Citizen Staff Writer
After six years of running the Marana High School football program, including a pair of playoff appearances, Willie Dudley has stepped down as head coach.
Marana, which posted a 4-6 record this season and went 2-2 in the Class 4A Sonoran Region, played its final game of the season Oct. 31 – a 31-21 win over Cholla – and did not qualify for this year’s playoffs.
“It was a hard decision to make from the standpoint that this is a team that is rebuilding and I didn’t necessarily want to leave it like that,” Dudley said. “But my youngest son is going to be in high school next year and I want to be able to watch him play.”
Dudley’s son, Chaz, is an eighth-grader at Pusch Ridge Christian Academy and has not yet decided where he’ll attend high school – Pusch Ridge, Canyon del Oro, Ironwood Ridge or Mountain View.
Dudley, 50, will continue teaching physical education at Marana High. He isn’t done with coaching and said he wouldn’t be opposed to taking on an assistant coaching role at the school his son decides to attend, if one is available.
“If that happens, I could still see him play,” Dudley said. “If not, I’ll be more than happy to just watch.”
Under Dudley, Marana posted a 23-38 record and made the playoffs in 2006 and 2007.
In the 17 years before Dudley took over in 2003, Marana had two playoff appearances.
Dudley has been in collegiate and high school coaching for the better part of the past 23 years.
He has worked as an assistant with such notable coaches as Dick Tomey (while at the University of Arizona), Jesse Parker (Gilbert High’s coach, who is tied with Amphi’s Vern Friedli as Arizona’s all-time winningest coach with 309 wins), Karl Keifer (the former Tempe McClintock coach who had 308 career victories) and Jeff Scurran (the current Santa Rita head coach who worked with Dudley at Pima Community College).
Dudley said whomever the next coach at Marana is, he’ll be more than happy to do whatever he can to see the team have a successful 2009 season.
“Those are still my guys,” he said of the returning players. “I’ll still see them all at school and still want nothing but the best for all of them.”