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A BLUEPRINT FOR SUCCESS: Sabino High School, AZ
From 1989 to 1998, Sabino has reached the 4A state semi-finals eight times. Coach Jeff Scurran has compiled a record of 117-24-1 with three state titles and a blueprint for success.
By Greg Shepard
Published: Summer 1999

Jeff Scurran is one of the coaching giants in the history of high school football. He is one of our BFS Clinicians and last December produced another state championship team. This giant is 5-8 and weighs a hundred and practically nothing.
He played high school football at North Miami, where he was among 270 other athletes trying for a varsity spot. There, Coach Scurran began to learn his blueprint for success: Work smart and work hard. His father told him sports would be an uphill battle. Undeterred, scrappy little Scurran went to the University of Florida. His career ended on the practice field but coaching got into his blood. He worked hard. He worked smart. He won.
“Everyone has good coaching and good weight training,” says Scurran, “but it is the little things that set you apart.” Coach Scurran pays strict attention to many little things. He also loves a challenge. He has coached in Florida, Georgia, Nevada, California, Oregon and Arizona. He has won everywhere.
Joan Scurran says her husband's best coaching effort might have come in 1981. In The Dalles, Oregon, he inherited a program that had been winless during the two previous seasons. Coach Scurran guided them to the state playoffs in his first season.
Sabino was a similar situation. Other coaches told Scurran that he couldn't win at Sabino. That it was a graveyard. That the affluent parents would bury him. Because the job seemed hopeless was reason enough for Scurran to accept another challenge.
In the first year, Scurran's Sabino Sabercats lost seven games. It would take Sabino seven years to lose seven more. From 1989 to 1998, Sabino has reached the 4A state semifinals eight times. Scurran has compiled a record of 117-24-1 with three state titles. One complimentary Phoenix paper said, “here comes Sabino to Sun Devil Stadium for the State Championship. It's where the Sabercats play their last game.” (Because they win it or play for it almost ever year.) What about those parents? Scurran's skills have guided their booster club which is now capable of raising more than $100,000 annually.
Former Sabino running back, Nathan Wize praises Scurran, “He possesses a great offensive mind.” Former tight end, Doyal Butler calls Coach Scurran a “master motivator” and says that all their success has come through camaraderie and unselfishness.

THE STRENGTH
BLUEPRINT

A big part of Scurran's blueprint for success is his strength and conditioning program. “Our players are totally sold on the BFS Set-Rep workout. It is like the Holy Grail for us. The 5x5 week is the best of all the weeks,” says Scurran.
“If a player can average 400 pounds for five reps on that week with the Parallel Squat, we know he can play football. We have over 20 players who can do that. (Author's note: The majority of coaches do not have their players Parallel Squat as low as Coach Scurran, making this all the more remarkable) We don't care what their size is. If they also have size, that's good but it's not a factor on who plays.
“We totally emphasize the Power Clean. We stress perfect technique. We have learned this important principle: You pay attention to technique in the weight room and you'll pay attention to technique on the football field. Collin Blackburn, our fullback, can Hang Clean 315 pounds for 10 reps. Junior defensive back, Danny Perry, works out with 245 pounds in his 3x3 Power Clean week. Joe Price can Bench 450 pounds but that's not the big thing. It's the Power Clean.
“We are really into breaking set records. We don't worry about a one-rep max. We only try for one rep once every four weeks and that's the 5-4-3-2-1 week in the BFS system. Our players get a gold star if they break all six of their set records during the week. (The BFS System features six core lifts; each one has a set record to break each week). About 90% of our players accomplish this each week. If they get 93% of the gold stars available throughout the off-season, they get a mini gold helmet. About 90% of our players earn their helmets. Our off-season is from January to July so that is quite a commitment. You should see the faces of the kids who don't get them. We have 15 to 20 kids every year get a gold star every week for all four years.
“Missing a workout is just not acceptable. Parents have supported us on this policy. It is rare when kids miss and our team takes care of things when it happens. We don't accept excuses. We do accept reasons. A reason is given before while an excuse is given after.
“We were fortunate to have only one injury this year and he was out only a month. It would have been longer but he was in such great condition. I believe everything we do helps in injury prevention but you have to also be lucky.”

