HURRICANE – Under head coach Chris Homer, the Hurricane Tigers went from 3A afterthought to 3A powerhouse, playing in four straight state championships games and winning it all in 2011.
Steve Pearson was right there the whole time.
Now Pearson, who served as offensive coordinator for Homer and the Tigers for 13 years, will try to fill Homer’s shoes, taking the head coaching position at Hurricane while Homer moves over to the athletic director spot.
“It’s strange not working together anymore,” Pearson said. “We spent a long time together coaching the Tigers and I’m going to miss that relationship. But I’m ready to go. We were able to put together a great tradition here and I want to keep it up. It’s not a sprint. It’s not a marathon. It’s more like a relay race — same torch, just a different runner.”
It’s safe to say Hurricane has become a football town the past decade or so, with Homer handling the details and calling the defense and Pearson running the offense. From 2008 to 2011, the Tigers had an astounding 48-7 record, a winning percentage of 87.3. In a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction run, Hurricane lost the state championship game in the final few seconds to Juan Diego in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
The Tigers finally broke through in 2011 by beating Desert Hills in the finals 21-0 in a blizzard at Rice-Eccles Stadium. But Hurricane was denied revenge on Juan Diego as the Soaring Eagle lost to the Thunder in the semifinals.
Homer and Pearson were there through it all. But Homer said the stress of being head coach started to wear on him.
“As athletic director, I’m sure I will work as hard as I did as head football coach, but I think the level of stress will go way down,” Homer said. “It does grind on you. You don’t sleep much during the season and your family life suffers as well. I had planned on being coach another year or two, but this came open and I felt like I needed to make the move.”
Pearson said he and Homer had talked about this scenario recently, but the timing of it really caught him off-guard.
“We’re close and we had discussed this before, but we had also talked about this possibly lasting another 15 years,” Pearson said. “He was surprised by this and I was too. It was one of the hardest days of my life when he got the job (as athletic director) and I knew some changes had to be made in the football program.”
Pearson joked that Hurricane was going to change its offense and go with “10 wide receivers and throw the ball 100 times a game.” Though Hurricane did do well at the BYU 7-on-7 passing camp last week, Pearson reiterated that the passing fancy was just a lark.
“We threw 300 times in one day at the BYU camp,” he said. “That’s more than we’ve thrown in a decade in games. We’ve found a formula here and that’s not going to change.”
Pearson, who officially took the reins in mid-June, said the expectations are high in H-town, but not any higher than what he expects out of himself, his team and his staff.
“There will always be expectations and pressures,” he said. “But the biggest pressure will be the pressure we put on ourselves to be successful. We know what needs to be done and we’re not going to spend a lot of time worrying about what goes on at the barber shop.”
Pearson and his wife Linda have five children, including two adult daughters and a son who is heading into his sophomore season as a football player for the Tigers. The Pearsons also have a sixth-grade daughter and a third-grade son.
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