Slideshow: Tucson's Top 25 high school football coaches

August 03, 2014 8:30 am  • 

Recap of the Star's countdown of Tucson's top 25 high school football coaches of all time that concludes on Sunday, Aug. 3.

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  • No. 25: Gary Minor

    School: Ironwood Ridge

    Years in coaching: 2002-2008

    Local record: 60-27

    Achievements: After going 57-4-1 as a JV coach at Canyon del Oro, Minor needed just one season to turn the Ironwood Ridge football team into a perennial playoff contender. The Nighthawks missed the state playoffs in their inaugural season in 2002 but qualified each of the next six years.

    I-Ridge had at least eight wins in five of Minor’s seven years with the team. Since leaving the Nighthawks after the 2008 season, Minor has been an assistant at Catalina Foothills and Marana.

    Memorable moment: In his final season at I-Ridge, Minor coached the Nighthawks to their best season to that point with a 10-3 record and a trip to the 5A-II state semifinals. Before losing to eventual champion Peoria Centennial there, No. 4 I-Ridge had one of its biggest wins in school history when it knocked off area power Sunnyside 24-17 in the state quarterfinals. Former UA linebacker Jake Fischer rushed for 228 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries in the win and is widely considered the best player to come out of I-Ridge.

    From the archives: “I look forward to building a strong, winning tradition. It’s definitely exciting to start out with a school that has this potential.” — Minor in the May 31, 2001, Arizona Daily Star.

    Big number: 6. Once I-Ridge was established as a varsity program, with regional opponents, Minor was dominant in league play.

    The Nighthawks lost just six games through six seasons while winning 24 against their opponents in 4A Sonoran, 4A-I Sonoran and 5A-II Southern region play.

    Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 24 in Friday’s Star.

  • No. 24: Ed Brown

    School: Cholla

    Years in coaching: 1968-1987

    Local record: 91-98-2

    Achievements: After 11 seasons as an associate coach under Lou Farber at Pueblo, Brown got his shot as a head coach at the brand-new Cholla High School in 1968. Success didn’t come quickly with the new program, but Brown — a former Marine — instilled character and work ethic in his players. If someone didn’t show up for practice, he would drive around town that night to check up on them. Brown was also remembered for his honest approach to the game, which was illustrated in the 1978 season with TUSD caught in a teachers’ strike. With Tucson High’s coaching staff on strike and its team unable to compete, Cholla could have picked up an easy win. Instead, Brown instructed his players not to practice Thursday, causing the game to be declared a “no contest.”

    Brown left his military service to enroll at the UA in 1954, where he earned a spot on the varsity team as a freshman. As an ironman he played wherever the team needed him and became an All-Border Conference guard for three seasons but also played linebacker.

    Brown turned down a chance to play professional football after being drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1958. He also declined a chance to become the UA track coach so he could coach football.

    Memorable moment: In 1980, for the first time in school history, Cholla made the state playoffs when the Chargers finished 8-3 with future Denver Bronco Vance Johnson leading the way. Brown was named The Star’s Coach of the Year after that season and coached Cholla to the playoffs three more times. In 1987, Brown’s last season, Cholla beat Flagstaff 58-6 for the first playoff win in program history before being eliminated in the state quarterfinals against Glendale Cactus, the eventual runner-up.

    From the archives: “That man means so much to me; he is like a father. If it weren’t for Ed Brown, I wouldn’t be here today getting ready to play in my second Super Bowl. There is no way I would be here without his help and guidance. He is one of the greatest high school coaches this country has ever had. I was sorry to hear that he had decided to retire.” — Johnson in the Jan. 29, 1988, Tucson Citizen

    Big number: 1. Not only was Brown the first coach in Cholla’s history, but he was the first black coach in Tucson.

    Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 23 in Saturday’s Star.

  • No. 23 Paul Petty

    School: Sunnyside

    Years in coaching: 1972-1981

    Local record: 70-36-1

    Achievements: After just one season at Sunnyside, Petty led the Blue Devils to their first winning record since 1966 going 5-4-1 in 1973. That started a trend as Sunnyside finished at .500 or better each season and made the state playoffs four times before Petty left the school after the 1981 season. Petty was named the Star’s Coach of the Year in 1974 after going 7-4 to give Sunnyside its first league title and second straight winning season, something that was a rare feat at that time. Petty, a Texas native, was a big proponent of the wing-T formation, for its flexibility and balanced attack. He was also well remembered for coaching running back Fred Sims, a Parade All-American who played at Oklahoma, and future Arizona Wildcats stars such as David Adams, Jerry Beasley, Harry Holt and Jon Horton.

    Memorable moment: Petty’s best season came in 1980 when the Blue Devils went 12-1 and reached the state semifinals. Sims surpassed 2,000 yards rushing to break the city rushing record and scored 33 touchdowns as Petty’s prolific offense tied the single-season scoring mark with 596 points. Sunnyside scored at least 34 points in all but one regular-season game, shut out four teams and held every team under three touchdowns in the regular season that fall as it won by scores including 82-6, 65-0 and 61-0. The Blue Devils beat Phoenix Camelback 42-28 in the second round of the playoffs but were upset by Tempe McClintock 38-14 in the semifinals.

    From the archives: “I would say that Sunnyside is 30 or 40 points better than most teams in town. But I couldn’t tell you if they ran the score up or not. You’d have to ask Paul Petty. I think Paul is a gentleman.” — Former Santa Rita coach Larry Williams in the Nov. 13, 1980, Arizona Daily Star.

    Big number: 24. Before his time at Sunnyside, Petty spent 10 seasons at Miami High School and won 24 straight games from 1954 to 1956. The Vandals went 10-0 in 1955 to win the Class A state title and were 9-1 four years later to finish as the runner-up. After leaving Sunnyside, Petty finished his 44-year coaching career in Globe.

    Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 22 in Sunday’s Star.

  • No. 22: Jerry Loper

    School: Amphitheater

    Years in coaching: 1971-75

    Local record: 39-12-2

    Achievements: Although his time at Amphi was brief, Loper’s impact on the football program was significant. He secured the school’s first state title in 1975 when the Panthers knocked off undefeated Phoenix Maryvale 23-22 in the 3A state final to finish the season 12-1. Loper, who also won a state title as a player with Bisbee in 1956, was named the Star’s Coach of the Year after winning the title and was hired to coach at Mesa Westwood months later.