THE AGILITY-FLEXIBILITY BLUEPRINT
“We do the BFS Dot Drill twice everyday and test it once a month. It is sacred as is our BFS Flexibility Program. For us, a lineman should be able to do the Dot Drill in under 50 seconds, while a back should be able to do it in under 40 seconds.

THE SPEED-JUMPING
BLUEPRINT

“We use the BFS Just Jump for testing the Vertical Jump once a month. Every two weeks we test speed with electronic times. Today (3-31-99) we tested Danny Perry and he improved from 4.72 to 4.55. So we know we are doing alright. Quinn Gooch, running back, improved to 4.52 seconds from 4.7 in one year. Junior Kevin Amidan improved his speed from 5.4 to 4.94 seconds in only one year.
At one time, Joe Price weighed over 300 pounds. Scurran told him that he wouldn't let him come out for football if he didn't lose some fat. Joe responded. He got down to a lean, muscular 270 pounds. Consequently, his forty improved from over 6.0 to 5.18 in just one year.
“We work on speed and plyometrics twice a week,” says Scurran. “If our program isn't making every player faster and more explosive, something is wrong. Our kids stay with the program for four years and the not-so-good athletes, by that time, are ready to step in. These success stories are what we expect and get. That's why the kids believe in BFS.”

THE ELIGIBILITY,
NUTRITION & FOOTBALL SMARTS BLUEPRINT

“We watch game films everyday,” revealed Scurran. “and we do it at lunch. That way we can monitor their nutrition as we check their diet. By watching game films everyday, our players get really good at analyzing. They have come to notice things that even our staff misses.
“Our kids are expected to be eligible and be successful in the classroom. They do well. Our team GPA last season had a 3.13 average. We had 14 kids with a GPA of 3.6 or better. Collin Blackburn had a perfect 4.0 GPA with advanced classes. He is going to Harvard. Joe Price had scholarships to Stanford and Harvard. He will be joining Collin at Harvard. Miles Mason will attend Princeton. No other player on our State Championship team received a Division I scholarship. We're just scrappy little Sabino.”

THE ATHLETICISM
BLUEPRINT

Coach Scurran puts together a complete package. During the summer, they enter passing leagues, usually in California. Last year they traveled 17 hours by bus to play in a Colorado passing league. Said Scurran, “We even entered our linemen and put them with our junior varsity quarterback. They won many games. Our goal is to develop athletes.”

THE TRAINING RULES-
DISCIPLINE BLUEPRINT

“Being a Sabercat football player is not easy,” reasoned Scurran. “We ask a lot of our kids. We want them to consistently do the right thing. We don't want them involved in negative behavior and ruin the good they have done. For example, I tell them, if you just feel that you have to go out drinking during the season, you are an alcoholic. If you must take drugs, you are a drug addict. I feel it fits the definition, especially the beginning stages. We truly want each and every

Summer 1999 Cover
The Sabino Championship Team
Jeff Drumm, LB-DT at 5-10” 195 pounds does his BFS 3 x 3 set Power Clean workouts with an amazing 280 lbs.!
Joe Price, C-LB Parallel Squatting 620 lbs. with perfect form: Knees over toes, upright position & eyes straight ahead.
Coach Scurran and players celebrate another State Title under the lights at Sun Devil Stadium.
Aaron Huertas, Jr. LB, doing one of six core lifts, the Trap/Hex Bar with Tyler Tribolet spotting.
Blake Kinert, QB jumping on a 32” box. Every varsity player can do a Plyometric circuit with nine 32” boxes.
#19 Quinn Gooch the Sabercats’ leading rusher, kicker and All-State Defensive back. #55 Joe Price 6-2 270, said after the State Championship Game “This is the best feeling of my life.” #42 Collin Blackburn 6-2 230 lb. FB scores in the Quarter Final Game. (Diving) Jr. QB Blake Kinert, also stated “I’ll have this in my heart for the rest of my life. It feels great.”
Coach Jeff Scurran and the 1998 Arizona State Champion Sabercats.

Return to Summer 1999 Articles


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