Catalina Foothills coach Jeff Scurran is near completion of his 46th year of coaching at various levels with different schools in need of a fix, including the Falcons the last six years.
At age 71, and with the health scare in September when he fainted and was hospitalized because of stress and a lack of rest, it might be a time for him to think about his own well-being. The possibility exists that he will step away from the game, perhaps briefly, if not permanently.
The decision for his future will come soon enough with the season winding down. Catalina Foothills (4-4, 2-1 in the 4A Kino) plays at top-ranked Salpointe Catholic (8-0, 3-0) tonight in the second-to-last regular season game of the year.
“I’ve put so much into this program, and I care so much of these kids, that I was getting no sleep and my eating habits were off,” Scurran told me of his collapse to the ground after a game at Sabino on Sept. 7.
“I’m not a young kid any more. As you approach the twilight, you look at things a little bit differently, but I got to live my dream.”
Scurran was back it again after the Falcons’ timely bye after the Sabino game, coaching against Pueblo. He is not one to take a rest, especially when a challenge is at hand.
He has taken over moribund programs at Sabino, CDO, Santa Rita and Pima Community College, and two high school teams in Oregon, and made them all playoff-caliber teams.
“USA Today tells me I’m the only coach they’ve been able to research to have three different 0-10 teams that went to the playoffs in their first year,” Scurran said. “I tell them I’m the craziest guy you know who would take over three 0-10 teams.
“I wish there was a magic formula that I can tell you about but it’s a combination of grinding, hard work (and) it’s a combination of getting the right people in the right places, surrounding yourself with the right people.”
Speaking about grinding, Scurran said he will suit up only 24 players tonight against Salpointe because of a variety of reasons, including the tough academic standards at Catalina Foothills and the increased safety concerns for football players. The Falcons do not have a separate junior varsity and freshman team. Because of a lack of participants, the school must combine those teams.
“Is it harder on us? Yeah, it’s obviously harder,” Scurran said of having about less than half the amount of players the Lancers suit up. “Do they have better kids? Yeah, and we talk about that openly with our team. … There’s a game on our schedule. They are going to line up their kids. We’re going to line up our kids. We’re going to do the best job we can. That’s what football is all about.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.