    Memorable moment: Trailing Maryvale 22-8 at halftime in the championship game at Arizona Stadium, the Panthers finally got going when Randy Barkley took a pitch from quarterback Jim Krohn for a 17-yard touchdown to make it 22-16 after the two-point conversion. Defensively, Amphi dug in late — as it had all season — and stopped Maryvale on fourth-and-one deep in Panthers territory, just as it stuffed Phoenix St. Mary’s at the goal line in the final seconds of the semifinals a week earlier. With two minutes to go, Amphi drove 80 yards and capped the drive with a game-tying 2-yard touchdown trudge by Barkley with just seconds remaining. Then, kicker Herman Gutierrez nailed the extra point to secure the historic victory.

    From the archives: “I’ve worked with a lot of football coaches, but I don’t think I’ve worked with anyone I’ve had more respect for. I know how hard I worked as a head coach, and I worked hard, and I know how hard other coaches work, but I don’t believe anyone could work any harder than Jerry.” — Former Amphi and UA assistant coach Jake Rowden in the Oct. 16, 1996, Arizona Daily Star

    Big Number: 224. Loper didn’t ride off into the sunset after he left Amphi. Instead, he continued to find success at Westwood and finished with 224 career wins to go along with 106 losses and 10 ties. Loper also led the Warriors to the 5A state title and a 13-1 record in 1988 and was coaching at Chandler High before he was killed by a drunk driver in 1996.

    Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 21 in Monday’s Star.

  • No. 21: Pat Welchert

    School: Salpointe Catholic

    Years in coaching: 1986-2000

    Local record: 89-71-1

    Achievements: Welchert’s 15 years at Salpointe showed the Lancers something they’d never seen: coaching longevity. Prior to his run, none of the previous 11 coaches spent more than eight years with the team, and just Ed Doherty and Gene McCarter were with the Lancers for more than four seasons. While the stability was one thing, Welchert also guided Salpointe to success it hadn’t seen in its long history. He was the only coach to reach the semifinals or further twice until last fall, when the Lancers captured the Division II state title under Dennis Bene. That was the first time Salpointe was in the state finals since 1991, when Welchert’s squad got out to a 1-2-1 start but finished 10-3-1 and was the Class 5A runner-up behind a potent rushing attack anchored by running back Chris Hopkins. Doherty, who coached the Lancers from 1977-82, was the only other coach to reach the state finals in the program’s history. Welchert almost made it back to the championship game in 2000, but sixth-seeded Mesa Westwood overcame a 14-0 deficit late to beat the Lancers 21-20 in the semifinals. Three months after the season ended, Welchert, who graduated from Salpointe in 1978, stepped down to pursue a business career and recommended Bene as his replacement.

    Memorable moment: Welchert’s final win with the Lancers was surely one to remember and one of the biggest in the program’s history. His 10th-seeded squad held No. 2 Chandler Hamilton scoreless for three quarters and beat the Huskies 24-6 in the 5A state quarterfinals in 2000. Quarterback-turned-defensive back Ben Provost, who was inserted because of injuries, dominated the first quarter on both sides of the ball for the Lancers. He swung the momentum in Salpointe’s favor early when he returned his first of two interceptions in the opening period for a 45-yard touchdown. Then Provost hit Scott Willmeng with a 15-yard scoring pass to make it 14-0. Salpointe led 17-0 at the half and forced four turnovers in the game, while allowing the Huskies past midfield just once all night.

    From the archives: “I really looked up to him. He is one of those guys when he talks, everybody listens.

    He’s taught me a lot. I started out undisciplined and he got me in the groove of things. It seems weird that he won’t be coaching anymore.” – Former Salpointe and UA kicker Ryan Slack in the Feb. 9, 2001, Arizona Daily Star

    Big number: 4,103. Welchert’s rushing attack in 1991 totaled a school-record 4,103 yards. The only team that came close to the mark was in 2012, when the Lancers rushed for 3,390 yards. Hopkins, who went on to play at Arizona State, accounted for 2,107 yards in 1991 and still holds the individual single-season record. His 31 touchdowns that season were also a program best until last fall, when Cameron Denson scored 32.

    Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 20 in Tuesday’s Star.

    Jason Harris

    Jason Harris

  • No. 20: Don Hawkins

    School: Marana

    Years in coaching: 1965-1970

    Local 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

  • No. 19: Lou Farber

    School: Pueblo

    Years in coaching: 1956-1971

    Local record: 85-74-4

    Achievements: Before starting his first coaching job as an assistant at Barrington (Rhode Island) High School, Farber had already accomplished his fair share on the football field. As the pulling guard on Brown University’s famous “Iron Men” squad, where the starting 11 was on the field for the full 60 minutes against Yale and Dartmouth, Farber and the Bears compiled an undefeated 9-0-1 record. Faber and his wife moved to Tucson for health reasons after 14 seasons as the head coach of East Providence High in Rhode Island. He took the reigns at Pueblo the year it opened in 1956. During his 17 years in charge, the Warriors posted just one losing season, were twice named state champions and fell two scores shy of a third in the 1967 state title game to Ed Doherty and his undefeated Phoenix St. Mary’s team.

    Memorable moment: Entering the 1961 season, Farber predicted Pueblo would finish fifth in the AA-4 in the Star’s preseason coaches’ poll. After a 1-2 start and a growing list of injuries, his expectations didn’t seem far off. Yet the Warriors rattled off five straight wins, and despite dropping games to Salpointe Catholic (14-13) and Phoenix South Mountain (39-14), a 20-0 win against Catalina clinched a playoff spot. Following a 19-13 win against Tempe in the semifinals, the Warriors nipped St. Mary’s 16-14 with a 21-yard field goal by Gus Moreno to clinch the city’s first Class AA (now 5A) title game (the AIA did not conduct conference playoffs before 1959). The prolific combination between All-State receiver John Straw and All-State quarterback Richard Martinez sparked Pueblo, also declared co-state champions in 1958 under Farber.

    From the archives: “He was kind of like a father figure more than anything else. He was always concerned about his coaches, players and students. He didn’t just focus on the athletes. He was the same with the students in his class. … He always said, ‘You might get beat, but don’t stay down.’ ” — Longtime Pueblo associate coach and Cholla head coach Ed Brown in the Jan. 7, 2002, Arizona Daily Star (Brown died in 2012.)

    Big number: 170 Farber tallied a combined 170 wins over his prep coaching career in Tucson and Providence, including five state titles. Farber, who died in 2002 at 94, was also known as a philosophical man and devoted social studies teacher. His former player, Leonard Thompson, became an NFL receiver. Pueblo named its football stadium after Farber in 1989.

    Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 18 in Thursday’s Star.

    -Kyle Johnson

  • No. 18: Pat Nugent

    Schools: Canyon del Oro and Flowing Wells

    Years in coaching: 1997-2008

    Local 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.

  • No. 17: Ed Doherty

    School: Salpointe Catholic

    Years in coaching: 1977-82

    Local record: 46-19-3

    Achievements: Doherty’s accomplishments in Southern Arizona only tell a small part of his overall impact on the sport. Doherty played quarterback at Boston College in the Orange Bowl, coached as an assistant for the Philadelphia Eagles and remains the only man to lead both the UA and ASU football teams. He also worked alongside NFL legend Vince Lombardi at a New Jersey high school after World War II. Yet Doherty’s distaste for recruiting led him back to the prep level, where success rarely eluded him. At Phoenix St. Mary’s, he reached three straight state championship games (1967-1969), winning two of them. He also reached a championship game with Salpointe in 1981, but Phoenix Trevor Brown shut out the Lancers 20-0. During his 12 years coaching prep football in Arizona, he reached the playoffs nine times and complied 99 wins with just 33 losses.

    Memorable moment: Nine seasons after finally hanging up the whistle, Doherty’s place in high school football lore received its final chapter when Salpointe dedicated its football field in his name. At halftime of a 1991 matchup between the Lancers and visiting Phoenix St. Mary’s, Doherty was honored by the two schools he had done so much for – and that had meant so much to him. The years coaching prep football in Arizona “were the best years I ever had coaching, both in wins and losses and in fun,” Doherty told the Star two weeks before the naming ceremony. St. Mary’s, then coached by one of Doherty’s former players Pat Farrell, ended up beating Salpointe and another former player, Pat Welchert, 24-12.

    From the archives: “I think he’s the greatest innovator and strategist I’ve ever played for, and I’ve played for George Halas and a number of guys in the CFL.” — Wilford “Whizzer” White, ASU Hall of Fame running back, in the August 25, 1991, Arizona Daily Star

    Big number: 4. Doherty led Salpointe to the playoffs four times during his six seasons in charge. A 66.7 percentage doesn’t seem all that impressive in light of Salpointe’s recent success, but before Doherty arrived in 1977 Salpointe had reached the playoffs just once in the 18 years since they had been introduced. While others certainly helped the football program reach its sustained level of success, Doherty’s time as coach and then athletic director helped move the ball forward — one final innovation for a man defined by them.

    Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 16 in Saturday’s Star.

  • No. 16: Bob Smith

    School: Canyon del Oro

    Years in coaching: 1976-1983

    Local record: 55-28-2

    Achievements: When Smith transitioned from defensive coordinator to head coach in 1976 — the first head coaching job for the former NAU linebacker and Lumberjack captain — he brought with him a new offensive philosophy and three goals for his first season in charge. He implemented the wishbone offense to parallel the power mentality he had already installed in the defense; he told the Tucson Citizen before the season he wanted to take down Amphitheater for the first time and beat another local power, Flowing Wells; and win the school’s first state title. His plan was prophetic: In his rookie campaign, Smith led the Dorados past Amphi 27-20, shut out the defending state champion Caballeros 21-0 in the regular season finale and completed a perfect season with a state title victory. A year later, CDO finished 9-1-1 and repeated as champion. Smith, a defensive guru, told reporters that some of his early success came from his dedication to the team, as he was not married and could “spend a lot of time on football.” However, his commitment was never on a career in football; Smith resigned in 1983 to pursue an advanced degree at the UA and a career in education before eventually becoming superintendent of Amphitheater Public Schools in 1996.

    Memorable moment: CDO jumped out to an early 17-0 lead against Douglas in the 1976 AA state championship game, only to allow the Bulldogs to claw back into it. The Dorados offense racked up 221 yards on the ground, with the majority coming from halfback Greg Connor. It was Smith’s defense, though, that helped the Dorados win their first state title. CDO stopped Douglas on fourth down at the 32-yard line in the final minutes to secure a 24-15 victory at Sunnyside High School.

    From the archives: “CDO’s strongest point is its defense. I think they have the finest defense in the state in Class AA play.” — Flagstaff Coconino coach Bill Epperson, in the Nov. 17, 1978, Tucson Citizen

    Big number: 20. The Dorados won 20 of 22 games during Smith’s first two years in charge, allowing less than a touchdown a game on average.

    In addition to a tie, CDO’s only loss came in Week 2 in the 1977 season at Amphitheater, 27-0, before it went on to win its final nine games including a 9-7 win over Gilbert in the state final. The Dorados never reached the same level of success after the back-to-back championships, but did make the playoffs three more times under Smith.

    Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 15 in Sunday’s Star.

  • No. 15: Jason “Red” Greer

    School: Tucson High

    Years in coaching: 1948-55

    Local 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.

  • No. 14 Jay Campos

    School: Sabino

    Years in coaching: 2003-present

    Local 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.

  • No. 13 Matt Johnson

    Schools: Ironwood Ridge, Catalina Foothills and Rincon/University

    Years in coaching: 2003-06 and 2008-present

    Local record: 72-44

    Achievements: After spending four seasons as a head coach at Rincon/University and one at Catalina Foothills, Johnson took over at Ironwood Ridge and had immediate success. Gary Minor had led the Nighthawks to six straight postseason appearances and a trip to the state semifinals, leaving Johnson with some big shoes to fill. Johnson, an Amphitheater graduate who played under Vern Friedli, didn’t shy away from the task: He has amassed a 44-18 record at I-Ridge. In 2012, his fourth year with the program, Johnson helped the Nighthawks win their first state title and was named the Arizona Daily Star’s Coach of the Year.

    Memorable moment: I-Ridge rattled off 27 straight points – including 20 in the second half – to top heavily-favored Peoria Centennial in the Division II state championship game 27-3 at Sun Devil Stadium in 2012, capturing its first state title to finish off a stellar 13-1 season. Senior linebacker Scott Simmons led the Nighthawks’ stingy defense and returned an interception for an 11-yard touchdown in the second half while Anthony Braunreiter rushed for 86 yards and two touchdowns, including a 36-yard score in the fourth quarter to put the exclamation point on the win.

