By John Hernandez
San Manuel Miner
There will be six former coaches and athletes going into the San Manuel High School Athletic Hall of Fame this year. The induction ceremony will be held on Jan. 17 at the San Manuel High School gym between the varsity girls and boys games at approximately 6:30 p.m. This year’s inductees are Fred Littau (Coach), Manny Ruiz (Coach), Rex Mirich (Athlete), Cathy Garcia Gonzales (Athlete), Cindy Trejo Navarro (Athlete), and PJ Ponce (Athlete).
Fred Littau was already a veteran basketball and football coach with an outstanding record when he arrived in San Manuel in 1960. His football teams in South Dakota provided him with a coaching record of 80 wins, 25 losses and 2 ties. His basketball teams won 313 and lost 80. His basketball teams were state champions in 1955 and consolation champs in 1949 and 56. The football stadium in San Manuel, Littau Field is named for him. His contributions to SMHS athletics were many.
• Head Football Coach 1960-1967
• Head Track Coach 1960-1982
• Head Cross Country Coach 1967-1971 and 1979-1980
• First Varsity Girls Track Coach 1975-1980
• Track State Champions Coach 1971
• Track State Runner-Up Coach 1970, 1972, 1975, 1979
• Cross Country State Runner-Up Coach 1969
• Inducted into the Arizona Coaches Hall of Fame —1987
Manny Ruiz came to San Manuel in 1956. He would teach and coach there for the next 10 years. Manny taught and coached athletics at Avenue B School and was the Head Basketball Coach at San Manuel High School. He also coached football at the high school. His San Manuel Cagers qualified for state in 1963, 1964 and 1965. The 1965 team were state runners-up losing to the heavily favored Agua Fria Owls 63-61. After leaving San Manuel and returning to his hometown of Superior, he continued his coaching career. His 1974 Panther team were 3A State Champions and the 1975 team were 2A state runners-up losing to Florence 67-63. He is a member of the Superior High School Hall of Fame. After coaching 31 years, 10 in San Manuel and 21 in Superior, his teams provided him an overall record of 333 wins and 240 losses.
• Head Basketball Coach 1956-1966
• Football Coach 1957-1966
• Basketball State Qualifying Coach 1963, 1964, 1965
• Arizona Nominee for National Coach of the Year —1985
• Inducted into the Arizona Coaches Hall of Fame —1987
• Inducted into the Arizona Hispanic Hall of Fame —2004
Rex Mirich graduated from San Manuel High School in 1959 where he competed in football, basketball and track. He attended Arizona State College at Flagstaff (now Northern Arizona University – NAU) on a football scholarship. He was a four year letterman and captain of the team his senior year. He was a two year First Team College All-American performing a rare feat by making it as a defensive guard one year and as an offensive tackle the following year. In 1963 he was drafted by both the National Football League (NFL) and the American Football League (AFL). The NFL Minnesota Vikings drafted him in the 16th round and the AFL Oakland Raiders chose him in round 20. Rex signed with the Raiders. Rex played defensive tackle and end during his career, starting numerous games. He was traded along with a draft choice to the Denver Broncos at the end of the 1966 season for cornerback Willie Brown and quarterback Mickey Slaughter. Willie Brown would go on to become a member of the National Football League Hall of Fame. Rex would end his career playing for the Boston Patriots (New England Patriots) in 1970.
• 1st Team All-State Football 1957 and 1958
• Northern Arizona University Football four year letterman
• College Football All-American 1962 and 1963
• Played eight years in the NFL – Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders and Boston Patriots
• 2006 Inducted into the Northern Arizona University Hall of Fame
• 2012 Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame
CATHY GARCIA GONZALES
Cathy Garcia Gonzales is a 1970 graduate of San Manuel High School. She was a member of the badminton and volleyball teams and a member of the Girls Athletic Association (GAA). She was a two time All-American at Arizona State University as part of the badminton doubles team. Cathy was the Assistant Badminton Coach at ASU when they won two National Championships in 1995 and 1996.
• Badminton State Champion —1968
• Badminton State Runner-Up Champion —1969
• Female Athlete of the Year —1970
• Arizona State University Badminton three year letterman
• College Badminton Doubles All-American – two times
• Arizona State University Assistant Badminton Coach – National Champions 1995 and 1996
• Arizona Volleyball 5A Coach of the Year —1995
• Arizona Badminton 5A State Champion Coach —2002
CINDY TREJO NAVARRO
Cindy Trejo Navarro competed in volleyball, basketball and track for San Manuel High School. She is a member of the class of 1970. She was a member of some of the best softball teams at San Manuel High School and Class 4A. The softball team from 1977-1980 had a combined record of 81 wins and 3 losses. They had two undefeated seasons, won three State Championships and were runners-up in 1978.
• 1st Team All-State Softball Pitcher 1979 and 1980
• 1st Team All-Conference Softball Pitcher 1978, 1979 and 1980
• Arizona Republic Award Softball 1979 and 1980
• Most Valuable Player Award Softball 1978, 1979, and 1980
• Member of Softball State Champion Teams 1977, 1979, and 1980
• Pima Community College Softball 1981 and 1982
• Pima Community College Softball Most Valuable Player 1982
• University of Colorado Softball 1983
• University of Colorado Softball Most Valuable Player 1983
PJ Ponce was a student athlete at San Manuel High School from 1984 to 1988. He competed in football, cross country, wrestling and baseball. He received a scholarship to the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. He made All-American in 1992 and 1993 finishing fourth and fifth in the NAIA national tournament finals.
• 3A Wrestling State Champion 1987 and 1988
• 3A South Wrestling Conference Champion —1987
• All-Arizona Senior All-Star Wrestling Team —1988
• AZ/USA Japan Tour Team Member —1987
• University of Mary Wrestling Letterman 1989-1993
• National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Wrestling All American 1992 (4th) and 1993 (5th)
• Two Times NAIA West District Wrestling Team
• Assistant Wrestling Coach at SMHS 1994-2004