Trevor G. Browne High School honored legendary Bruins football coach Bill Mitton last Friday by naming their stadium after him with a dedication ceremony.
The first coach at Trevor Browne in 1972, Mitton coached the Bruins for 29 years and won 206 games, including a 1981 state championship.
The '81 state title rests in the middle of three straight trips to the championship game.
Built during rapid expansion of the Phoenix metropolitan area, Trevor Browne HS is close to 75th Avenue and Thomas. About 300 Mitton fans, mostly former players, showed up for the dedication last Friday.
"The ceremony was wonderful. We met in the auditorium and they had about an hour-long ceremony in there with a video and cheerleaders and different faculty. They videoed some of my former players from around the country and had them speak. Then we went outside before the game and they had a canvas over the scoreboard They unveiled it and it said, "Bill Mitton Stadium," said Mitton. "It was like a reunion. I coached at Browne for 29 years, and it was a great night."
Mitton explained when you coach somewhere for that long you become ingrained in the fabric of a community; he coached children of former players.
"We had a great run of kids for a lot of years. Some of the kids graduated and I ended up seeing their children then come through. There was a lot of community support," said Mitton. "After spending a long portion of your life there, you don't lose that. There's a lot of fond memories and I still know a lot of the faculty there that I taught with, and many members of the community."
Mitton was loyal, and his community reciprocated. Strong support was crucial to the football team's success, but also the skill of his players. Mitton said there was no shortage of great talent wearing orange and brown. He doesn't know the exact number, but Mitton said Browne produced around 65 All-State selections in 29 years.
The Bruins ran the wing-T for much of Mitton's tenure, with alterations depending on the skills of his quarterback.
"We always had great speed and players that could run," said Mitton.
Now retired, Mitton lives in Camp Verde, but still pays close attention to Arizona high school football. The Bruins football team hasn't had much success lately; they went winless last year and have started this season 0-4. Camp Verde is also struggling this season with a 0-4 start.
"There are certain things you do as a coach whether you're winning or not - you teach fundamentals, you teach your players how to play hard. Before you win you have to eliminate the ways you can lose. I kind of live by that," said Mitton. "You don't do things that make you lose - you don't fumble the ball, you don't jump offside, you don't throw interceptions. You line up correctly. It's all those little things that you try to be perfect at. You have to eliminate those mistakes, and yet there are sometimes when the other team has better kids than you, and if they're well coached -- it's always good to be a little lucky too."