    However, it wasn’t until the closing seconds of the game, as senior quarterback Tyler Williams downed the ball for the final time and jogged toward the sideline, that Johnson realized what he and his team had just accomplished. The win marked the second time that season I-Ridge beat Centennial and was the first time since 2003 a Southern Arizona team beat a Phoenix-area school to win a state crown.

    From the archives: “I truly believe we win six or seven games before we even take the field because the coaches work so hard. The team is a direct reflection of Matt, his work ethic and attitude. He is fearless and driven.” – Longtime assistant coach Kent Middleton in the Nov. 17, 2012 Arizona Daily Star

    Big number: 3. Although all his postseason wins have come at I-Ridge, Johnson has led all three programs he’s coached to the state playoffs for a total of eight appearances. The Nighthawks have qualified in each of the last five seasons under Johnson, who also led Foothills to the postseason in 2008, his only season with the team. Prior to that, Johnson guided Rincon to the playoffs in 2005 and 2006 after it hadn’t qualified since 1989.

    Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 12 in Wednesday’s Star.

  • No. 12 Todd Mayfield

    Schools: Palo Verde and Tucson High

    Years in coaching: 1982-2009 and 2013

    Local record: 178-129-3

    Achievements: Prior to a 12-year run at Palo Verde that included winning a state title, Mayfield spent 16 years coaching on the same sidelines as his father at Tucson High. Todd Mayfield was named the Star’s Coach of the Year in 1986 when he led the Badgers to the state playoffs in after they had gone 15 years without reaching the postseason.

    Coincidentally, the last time Tucson High had been there was in 1971, when Ollie Mayfield led the team to its second straight state title. The Badgers only reached the playoffs once more before Todd Mayfield moved to Palo Verde. The Titans reached the postseason 10 times, winning the 4A-II state title in 2005 and reaching the state semifinals in 2009. Mayfield stepped down after the 2009 season to care for his father, who died in January 2013.

    Mayfield returned to Palo Verde last fall and went 5-5 to increase his record with the team to 97-50, but he retired following the season. In Mayfield’s three seasons away from Palo Verde, it went a combined 8-22.

    Memorable moment: A year after watching his team go 4-6 and miss the state playoffs in 2004, Mayfield had the signature moment of his nearly three decades of coaching in 2005. Fourth-seeded Palo Verde — a perennial underdog — beat No. 2 Cottonwood Mingus 15-7 in front of a hometown crowd at Arizona Stadium to win the 4A-II state title and take home its second championship in program history.

    While that win was certainly memorable, the one in the previous week may have been even bigger. The Titans held top-seeded Phoenix Arcadia to just 224 total yards and beat the Titans 10-0 to avenge a season-opening loss. The Titans finished the season 11-3 and Mayfield was again named the Star’s Coach of the Year.

    From the archives: “Coach Mayfield got it out of us. All year long he said we could be state champions, and here we are. All we can do is trust one another in this family, and we did. And we won it.” — Junior cornerback Ronnell Grant in the Dec. 3, 2005 Arizona Daily Star

    Big number: 5. Mayfield guided Palo Verde to the state playoffs in each of his first five seasons with the team. He finally broke through in that fifth season in 2002 as the Titans earned their first postseason win since 1973, when they went 13-0 and won the 3A — now 5A — state crown under Van Howe, who started the program.

    Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 11 in Thursday’s Star.

    Jason Harris

  • No. 11: John Mallamo

    School: Tucson High School

    Years in coaching: 1956-1966

    Local record: 79-30-4

    Achievements: Tucson High was nearly bursting at the seams in 1953, ranking as one of the largest student bodies in the nation with around 6,800 enrolled. The district introduced two new schools, Catalina and Pueblo, and the effect on the Tucson football program was immediate and devastating. The Badgers stumbled to a 3-15 record over the next two years, causing the school to search for a replacement for the departing Jason “Red” Greer.

    The Badgers found the one in Mallamo. The New York native had won two state titles with Buckeye High and spent time coaching at Phoenix Camelback before coming to Tucson High. He built the Badgers up through the trenches and slowly but consistently turned Tucson back into an Arizona power.

    After going 16-10-3 over the first three seasons, the Badgers became a regular in the state playoffs and title picture. Aside from a 3-5-1 record in 1964 — Mallamo’s only losing season with the Badgers — Tucson won 42 of 45 games and appeared in three state championship games from 1962 to 1966. His crowning moment came with the 1965 state final, which he followed up with his best coaching performance.

    The 1966 squad had to replace 10 starters, including seven All-State players, but behind a powerful line anchored by Bill Dawson and nicknamed the “fearsome fivesome,” Tucson went 11-1 with an admittedly less talented team and beat Mesa Westwood 14-7 in the championship.

    Mallamo was named Arizona’s top coach and retired following back-to-back titles, becoming an assistant principal at Tucson High before leaving in 1971 to become Sabino’s first principal. He retired in 1980 and died seven years later at 67.

    Memorable moment: After losing to Scottsdale Arcadia 40-7 in 1962 state championship and the state semifinals in 1959 and 1960, Mallamo told the Arizona Daily Star he felt like the Badgers were snake-bitten in the playoffs.

    The Badgers finally found the antidote , steamrolling Yuma in the second half in front of a reported 18,000 at Arizona Stadium to cap of a 12-0 season with a 27-7 victory. All-American Lewis Cook scored twice in the fourth quarter and rumbled for 139 yards, and fellow back Davey Jones added 94 yards and a score . While the victory marked Tucson’s 10th title overall, the win was its first since playoffs were introduced in 1959.

    From the archives: “I don’t remember seeing a better high school football team in Arizona. And I was attending Phoenix Union in the days when Union, Mesa, Yuma and Tucson High were producing some real great football teams.” — UA stadium manager Stub Ashcraft, on Mallamo’s 1965 championship squad, in the Jan. 5, 1966, Arizona Daily Star.

    Big number: 404. During the Badgers’ 1965 campaign, the Tucson offense, spearheaded by Cook, racked up 404 points, the most in city and school history at that point. The record didn’t last long: Another undefeated Tucson High squad broke the mark just five years later with 475 points in the 1970 season. Still, Mallamo’s team sits second in Badgers history in total points as it averaged nearly five touchdowns (33.7 points) each game. Mallamo’s 1965 defense was talented in its own right, allowing a then-record 94 points all season.

    Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 10 in Friday’s Star.

