By Lee Patterson
We are well on our way to a dynasty in Gila Valley High School athletics. We’ve already examined the record books of Safford and Thatcher. I’m blown away by the totals so far. Sometimes something unexpected happens as well. After I published part 1 of this series, I received a phone call from BB Andrews at Safford High thanking me for doing this project. He also mentioned that thanks to this series, Safford was made aware of 4 more State Titles than they had in their records. It was the late ‘30’s and early ‘40s tennis championships.
When I started this project I just wanted to have written proof of the outstanding athletics programs in the area. The results have been far and above what I was expecting. As we move our way West in the Gila Valley, today we examine the Pima Roughriders.
Pima High School
Football – 9
(1961, 1969, 1973, 1974, 1984, 2004, 2005, 2015)
The first 3 titles were all coached by Edd Hubbard, the man the Pima football field is now named after. Current Head Coach John Bryant owns 2 of those titles. Roger Smith, Dave Colburn, Tom Davis and Jace Hancock each have one each. Although Pima has spent time up at the 2A level, all 9 of their titles have come at the 8-man level. 6 of the 9 Championship teams have finished the season undefeated.
Volleyball – 7
(1971, 1973, 1975, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1984)
Gerry Hekekia coached the first volleyball Championship team in 1973 when Pima was up in the 3A. Stan Natividad took over and won the ’73 and ’75 titles. Vivian Klee owns claim to 3 state titles, the most of any volleyball coach. Donna Moore coached the team to the last title in 1984.
Boys Basketball – 10
(1966, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1982, 1983, 1984)
Pima beat Fort Thomas in 1966 to win their first hoops title under Honk Norton. Legendary coach Stan Smith then rolled off 5 straight championships and added one more after a year off in 1975. From 1970 to 1975 Pima only lost 5 games. Brad Moon coached the next two titles before Dave Henson lifted the Gold Ball in 1984. He would then go on to win several girls hoops championships at Thatcher.
Girls Basketball – 3
(1984, 2002, 2003)
Helen Minick owns the 1984 State Title, her only one. Brad Hemphill coached the Lady ‘Riders to the next two in back to back seasons in ’02 and ’03. Pima and Fort Thomas battled for the top 1A girls team in the early 2000’s.
Wrestling – 1
Digger O’Dell has been involved at Pima High wrestling for ages and was able to pick up their lone wrestling team title in 1996.
Baseball – 2
Don Hildebrant coach the ‘Riders to their 1978 title over St. David and legendary coach Jim Crawford, the most winningest 1A baseball coach in the state. “The Coop” Greg Cooper coached Pima to their latest in 2016 with a 2-0 win over Bagdad.
Softball – 1
Stan Natividad added another championship team to his resume with a shootout win over Seton Catholic in the 1980 title game. The 25-33 final in 8 innings is still the most combined runs ever scored in a softball state title game.
Tennis – 1
Judy Tatum coached the ’09 tennis team to the title in a 5-4 squeaker over Surrey Garden.
Track & Field – 9 (Boys 7, Girls 2)
(1966, 1980, 1984, 2002, 2003, 2004)
You may know Cliff Thompson as the boys hoops coach at Pima but did you know he is owns 5 State Track Championships? He coached the boys to 3 straight title in ’02, ’03 and ’04 and the girls to the ’02 and ’04 titles. Hank Metzger, Dick Cramer and Ed Hubbard all added 1 title.
1984 was a heck of a year at Pima High School. They won the State Championship in Football, Volleyball, Boys Basketball, Girls Basketball and Boys Track. Every State Championship they were in that year, they won.
Total tally is 43 State Championships for Roughrider Nation.
That takes the total Gila Valley Championships to 208 total… in just 3 schools. We still have Fort Thomas to tally but I am officially calling it a Dynasty now. How can you not with 207 Championship teams.
We will tackle Fort Thomas next week in Part 4!