Rumors in high school coaching circles are that Mountain Pointe and Dobson are pursing former Show Low coach and ex-Blue Ridge star Jeremy Hathcock.
Both schools, which play in 5A Division 1, have head football coaching openings.
Longhorn fans will remember Hathcock as one of the finest running backs in the state while playing for Blue Ridge from 1988 to 1990.
In fact, he continues to hold the 3A conference record for most points scored in a career (404).
After graduating from BRHS Hathcock eventually took up coaching football and in 2003, only his second year as a head coach, led the Show Low Cougars to a 13-0 record and the state championship.
In the gold medal finale, the Cougars beat then-powerful Seton Catholic 35-14.
The word out of Show Low, where the success of the football team is often at the center of town turmoil, is that the Cougars were successful partly because the players bought into Hathcock’s system.
After a successful stint in Show Low, the ex-Yellow Jacket ended up at lowly Desert Ridge, which had won only three games in three seasons.
In 2004, before Hathcock arrived, Payson High ran roughshod over the Mesa-area high school, winning 40-0. At halftime, the Horns led 33-0 over hapless Desert Ridge.
Last season, Hathcock turned the team around, taking Desert Edge to the 5A Division II playoffs with only two losses — both to undefeated Peoria Centennial.
At Desert Ridge, Hathcock is said to have run a wide-open, pass-happy spread offense that was a hit with the players.
Last season, Hathcock’s quarterback at Desert Ridge, Kevin Pantastico, threw for six touchdowns against Mesa Red Mountain and wrapped up the year with over 2,800 yards through the airways.
That type of wide-open “O” could be one of the reasons Mountain Pointe is hotly pursuing Hathcock. With a fun offense, his presence could attract some of the finer Tempe and Ahwatukee area athletes who might otherwise go to other nearby schools, like Tempe Desert Vista.
More 3A records
On the topic of 3A state football records, which Hathcock is still listed, there are a handful of former East region players still clinging to single season and career marks.
Blue Ridge’s Scooter Sprotte, holds the record for most touchdowns (38) and rushing yardage (2,961) in a single season. He also holds the mark for rushing yards in a career (5,069).
Disappointingly for Longhorn fans is that many of those yards and TDs were scored against Payson.
Snowflake’s Porter Caldwell holds the record for most TD passes in a season (33). He’s also tied with Show Low’s Willie Nikolaus for most touchdown passes in a game (6).
Show Low’s Randy Nikolaus, a player I once had the privilege of coaching, has the record for most receiving yards in a game (287). He also has the record for catches in a game (18). Both were set in 1982 against Holbrook. That year, he also set the 3A mark for catches in a season with 89.
That record ranks third all-time regardless of school size classification.
Only Clifton Jones (Florence, 101) and Calvin Dacus (Tucson Sahuaro, 100) caught more passes than Nikolaus.
Blue Ridge’s Cory Lizarraga kicked four field goals against Tuba City in 1997 to set a 3A record. He also set a record of 19 field goals kicked in a single season.
Records are made to be broken, but some of those are good enough to be around a long, long time.