A former coach familiar to Rim country sports fans will be honored by the Arizona Interscholastic Association at halftime of the state championship games Feb. 21 and 22 at America West Arena in Phoenix.
"Jiggs" Hardt, the father of Payson residents Chuck and Bill Hardt, will be honored for guiding the 1953 Scottsdale Beavers to a 23-1 record and the Class B Arizona State Championship in basketball. In the state finale, Hardt's team edged Phoenix Carver 55-54 for the title.
In addition to coaching basketball at Scottsdale High -- which is now closed as is Carver -- Hardt led the Beavers' six-man football team to a state title and was a track and field assistant at both Scottsdale and Phoenix North.
In 1984, Hardt was inducted into the inaugural Arizona Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Hardt's dedication to sports and athletics has been passed on to his two sons.
Chuck Hardt has coached football and basketball at Payson High School and is currently the track/cross country coach.
Bill Hardt is a longtime coach in the Payson chapter of the Central Arizona Youth Football Association.
According to AIA Sports Information Director Barry Sollenberger, the honors Hardt and his former players will receive at the state championship games rank among the most popular traditions sponsored by the Arizona Interscholastic Association.
Each year, the five boys and five girls state champions from 25 years ago --and the two boys teams from 50 years ago -- are honored at halftime of the championship games.
To be featured along with Scottsdale from 50 years ago is the Phoenix Tech Hornets team that won the Class A title with a 17-2 record. "Runt" Goddard, now deceased, coached the Hornets to the title.
Boys teams to be honored from 25 years ago (1978) include Tucson Pueblo (Class 3A, now 5A), Tucson Canyon del Oro (Class 2A, now 4A), Apache Junction (Class A, now 2A), Thatcher (Class B, now 2A) and McNary (Class C, now A).
Girls teams on tap for honors from 1978 include Scottsdale Chaparral (Class 3A), Safford (Class 2A), Tuba City (Class A), Florence (Class B) and Joseph City (Class C).