“Anything less than a 12-0 season and the state championship might be considered a disaster by fans at top-ranked Tucson High.”
That’s what Barry Sollenberger wrote about the Badger football team in his inaugural Phoenix Metro Magazine previewing the upcoming 1970 season. That team fulfilled Sollenberger’s prophecy and reeled off 12 straight wins under head coach Ollie Mayfield to capture the 5A state championship over Sunnyslope.
Sollenberger praised players Marv Lewis, John Trujillo, Gil Ramos, Bo Thompson, Mike Dawson, Dick Corral, Al Lopez, Allistaire Heartfield and fullback Mark Simon. The team also featured 100-yard sprint champion Derral Davis and hurdle champion Kelly Langford along with Jinx Johnson, Frank Castro and Will Kreamer. Sollenberger listed the 12-0 1965 Badger team (Rich Alday was the QB) and the 11-1 1966 Badger team as two of the best teams in Arizona during the decade of the 1960s right behind the 10-1 Arcadia squad of 1962. He also placed the 1968 9-1 Tucson High version as the best team from that decade to not win a state title. In all, Sollenberger showed his homework on paper and his prediction for the 1970 season was perfectly correct.
The 1970 squad is still, to this day, considered one of the best teams to come out of Southern Arizona, if not the best team to take to the gridiron. The Badgers went on to win the 1971 title again with an 11-1 record but that talented team did not capture the imagination of the fans in Tucson and undefeated teams like the 13-0 Palo Verde squad of 1973, the 10-0 Flowing Wells team of 1975, the 13-0 Amphitheater team of 1979, the 14-0 Sabino squad of 1990, the 13-0 Mountain View Marana team of 1993, the 14-0 Canyon del Oro powerhouse of 2009 and the 14-0 Salpointe team of 2013 can also make some sort of claim as one of the best-ever to take the field but there’s possibly too much nostalgia involved when reminiscing about the 1970 Tucson High team.
Had there not been an “Open Division” in 2019, the Bijan Robinson and Lathan Ransom Salpointe crew might have proven to be the best team to ever come from Southern Arizona, but a loss to Chandler in the semifinals that year puts an unfair and undeserving weight on that program’s shoulders.
Let’s take a game-by-game look at that Tucson High 1970 season:
SEPT 18: TUCSON 41, CATALINA 0
Te badgers put together 553 yards rushing with Heartfield going for 282 on 10 carries (28.2) and Simon added 136. Heartfield had scoring runs of 7, 65, 80 and 87 yards in the game.
SEPT. 25: TUCSON 43, SUNNYSIDE 6
Tucson gained 300 yards rushing and Heartfield came away with 97. It was total domination with a blocked punt for a touchdown by Lonnie Williams and a safety record by Bert Otero and Corral.
OCT. 2: TUCSON 32, PUEBLO 6
Tucson rushed for 242 yards with Heartfield gaining 110 yards to lead the Badgers. Tucson collected three interceptions in the win including one by Lewis at his own four-yard line.
OCT. 9: TUCSON 40, SALPOINTE 6
The Badgers finished with 304 yards rushing with Davis leading the way with 104 yards on nine carries (11.4) and Heartfield added 102 yards on the ground. Tucson only attempted five passes in the game for 60 yards but a 32-yard strike from Mike Odum to Ricky Morris sealed the deal. The Lancers came away with six interceptions.
OCT. 16: TUCSON 28, RINCON 6
Tucson added 352 rushing yards to their season total with Heartfield going for 151 yards and Davis adding 143 more. Davis had a 70-yard and a 67-yard touchdown run.
OCT. 23: TUCSON 33, DOUGLAS 13
Tucson put together 372 yards rushing with Simon leading the way with 130 yards rushing, Davis with 106 and Heartfield with 102. Dawson and Johnson forced a safety on a penalty on Douglas in the end zone.
OCT. 29: TUCSON 49, AMPHITHEATER 25
381 yards rushing for the Badgers in the game with Davis collecting 211 of those and Heartfield adding 108.
NOV. 6: TUCSON 28, PALO VERDE 20
The first scare for the Badgers with the team only gaining 199 yards on the ground in a game where the Badgers trailed by as many as eight points. Davis had 78 yards.
NOV. 13: TUCSON 47, SAHUARO 6
The Badgers responded to the Palo Verde game in a big way with 315 yards rushing with Simon collecting 103 yards.
NOV. 18: TUCSON 41, SALPOINTE 20
The Badgers won the Southern Division championship over Salpointe with 327 yards on the ground. Simon had 166 yards rushing
NOV. 25: TUCSON 39, WESTWOOD 34
Tucson ran for 420 yards with Heartfield going for 170 yards, Davis 119 and Simon 107. The semifinal game featured a 23-yard run on a fake punt from Castro.
DEC. 4: TUCSON 54, SUNNYSLOPE 16
The Badgers scored the most points ever in a “big-school” championship final. Tucson rushed for 339 yards with Simon going for 140 yards and Heartfield 113. Castro had two interceptions including a 59-yard return for a touchdown.
Heartfield was the leading rusher that season with 1,396 yards. Simon added 1,148 yards and Davis finished with 1,063. These three were the first to ever be selected All-State from the same team with over 1,000 rushing yards each. Dawson and Kreamer were also selected to the All-State team as linemen. Williams, Ramos, Jesus Bracamonte, Corral and Mike Bailey joined Dawson and Kreamer on the All-City First Team.
Heartfield signed with the University of Arizona but injuries ended his career before it began. Unfortunately, Heartfield passed away in 2020 from complications from COVID at the age of 68.
“It’s sad to think that now both he and Derral have passed, leaving Mark Simon, our fullback, as the surviving member of the backfield,” Kreamer told Javier Morales of AllSportsTucson on Heartfield’s passing. “It was like having three Bijan Robinsons in the same backfield.
“In the full-house T, Al was our right halfback and was lined up behind Mike (Dawson) and I,” Kreamer said. “With all the misdirection of the T formation, sometimes just the quick dive, in the 6-hole between me and Mike — in those days, the holes were numbered from outside-in — our ’16’ (play) would really pop.”
Dawson was also a state champion wrestler and he went on to play football for Arizona where he earned WAC Lineman of the Year and All-American honors which led to Dawson being drafted in the first round by the St. Louis Cardinals and he played in the NFL for ten seasons.
Kreamer went on to lead Arizona Western to a national championship in 1972. He became the first girls basketball coach at Tucson High in 1976 and he coached football at Santa Rita, Sahuaro, Tucson, Pima College and professionally in Italy. In all, 14 players earned college scholarships from the team under head coach Mayfield. He finished his career with 144 wins and two state championships.
Mayfield passed away in 2013 at the age of 83. His son, Todd Mayfield, coached Palo Verde to a state championship in 2005 with his dad by his side. That 2005 team was the last neighborhood team from Tucson to win a state championship and it just might be last with suburban programs in Oro Valley, Marana and Vail getting stronger with Salpointe and Pusch Ridge leading the way on the private school front.
Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017, a 2019 AZ Education News award winner and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about high school beach volleyball and high school girls wrestling. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is the Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019 and he is a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee. Contact Andy Morales at firstname.lastname@example.org