    Kyle Johnson

  • No. 10: Nemer Hassey

    Schools: Cienega and Sahuaro

    Years in coaching: 1998-present

    Local record: 130-48

    Achievements: Hassey was hired as the first teacher at Cienega in 2001, and has since built a football dynasty in Vail. Under his guidance, the Bobcats have never had a losing season and have won at least eight games in eight different years. Prior to starting Cienega’s program, he led Sahuaro to three straight winning seasons and a trip to the 1999 state title game, where the Cougars fell to Scottsdale Chaparral 27-10. Hassey led Cienega to the championship game in 2011 but once again came up short against the Firebirds. That season remains the best in Cienega’s short history as the Bobcats opened the season with 13 straight wins before losing to Chaparral 37-14 at Sun Devil Stadium in the Division II state final. It was also the final season in a three-year stretch where Cienega won 35 games while losing just five. Hassey’s teams had finished with a winning record every season before last fall, when the Bobcats started 1-5 before winning their final four games.

    Memorable moment: Hassey’s first-ever game as a head coach came in 1998, when Sahuaro took on archrival Sabino — a team that went 13-1 and reached the 4A state final in the previous year. More than 6,000 fans watched as the Cougars fell behind 13-0. Sahuaro stormed back behind quarterback Reggie Robertson, who threw a pair of touchdown passes in the final 9 minutes, including the game-winner to Chad Huber with 3 minutes 34 seconds remaining. Sahuaro won 20-19, snapping a five-game losing streak to the Sabercats. Coach Jeff Scurran’s Sabino team didn’t lose again that year, finishing 12-1-1 and winning the 4A state title.

    From the archives: “When we lost the state championship game while we were at Sahuaro, someone snapped a photo of (Hassey) getting the runner-up trophy and it looked like someone had kicked him in the gut. I’ve never seen someone look so miserable touching a trophy. He keeps that photo in his office and said he looks at it every day to remind him of how much he doesn’t like being second.” — former Cienega offensive coordinator Ethan Hurley in the Oct. 15, 2010, Arizona Daily Star.

    Big number: 10. Hassey coached Cienega to 10 consecutive postseason berths between 2003 and 2012. In 13 total trips to the state playoffs, Hassey is 15-13 with two state championship game appearances.

    Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 9 in Saturday’s Star.

  • No. 9: Larry Hart

    School: Flowing Wells

    Years in coaching: 1963-1965 and 1968-1979

    Local record: 95-45-6

    Accomplishments: In the aftermath of the city’s first ever 0-10 season in 1962, Flowing Wells was in need of a new coach, one willing to take on a huge rebuilding job. Superintendent George N. Smith turned to Hart, a star quarterback and halfback at Amphitheater in the late 1940s. The 31-year-old Hart had proven he could turn around a program, as he did in eight years at Ajo High School. At first, it looked as if Flowing Wells might be too tough a task as the Caballeros stumbled out to an 0-8-1 record in the first year under Hart in 1963. Yet with some seasoning under his belt, Hart didn’t need four seasons to right the ship as he did with the Red Raiders — he brought discipline to the program and the Cabs to the state championship game a year later. Flowing Wells fell 7-0 to Winslow, but the unprecedented title appearance gave the community a taste of what would come under Hart’s watch. His first stint with the Cabs didn’t last long — Hart left after three seasons to become the principal of Avondale Agua Fria High School. Yet he couldn’t stay away from the Old Pueblo and returned two years later .

    The Cabs went to their second state title game in 1968, and the wins kept coming for Hart and Flowing Wells. Hart took on a second job as Flowing Wells’ principal in 1975, and eventually gave up coaching in 1980 to concentrate on his post as an administrator. With six state championship trips and 146 total wins on his résumé, Hart was elected into the Arizona Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1984, along with other greats like Paul Petty, Rollin T. Gridley and Ollie Mayfield.

    Memorable moment: After five unsuccessful trips to the state championship game, Flowing Wells needed something special, and a little unconventional, to finally break through the barrier in 1975. A touchdown on a blocked punt and three interceptions? That’ll work. Yet the Cabs still made Hart sweat, as a fumble late in the fourth quarter gave Snowflake the ball, down 14-7 in the Class AA title game. The Lobos drove down the field in seven plays to come within one after failing on a two-point conversion, but a Flowing Wells player jumped offside to give Snowflake a second shot. “I thought we were jinxed there for a while,” Hart told the Star after the game.

    Yet the curse finally broke when the Lobos tried to power in the go-ahead two-point conversion, as three Cabs, including two-time All-State lineman David Moore, smothered the Snowflake back to finally secure the elusive championship with a 14-13 win at McClintock High School, clinching a perfect 10-0 record.

    From the archives: “All credit of the sudden success lies on the wide shoulders of Larry Hart, who disproves the old saying that nice guys finish last. … He is what Flowing Wells should always have had — a dedicated coach, educator and gentleman.” — former high school sports editor Ed Jordan, in his “Prep Slants” column in the Oct. 21, 1964, Arizona Daily Star

    Big number: 6. Hart brought the Caballeros to six state championship games, including three straight (1971-1973) and four in five years. While the results in the big game weren’t usually what Hart and Flowing Wells wanted, the Cabs stayed competitive in most games, losing by fewer than 12 points on average in the five losses.

    The feat hasn’t been replicated — the Cabs have won just eight playoff games since 1980, when Hart retired, despite having talented coaches such as Larry Grey, Pat Nugent and Glenn Posey.

    Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 8 in Sunday’s Star.

  • No. 8: Wayne Jones

    School: Mountain View

    Years in coaching: 1988-2006

    Local 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.

  • No. 7: Howard Breinig

    School: Sahuaro and Rincon/University

    Years in coaching: 1976-78 and 1983-94

    Local record: 118-53-5

    Achievements: Breinig had a disappointing three years at Rincon/University, where the Rangers went 8-19. He was relieved of his duties in March 1979 after head-butting a player. But the man who had aspired to be a head coach since his days as a player at the UA received a second chance at Sahuaro and he didn’t waste any time making his mark with the Cougars. Sahuaro was not a playoff regular until he took over. After his retirement in 1994, the school had made the playoffs in 11 of his 12 seasons in charge. And of those 12 seasons, only three times did the Cougars fail to make it past the first round.

    Breinig reached the semifinals six times and won more than 10 games four times, including a 13-1 record in 1991. Even after Breinig retired, he remained on the sidelines as a lower-level and varsity assistant at Sabino until health problems forced him to step down after last season.

    Memorable moment: After three previous trips to the state finals proved unsuccessful for Breinig and the Cougars, losing by at least 17 points in each game, his final game in charge of Sahuaro was as perfect as it could get – even though his team still technically didn’t win the big one.

