Come fall, high school football in the Northwest will see a shakeup, as new head coaches have been named at Marana, Mountain View and Pusch Ridge Christian Academy high schools.
Andy Litten, a 10-year teacher at Mountain View, will take his teaching and coaching experience to Marana in August.
A graduate of Mountain View and the University of Arizona, Litten has 10 years experience coaching with the Mountain View football program where he worked alongside coaches Wayne Jones and Paul Schmidt. For the last two years, Litten has worked as the offensive coordinator at Catalina Foothills High School.
Litten’s interest in the Marana football program was peaked last year as he watched the Tigers, who were then 0-9, play against Foothills.
“When we played them, the atmosphere was not that of an 0-9 team,” said Litten. “The players played that game as hard as they possibly could, and they looked nothing like an 0-9 team. They never gave up. They have great fans, great facilities, and a team with a lot of potential.”
Litten said he also noticed a lot of talent on the Marana team, something that will certainly make his job easier.
“When we watched film from their games, we as the coaching staff saw a lot of weapons, and when you looked at their roster, it was mainly juniors and sophomores. They have a lot of talent, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to change some things in a really special community.”
Litten will look to maintain the Tigers’ never-give-up attitude when he steps onto the field in August, and though there may be some fine tuning, he is clear about the direction he wants to take the team.
“We want to win,” he said. “There are a whole lot of people saying if we win one game we’ll have done better than last year, but that’s not our only goal. We want to win throughout the season.”
Off the field, Litten will be teaching a mixture of courses at Marana, including two world studies classes and two lifting classes.
Marana’s first game will be against Mountain View on Aug. 24.
“It’s kind of ironic, or fitting,” said Litten about facing his former team the first game of the season.
After coaching middle school and youth football the last 10 years, Troy Cropp was asked by Pusch Ridge Athletic Director Lonnie Tvrdy if he would accept the position as the school’s new head football coach. For Cropp, a football lover and man of faith, the decision was easy.
Cropp, an insurance agent by trade, said he is excited to be a part of Pusch Ridge’s athletic program.
“The school has made a huge number of changes,” he said. “We’ve been doing some fundraising, and we have new lifting equipment. We have folks certified at the school in athletic development. The school didn’t have a real regimented athletic development program, so I am looking forward to seeing the fruits of all the labor pay off.”
Cropp will be taking over a Lions’ team that struggled last year, ending the season with a 2-8 record. Cropp said he hopes to improve that record, and plans to bring in a whole new game plan to do so.
“We are going to take our players and make the most of the strengths we see in them while minimizing errors,” he said. “It’s going to be a new brand of football- new offense, new defense, new passing system.”
Improving the Lions’ record isn’t the only priority on Cropp’s mind. He is looking forward to watching his new team develop in another way.
“What’s going to be great about coaching at Pusch Ridge is watching these young men become leaders, and getting to know them and watching them become Godly men,” he said.
Clarence McRae will take over the reigns at Mountain View High School after spending the last eight years as a coach in the Arizona Wildcat football program, and as a strength and conditioning coach for the college’s various athletic programs.
McRae said he considered continuing to coach in college football programs around the country, but chose local high school football because it best suited his family.
“I decided to stay because I didn’t want to make my kids relocate when an opportunity came up,” he said.
When the opportunity to coach at Mountain View opened up, McRae was excited, as it allowed him to stay in Tucson and coach a sport he loves. McRae said while he expects minor adjustments, not much changes in the actual sport.
“There’s a big adjustment in that the money isn’t as big of a concern in high school football,” he said. “When there’s a potential for money after the college level, intensity picks up. Football is football though, and a lot will be the same as far as the game goes.”
McRae said he is very excited with what he has seen at summer practices, and expects a good season for his team.
“I’m looking forward to watching the guys compete,” he said. “They are giving their maximum effort all the time, and I look forward to watching them when the season begins.”
For McRae, there is some family pride involved in his new coaching position, as his brother graduated from Mountain View, and his cousin was on a former member of the school’s state championship team.
“Mountain View is a great place, and this will be a great job,” McRae added.