

Memorable moment: Marana was so dominant in 1968, following a 10-0-1 state title season the year before, that its 21-6 victory over Springerville Round Valley was billed as “something of an anticlimax” in the Star’s game recap. There was some merit to the claim, too, as Marana trounced Sahuarita 89-0 in the season finale and then breezed by Page 62-2 in the semifinal.

The title game actually represented Marana’s lowest scoring output all season, yet the result was never really in doubt for one of Southern Arizona’s least heralded teams.

All-State running back Cleveland Colter accounted for all 21 points, scoring three times in addition to converting the points after, to finalize another undefeated season (11-0) for the Tigers.

From the archives: “We had 99 people in my graduating class, 1966. We were from mining families and agricultural families. Nobody had any money, and a lot of us didn’t have running water in our homes then, in the ’60s. Most of the athletes at the school were black; the coaches were mostly Mormons. That was a pretty unusual coupling. But the coaches — Don Hawkins, Norm Patton, Duane Morrison, Art Carroll — treated us like sons. They never showed any prejudice. I can’t tell you how much respect we gained for them, and, in return, the respect they showed us. When my mother and my father died, my high school coaches were there to support me.” – Sonny Campbell, former Marana and Atlanta Falcons running back, in Dec. 7, 2006, Arizona Daily Star.

Big number: 596. Marana scored 596 points in 1968, a state record at the time. The defense wasn’t slacking either, as the Round Valley touchdown represented only the third time the Tigers allowed a team to cross the goal line all season. Entering the state final, Marana was allowing fewer than two points a game.

Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 19 in Wednesday’s Star.

Kyle Johnson

Kyle Johnson