Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: After winning back-to-back state championships, Sean Hinton has been replaced as the head football coach.
By Jon Johnson
Ramon Morales announced as new head coach
THATCHER – The Thatcher Eagles’ quest for a three-peat got a little bit more interesting Tuesday as head coach Sean Hinton was removed from the team.
Sources indicate Hinton has succumbed to a substance addiction and is seeking help with drug rehabilitation. Citing personnel privacy laws, that information has not been corroborated by Thatcher Schools. Sean Hinton could not be reached by the Gila Herald for comment.
On Tuesday, Thatcher Superintendent Dr. Kevin Spiller announced longtime coaching staff member and history teacher Ramon Morales will take over for Hinton.
“Coach Morales has (more than) 30 years of coaching experience at Thatcher USD and we are extremely confident he will continue the proud tradition of Thatcher Eagles football,” Spiller said.
Dr. Spiller said while he wouldn’t elaborate on why Hinton was replaced, he said he made the decision after meeting with Morales on Monday.
“I had a good visit with him (Morales),” Spiller said. “He’s excited and has a great rapport with the kids. I think he knows what we stand for and his experience and his stability is exactly what our kids need as we pursue a third straight state championship.”
Hinton was an all-state running back in each of his last three seasons at Thatcher and was named all-area MVP his senior year in 2002. That year, the Eagles repeated as state champions, and Hinton was named MVP of the championship game.
Hinton then joined the football team at Arizona State University, redshirting his freshman year in 2002 and becoming a member of the scout team.
After graduating college, Hinton returned to the Gila Valley and joined the Fort Thomas High School football team staff and was the boys head basketball coach.
Thatcher soon came calling, however, and Hinton signed on to teach physical education and weights at the high school while taking the reigns of its football program as its head coach in 2015.
Hinton then guided the program to back-to-back state championships in 2016 and 2017, winning semifinal and championship games in thrilling style.
Down 23-8 with about 9 minutes left in the fourth quarter of the 2017 championship game, the Eagles came back and beat their second undefeated team in the playoffs, besting the Santa Cruz Valley Dust Devils, 28-27 in overtime.
At this time, Hinton is still employed at the Thatcher High School as its physical education teacher and weights teacher, according to Spiller.
Click here to view a previous Gila Herald article about two new addiction recovery facilities that have recently opened in Safford.