    After a dramatic rally in the waning minutes of the Class 4A state championship game in 1994 knotted the score at 17 apiece, the eventual tie with Peoria felt as good as any win possibly could, as both teams were awarded the state title. “I can die now,” Breinig told Greg Hansen after the game. “This makes it all worth it.” With less than 90 seconds remaining, backup quarterback Aaron Dumsch used his legs for both the touchdown and the tying two-point conversion to give the longtime coach a perfect ending, as he had announced his retirement as head coach earlier that year.

    From the archives: “When he took over (Sahuaro in 1983), there was not much. He’s turned them around and has made Sahuaro a great program.” – Vern Friedli, Amphitheater’s legendary head coach who was classmates with Breinig in 1959 at the UA, in Oct. 26, 1990, Arizona Daily Star.

    Big number: 1. Starting with a 28-0 win against Canyon del Oro in Week 4 of the 1987 season, Sahuaro lost just one regular season game over the next 4½ years under Breinig. During the stretch, the Cougars won 46 of their 47 regular season matchups until a rough 0-3 start in 1992 ended the nearly perfect mark. The one team to best Breinig and Sahuaro during the improbable run? Friedli’s 1990 Amphi squad, which went on to lose in the 5A state title game that year after beating Sahuaro 35-16 on the road in Week 8.

    Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 6 in Tuesday’s Star.

  • No. 6: Dennis Bene

    School: Salpointe Catholic

    Years in coaching: 2001-present

    Local record: 126-29

    Achievements: More than three decades after playing in Salpointe’s first trip to the state finals in 1981, Bene coached the Lancers to their first title. Last season’s unblemished run to the state crown put Bene’s winning percentage above 80 percent in his 13 years with the Lancers. During his time at the helm, Salpointe has never had a losing season and advance past the first round of the state playoffs in nine of 11 attempts. However, last fall marked just the second time under Bene that the Lancers made it past the quarterfinals.

    The Lancers competed in Class 5A-I until three years ago and struggled facing larger Phoenix-area schools in the postseason.

    They haven’t had any trouble dominating Southern Arizona teams and have won 40 straight games against area teams, with the last loss coming in Week 6 of 2008 against Ironwood Ridge.

    Bene, a former quarterback who graduated from Salpointe in 1984, served as an assistant under former coach Pat Welchert for two years and held the school’s career passing mark of 3,151 yards until he saw Lancers QB Ben Provost surpass it in 2000 with 4,235 yards.

    Since then, Bene has produced three quarterbacks who passed for more than 4,000 career yards and had Tyler Graunke throw for a single-season city-record 3,372 yards in 2003.

    The one record Bene still holds is for racking up 425 yards passing in a single game in 1983 as a senior.

    Memorable moment: After not trailing all season, Salpointe fell behind 6-0 to Scottsdale Chaparral in the Division II state championship game at Arizona Stadium last year. But the undefeated Lancers stormed back with 26 straight points on their way to a 46-20 win to capture the program’s first state title in its 62-year history.

    The Lancers’ defense had a pivotal goal-line stand, followed by Salpointe senior quarterback Andrew Cota connecting with star receiver Cameron Denson for a 98-yard touchdown pass.

    Salpointe led 26-6 at the half before Chaparral scored early in the third quarter to make it 26-13, but Denson responded with an 84-yard punt return for a touchdown to put the game out of reach.

    Bene was named the Star’s coach of the year while Denson, now a freshman on the UA football team, was named both the offensive and defensive players of the year.

    From the archives: “I’m an alum, I’m a former player, and it means everything that we have the championship trophy at Salpointe now. I’m just so, so thankful the trophy is finally at Salpointe.” — Bene in the Nov. 30, 2013 Arizona Daily Star

    Big number: 38. With success comes scouts. Bene has made Salpointe the first stop for college coaches visiting Southern Arizona, sending a total of 38 players on to play Division I college football during his tenure, including six from the 2012 team. Bene also sent five players each in 2002, 2006 and 2013.

    Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 5 in Wednesday’s Star.

  • No. 5 Rollin T. Gridley

    School: Tucson High School

    Years in coaching: 1935-1947

    Local record: 88-28-8

    Achievements: For Gridley, a man who eventually relinquished coaching at Tucson High for his true passion of education, his brief decade with the Badgers was defined by near perfection. Gridley’s Tucson teams from the mid-1930s to 40s never held a losing record and compiled five state championships along the way, including three straight perfect seasons.

    The Janesville, Wisconsin, native never planned on coming to Tucson — he more or less happened upon the city after falling ill from a bad lunch in Albuquerque while traveling to California. A lifetime later, after Gridley died at 96 years old in August 2000, his name was etched into the Tucson High, UA, Pima County and Arizona Coaches Association halls of fame.

    The Badgers’ popularity was so great at the time that their games drew crowds in excess of 13,000 during the historic 32-game winning streak — more fans than the Arizona Wildcats were attracting at the time. Gridley’s real gifts — as his years as a teacher and administrator at Tucson and principal at Catalina showed — were as a leader and motivator, rather than just a ball coach. He made such a profound impact on his players that he received more than 500 letters from former students deployed in the armed services during World War II. He told the Arizona Daily Star that he replied to every one of them.

    Memorable moment: Long before Ka’Deem Carey was breaking tackles and streaking down the sidelines, another Carey — Lee “Legs” Carey — cemented his name in Arizona Stadium lore. One story Gridley continued to tell reporters was about a Week 9 game in 1945 against powerhouse Phoenix Union, in which Carey and the Badgers left the Coyotes in the dust. Tucson High had already beat Phoenix Union 15-0 in the season opener, but now it was hosting the Coyotes in front of around 8,500 at Arizona Stadium.

    The game was over before it started. Carey returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. Then, after an Oscar Carrillo TD put Tucson up 14-0, the Coyotes were forced to punt for the first time. Carey promptly returned the kick 51 yards for a three-score lead. Tucson forced another Phoenix Union punt, and, as Gridley told the Arizona Daily Star years later, “this time they got wise and kicked the ball out of bounds.”

    But on the first play from scrimmage after the punt, the Badgers handed the ball to Carey, who broke free around the left side for a 52-yard touchdown. With the 28-0 advantage, Gridley didn’t play any of his starters in the second half. When it was all said and done, Tucson left Arizona Stadium with a 35-7 victory, its 30th straight, and another signature win.

