Andy Litten’s tenure at Marana High School is coming to an end after an impressive six-year run that included consecutive region championships and the school’s first playoff win in 15 years.
Litten, who is leaving to become the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Chandler’s Hamilton High School, went 36-28 in six seasons with the Tigers.
The Marana native, who played high school football at rival Mountain View High School, posted back-to-back 9-3 seasons in 2016 and ’17.
He’s proud of his accomplishments with the team, remarking how far they’ve come as a program from when he took over.
“I took over a program that had won, I believe, four games in four years, had a 14-game losing streak, and when I took over I extended that to 19,” he said. “So, I felt all of those 19 games. And so, for us to turn around the program and make it something that the alumni are really proud of is something that probably is one of the proudest of things that I am in my life.”
Litten, known for creating the Tigers’ trademark no-huddle, fast-paced offense, is amazed by the transformation, not just by the Tigers, but other local programs as well.
“The Chandler area is probably in all of Arizona, one of the more elite areas, and I’d say that Marana and Northside football is becoming incredibly elite as well,” Litten said. “You’re with Ironwood Ridge and Mountain View and Marana, CDO and Pusch Ridge. It’s one of those areas that you’re starting to get a lot of really good teams staying in place for their high school, and you have a good group of coaches that have done a really good job with their kids.”
Litten has a myriad of favorite memories during his tenure in Marana, including his first playoff win against Kellis in 2016, and the team’s first-ever win over the Dorados.
“It’s kind of hard. I would say that one of my most-enjoyable victories was CDO, not this year, but last year, just because this school had never beat it in its history,” Litten said. “I would probably say, just a moment game for our program was probably that CDO game where we really believe that we can beat anybody in the state of Arizona.”
Perhaps the greatest feat of Litten’s time at Marana was his ability to build and maintain relationships with his players.
Junior quarterback Trenton Bourguet, who threw for 2,984 yards and 38 touchdowns last season under Litten, praised the coach everything he’s done.
“I was very shocked when I first heard about him leaving, but I’m happy for him and I hope the best for him at his new school,” Bourguet said. “He turned around this program and the culture in our town and helped put Marana back on the map.”
Bourguet said he’ll miss the weekly sit-downs he had with Litten, where the two would pour over football strategy and life lessons at the same time.
“Coach Litten was one of my best friends on campus, and we would talk every day whether it was about football, school or another sport,” Bourguet said. “He always believed in me and I was on varsity since my freshman year. He and I have built a relationship with each other that I’ll remember forever. “
Litten said he’ll miss the relationships he’s forged in his six seasons at the school, but says he’ll always remember his time fondly.
“[Honestly, the best part of the job] is that relationship with kids,” Litten said. “The wins and losses happen, and those are fun, but I think that those are all life lessons that you can kind of teach kids.”
Litten said his transformation from an unproven commodity to one of the brightest coaching prospects in the state wouldn’t have happened without the district and school’s support over the years.
“I really appreciate do appreciate my time here at Marana, and I wanted to make sure that I tell Marana district thank you for having me and giving me this opportunity,” Litten said. “There was a group of kids that committed to me and doing that work together. I’m just really, really proud of the culmination of the district and the community and the kids. It’s been a really great, great ride for me.”
Tucson Local Media caught up with MHS Dean of Students and Athletic Director Sarah Whaley a couple days after the news broke. Whaley said that Litten’s decision to move was made “by Andy in the best interest of his growing family” and that the school staff “support him fully” in his decision.
“Marana High School, and our athletic department in particular, wants to thank Coach Litten for all he has done during his tenure here,” Whaley said via email. “Coach Litten took over a program that had been a perennial punching bag for years, and turned it into a program that won back to back region titles, qualified for the state tournament the past two seasons and has seen multiple athletes receive post season recognitions for their on the field performances. Coach Litten has also been recognized as Coach of the Year this past season. He has left this program in much better condition than he got it.”
Whaley said that an immediate search will begin for a new head coach and staff following standard district hiring process. She added that they are committed to finding a coach who can continue to lead the program with a sustained level of success, and who shares the overall vision of MHS athletics.
“We wish Coach Litten the best of luck in all of his future endeavors,” Whaley said. “We are grateful for all he has done for Marana High School and all the young men he has coached.”