Marana High School has named its new football coach, now all it needs are some players.
The Marana Unified School District announced on June 16 the hiring of Willie Dudley to replace Anthony Coronado, who tendered his resignation as head coach in March.
The biggest challenge ahead of Dudley is restoring a program that has fallen on hard times. After finishing the season a disappointing 1-9 in 2003, Marana found itself dangerously short of players, many who defected under Coronado's tenure.
"We're looking for players who want to come out and play," said Dudley, "They have to know we're going to work their tails off, but we want kids who want to succeed.
"In order to be successful we need everyone to be ready by Aug. 2 with paper work and physicals already done."
The second day of August marks the first day of practices for high schools in Arizona and Dudley is hoping for a turnout of about 33 players to build around the solid core of seven to eight athletes he has working out in the weight room for him this summer.
The new head coach comes to Marana after bouncing between coaching gigs on both the high school and collegiate levels. Beginning at McClintock High School in 1980, Dudley coached at three schools in the next eight years including stints at Mesa Mountain View and Marcos de Niza in Tempe. After that it was on to the University of Arizona where he was a graduate assistant under then Wildcats' head coach Dick Tomey.
From there Dudley moved on to work as an assistant coach at Northern Arizona University under Steve Axeman and as special teams coordinator at Pima Community College under head coach Jeff Scurran. Dudley spent last football season coaching at Pusch Ridge Christian Academy.
"I've had the fortune to work with probably four or five of the best coaches in Arizona," said the new head coach. Learning something new from each one of those coaches has molded Dudley's coaching style, which he hopes will equate to success for the Tigers.
Dudley brings to Marana a strong work ethic and looks for the perfect blend of both mental and physical toughness in his players. The prospect of turning around a Marana football program that has been in the doldrums has Dudley energized. The self-described, offensive coach will be looking to add firepower to a Marana Football squad that has been sorely lacking for quite some time.
"I'm excited, this is a great opportunity," said Dudley. "People want to see offense, it's what makes the game exciting."
Dudley's role in the Marana School system off the field has yet to be determined according to the head coach. Though currently working as a loan officer in Tucson, Dudley does not rule out the possibility of teaching Physical Education at Marana High School.
Being around the kids and making himself easily accessible is probably the important element to becoming a successful coach, said Dudley.
Away from the sidelines, in between raising his three children, Dudley had devoted time in the past as a Southern Director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the largest interdenominational, school-based, Christian sports organization in the United States.
As for the lack of players at his new school, Dudley is cautiously optimistic about the threat of a low turnout.
"All we need is 11 to play," he quipped.