    From the archives: “Coach Gridley was responsible for our success. He’s a man who changed all of our lives and was a positive influence. I mean that.” — Frank Borman, former Tucson quarterback and famous U.S. astronaut, in the Oct. 14, 1991, Arizona Daily Star

    Big number: 32. Starting with a 41-13 win against Yuma in the 1942 season finale, Tucson won 32 straight games before Austin High School, from El Paso, upended the Badgers 7-0 in the 1946 season opener. The streak stood as the longest in Arizona history until Eagar Round Valley broke it in 1982. During the streak, the Badgers outscored opponents by nearly three touchdowns a game, averaging 25.5 points while allowing only 6.2 per contest. Before taking over football, Gridley also won a state title in basketball at Tucson in 1934 after finishing runner-up a year earlier.

    Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 4 in Thursday’s Star.

    Kyle Johnson

  • No. 4 Jeff Scurran

    Schools: Canyon del Oro, Sabino, Santa Rita and Catalina Foothills

    Years in coaching: 1984-1986, 1988-1999, 2007-2009 and 2013-present

    Career record: 191-46-1

    Achievements: At each stop, Scurran has proven what he’s capable of with a little hard work. After three years and a state quarterfinal appearance at Canyon del Oro, Scurran took over at Sabino before the 1988 season. The coaching legend’s career flourished as the leader of the Sabercats. In just his second season at Sabino, a year after his only losing season in 19 years of coaching high school football in Southern Arizona, the Sabercats submitted their first of six undefeated regular seasons under Scurran. By his third year, the Cleveland native brought the school a step further, capturing Sabino’s first championship and first perfect (14-0) season. Two years later, Scurran duplicated the success, winning another state title as the team finished 14-0 once again. Eight of Scurran’s 12 seasons at Sabino ended with double-digit win totals, and just two seasons were without a playoff appearance.

    Excluding Scurran’s first season at Sabino, he lost just one region game in 11 seasons. His teams were historically strong as well; as both the 1989 and 1992 defenses set, and still hold, state records with 40 interceptions in a single season. Scurran left the Sabercats to create the Pima College football program in 2001, where he led it to a 26-17 record over four seasons but was ready for a new challenge. That led him to a dormant Santa Rita program in 2007 and he made the Eagles relevant instantly.

    The Eagles were 34-7 in three seasons under Scurran, two of which ended with losses in the state final. In his most recent stop, Scurran led Catalina Foothills to an 8-3 record and a playoff appearance in his first season with the Falcons following a winless season a year earlier. Despite a life full of football success, the University of Florida journalism graduate also found time to write a book about his stop at Pima.

    Memorable moment: Although Scurran’s 1990 Sabercats team was undefeated heading into the state final, Peoria was favored. Leading up to the game, the Arizona Republic wrote “The Arizona Interscholastic Association might as well start engraving ‘Peoria’ on the championship trophy.” Trailing by a field goal in the fourth quarter, Sabino drove 79 yards in six plays for the winning score with 3:57 left in the fourth quarter. After a pass interference call on Peoria, Sabino quarterback Tom Brown hit Roberto Moreno for a 39-yard gain. Two plays later, Brown tossed a 15-yard touchdown pass on a corner route to wide receiver Kip Canatsey, completing the comeback and securing the city’s first football state title since 1979 with a 31-28 win.

    From the archives: “Looking back on it, I feel inside of myself that we squeezed out just about everything that was squeezable.

    “This was not contingent of Division I college players that won for us. We have a lot of intelligent athletes that learned to play together, and when these kids crossed the line, they played hard. In football, I believe that’s everything.” — Scurran, about his second undefeated state championship team, in the Dec. 8, 1992, Arizona Daily Star.

    Big number: 1,201. In Scurran’s three championship seasons (1990, 1992, 1998) each of his Sabino teams managed to outscore their opponents by a substantial amount. While both the 1990 and 1992 teams held their opponents under 100 points — 98 and 97, respectively — his ’90 squad scored 517, and the ’92 team put 413 points on the scoreboard. His ’98 squad represented his most prolific offense, as it compiled 608 points while allowing 142 throughout the year. Add those together and Scurran’s championship teams outscored their 42 opponents by 1,201 points, or roughly 28.6 per game.

    Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 3 in Friday’s Star.

  • No. 3 Ollie Mayfield

    Schools: Sabino and Tucson

    Years in coaching: 1967-79

    Local record: 103-35-1

    Achievements: In 13 seasons coaching locally, Mayfield never saw one of his teams finish with a losing record. Tucson High averaged close to eight wins a year in 10 seasons and won back-to-back state championships in 1970 and 1971 with Mayfield before he took over a winless Sabino team and took it to the state playoffs three straight years.

    The Sabercats were on a 21-game losing streak upon his arrival in 1977. After losing the season opener to Cholla that year, Mayfield’s team rattled off five straight wins on its way to qualifying for the postseason for the first time in program history. Sabino lost to Amphitheater in the first round that season but advanced to the state quarterfinals each of the next two years.

    Mayfield went 21-11 in his three seasons with the Sabercats and wasn’t held in such high regard just because of what he did with the X’s and O’s, but he was so revered because of the way he treated his players, students and people in general. More than three decades after leading Tucson to its second straight title in 1971, Mayfield got to experience the glory of another championship in 2005 when he served as an assistant coach at Palo Verde alongside his son, Todd.

    Memorable moment: Mayfield’s undefeated Badgers dominated Phoenix Sunnyslope on their way to a 54-16 win in the 1970 state championship game to cap a 12-0 season regarded by many as the best in Southern Arizona history. Tucson scored 28 points in the second quarter and held a 34-0 lead before the Vikings got on the board. Mark Simon led the way with 140 yards rushing including scoring runs of 29 and 82 yards as the Badgers’ trio of running backs combined for 328 yards and six touchdowns. Barry Sollenberger, a historian for high school sports in Arizona, went even further and once said Mayfield’s team that year may have been the best Arizona had ever seen. Tucson High averaged 39.6 points per game, was ranked third in the nation by National Sports News Service and had 14 players earn college scholarships.

