The legendary Jeff Scurran, who has the distinction of turning moribund programs into championship contenders, will take on that challenge at Rio Rico starting in 2022.
Scurran, 74, was approved Tuesday night by the Santa Cruz Valley School District Governing Board to become the 11th different coach to lead the Hawks since the program started in 1997. He is replacing Kevin Kuhm, who stepped down from his second stint at the school after the season.
Scurran is taking over a program that finished 0-8 this season and has only one winning season in its 24-year history — 6-5 in 2013.
The huge undertaking fits right into the tasks he has mastered before at Sabino, CDO, Santa Rita and Pima Community College, and two high school teams in Oregon, He made them all playoff-caliber teams after they struggled mightily before his arrival.
“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.”
Scurran is a spry 74 although he suffered a health scare following a game at Sabino as Catalina Foothills’ head coach in September 2018 when he fainted and was hospitalized because of stress and a lack of rest.
In case you’re wondering, the oldest active coach in the nation is 87 — Bill Bohren of Mathews High School in Vienna, Ohio.
Scurran was also approved by the school board to be Rio Rico’s college and career teacher.
“We are ecstatic to welcome the next head football coach at Rio Rico High School – Coach Jeff Scurran,” Rio Rico athletic director Chris Laughland mentioned in a statement. “Throughout his career, Coach Scurran has proven time after time what it takes to build a winning culture and compete at a high level.
“Coach Scurran values relationships, brings out excellence in others and knows how to spread pride throughout a community. We are excited for this new era of Hawk football under Coach Scurran’s leadership. It’s Time to Fly!”
The following are some highlights from Scurran’s 48-year coaching career. Included among them: Scurran is 60 wins from matching the late Vern Friedli of Amphi for most coaching wins by a Tucson-area coach at the high school level. Friedli amassed 288. Scurran is at 228.
1982: Wahtonka High School, Oregon.
From 0-18 to the state semifinals in his only year at the school (9-2).
1984: Canyon del Oro
The Dorados went 3-7 in 1982 and Scurran took them to eight wins, including a playoff win, in 1985.
Took a 2-8 team to 12-1 in two years and a state championship in 1990.
2001: Pima College
Starting from scratch, Scurran won 26 games in four years and beat the top-ranked team in the nation before returning to the high school level.
2007: Santa Rita
Took an 0-10 team to 11-2 in his first year and a state championship appearance in 2008.
2013: Catalina Foothills.
Took an 0-10 squad to eight wins in his first year and a state championship appearance in 2016.
THE TUCSON WINS
288: Verne Friedli at Amphitheater
228: Jeff Scurran:
-22 wins at Canyon del Oro (1984-86)
-127 wins at Sabino (1988-96)
-34 wins at Santa Rita (2007-09)
-45 wins at Catalina Foothills (2013-18)
2016: 4A Runner-up
2009: D-II Runner-up
2008: D-II Runner-up
1999: 5A Runner-up
1998: 4A STATE CHAMPION
1997: 4A Runner-up
1992: 4A STATE CHAMPION
1990: 4A STATE CHAMPION
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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. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District