It was about 10 months ago that I spent a nice winter afternoon at an east side Subway, just me, my $5 footlong, my notepad and the greatest high school football coach in Tucson history.
I already had a good idea that Jeff Scurran was going to make a quick turnaround at Catalina Foothills, where he'd recently been hired to take over a team that went 0-10 the year before. Foothills has been a pathetic football program, which goes completing against how outstanding the school's other athletic teams have been since opening in the early 1990s.
But after talking with him, and seeing that he still had a lot of pep in those 65-year-old steps, I was absolutely convinced. The Falcons would win a minimum of seven games, and make the playoffs.
I guess I was lowballing Scurran. He won eight games, and has Foothills in the Division III state tournament tonight.
Foothills is the No. 11 seed, which earned it a road trip to Surprise on Phoenix's northwest side to face No. 6 Shadow Ridge (8-2). I know nothing about the opponent other than their nickname is the Stallions, they're making the playoffs for the second year in a row (and in their fourth year of existence) and their coach may or may not be Uncle Rico. So he might be able to throw a football over that mountain.
What I do know is that going from 0-10 to 8-2 in one season is phenomenal, no matter who you are. But Scurran did it at Santa Rita, getting the Eagles deep into the playoffs in all three years before his reputation led to an early departure. He also turned Pima College into a winner almost immediately (now the school is happy when it wins four times in a season), and back at Sabino he won multiple state titles and was a perennial power in Arizona.
If this is what he can do in his first season, just look out for the Falcons in 2014.
Foothills is one of 12 local teams playing this weekend in the state playoffs. Here's how the rest look:
No. 1 Salpointe Catholic (10-0) vs. No. 16 Yuma Cibola (6-4)
No. 8 Mountain View (7-3) vs. No. 9 Peoria Liberty (7-3)
No. 10 Sahuaro (8-2) at No. 7 Gilbert Campo Verde (8-2)
No. 11 Ironwood Ridge (6-4) at No. 6 Tempe Marcos de NIza (6-4)
No. 15 Sierra Vista Buena (6-4) at No. 2 Gilbert Mesquite (9-1)
No. 7 Sabino (8-2) vs. No. 10 Tempe (9-1)
No. 8 Canyon del Oro (9-1) vs. No. 9 Gilbert Higley (5-3)
Division IV (Saturday)
No. 10 Sahuarita (7-3) at No. 7 Winslow (7-3)
No. 14 Rio Rico (6-4) at No. 3 Snowflake (8-2)
Division V (Saturday)
No. 9 Pusch Ridge Christian (9-1) at No. 8 Phoenix Bourgade Catholic (8-2)
No. 13 Benson (7-3) at No. 4 Eagar Round Valley (9-1)