    From the archives: “I’ve always thought at the high school level that the kid who is mentally prepared can do just about anything. If you build up his confidence and don’t knock him down, he’ll do a good job. I know some people will say I’m out of my head or behind the times, but I think the kids today are no different from the kids when I first started coaching. They want to get some discipline. If you get the kid to believe in himself, he’ll come out all right. I’ve been fortunate to have a great bunch of kids over the years, and to work with quite a few good coaches. No matter where I’ve been, I’ve always been blessed with good kids, and it’s made coaching a great experience.” — Ollie Mayfield in the April, 10, 1980, Tucson Citizen

    Big number: 4,280. With the help of a line anchored by Parade All-Americans Mike Dawson and Marvin Lewis, the Badgers rushed for a state-record 4,280 yards as a team in 1970. Tucson averaged 357 rushing yards per game and had three backs — Allistaire Heartfield, Derral Davis and Simon — each surpass 1,000 yards on the ground. Heartfield led the way with 1,396 yards and scored a school-record 21 touchdowns while Simon and Davis registered 1,148 and 1,063 yards each. Although Tucson was a run-oriented team, quarterback Anastacio Martinez still threw 14 touchdowns in 12 games.

    Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 2 in Saturday’s Star.

  • No. 2 Richard Sanchez

    School: Sunnyside

    Years in coaching: 1993-2010

    Local record: 157-59

    Achievements: After starting off as a wrestling coach at Sunnyside, Sanchez quickly applied the same bulldog approach on the gridiron that helped the Blue Devils win five straight state championships on the mat from 1990 to 1994. Sunnyside’s football team went 27-26 the five seasons before Sanchez stepped in as a leader and had won just one postseason game since 1982. The Blue Devils went 8-4 and reached the state playoffs in the first season under Sanchez and went 10-2 with an appearance in the 4A quarterfinals in 1999. That was just the beginning: Under his guidance, Sunnyside played in the state title game four times and won titles in 2001 and 2003. The Blue Devils reached the postseason 14 times out of his 18 seasons on the sidelines despite the fact that Sanchez’s teams were much lighter and smaller. Just four of his former players went on to sign Division I scholarships, but Sanchez continued to churn out productive seasons. The Blue Devils finished 11 seasons with at least eight wins, including nine seasons with double-digit win totals. Sunnyside also dominated locally, winning 41 straight region games from 1998 to 2005, going undefeated in region play from 1999 to 2004. Sanchez is responsible for two of the longest winning streaks in Tucson high school football history with runs of 25 and 23 straight victories. He also had a streak of 11 consecutive seasons with at least one playoff win.

    Memorable moment: Sanchez led the Blue Devils to the program’s first state crown in 2001, one year after losing in the championship game. There was never any doubt the second time around, as Sunnyside scored on the first play from scrimmage at Sun Devil Stadium and never trailed Phoenix Greenway on its way to a 28-6 win. Just 19 seconds into the game, Joey Warren returned an interception 41 yards for a touchdown. The Blue Devils held the Demons to 169 yards of total offense, and star running back Philo Sanchez, the son of Richard Sanchez, rushed for 184 yards and one touchdown on a title-game-record 41 carries.

    From the archives: “I met Richard in 1983, when he was coaching freshman football, and he put the fear of God into me. But every day I wake up and look at the state championship ring that sits on a desk by the bed. We know what it’s like to be at the pinnacle. Richard put us there.” – Sunnyside football coach Glenn Posey, a former assistant under Sanchez, in the Feb. 10, 2011, Arizona Daily Star

    Big number: 50. From the beginning of the 2000 season and through the end of the 2003 campaign, Sunnyside won 50 games while losing just five.

    The Blue Devils also reached the state final each year in that stretch except for 2002 when Scottsdale Chaparral, the eventual champion that year, beat Sunnyside 20-17 in the 4A semifinals.

    Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 1 in Sunday’s Star.

  • No. 1 Vern Friedli

    School: Amphitheater

    Years in coaching: 1976-2011

    Local record: 288-141-1

    Achievements: Any debate on who belongs on the Arizona’s Mount Rushmore of high school football coaches would have to include Friedli, who is one name synonymous with winning in the Grand Canyon State. The National High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee won a state-record 331 games, and had coaching stops at Casa Grande, Morenci and San Manuel before his arrival at Amphitheater. It took Friedli just 11 seasons to reach 100 career wins and, over 36 years, he guided the Panthers to 28 playoff appearances, including 10 trips to the semifinals and three title game berths. Friedli’s team in 1979, which went 13-0 and beat Mesa 27-0 in the Class 3A final, is the last from Southern Arizona to win a championship in the state’s largest division. Under Friedli, Amphi made the playoffs 18 straight years from 1981-98, and had 12 seasons with at least 10 wins. Friedli, who also led Morenci to the state finals in 1973, tied the Arizona record for coaching victories (309) in 2008 with a 48-6 win over Douglas. The result also secured Amphi’s first trip to the playoffs in three years. In the season opener the next fall, the Panthers topped Marana 21-0 to give their coach the state record. In 2001, a decade before Friedli stepped down, the district named Amphi’s football field after him.

    Memorable moment: Although it is tough to narrow down, Friedli is most fond of Amphi’s close win over Glendale Apollo in the 1979 state semifinals at Sun Devil Stadium. With the Panthers leading 7-3 and less than two minutes to play, the Hawks had a first down with the ball on Amphi’s 2-yard line following an earlier fumble by Arlen Bethay. But Friedli’s defense held up strong for four straight plays to preserve the win. One play after linebacker Robbie Lieurance shot through the gap to throw Apollo for a 1-yard loss, safety Randy German took the Hawks for another loss on fourth-and-2. Apollo took an early lead on a field goal in the first quarter but Bethay rushed for a two-yard touchdown to put the Panthers up for good. He had 25 carries for 122 yards in the win.

    From the archives: “I’ve told my wife how inspirational these kids are to me, and that the reason I coach high school football isn’t to win games, or to make a lot of money, but to try to help and influence the kids to do things the right way, the way Coach Friedli taught me 20 years ago. If I can leave even 10 percent of the legacy that coach Friedli left, I’ll be happy.” – Ironwood Ridge coach Matt Johnson, who played for Friedli, in the Nov. 25, 2012 Arizona Daily Star

    Big number: 7. Friedli had 38 players go on to play at four-year schools including seven who went on to play professionally. Brothers Mario and Michael Bates, of course, headline the list and joining them are Jeff Colter, Jon Volpe, Riki (Gray) Ellison, Sam Merriman and Steve Doolitle. Mario Bates still holds the single-season 5A rushing record with 2,740 yards while Michael Bates went on to become an Olympic bronze medalist in 1992. Both spent several seasons playing in the NFL. Ellison won three Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers during his time in the pros.

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