The Provenzano Project: To Cottonwood And Back

Long before sunrise hits Surprise, Doug Provenzano’s day is well under way.

It starts in his garage gym with a high-intensity workout before a quick trip to his backyard hot tub and back into the house to prepare for his daily journey.

The Mingus Union High School first-year head varsity football coach is doing something some may think is crazy or, at the very least, dangerous. Up to six days a week Provenzano commutes from his west Valley home to the Verde Valley in hopes of turning around a Marauder program steeped in tradition but, until this year, lacking direction. 

“I think they’ve adapted really well,” he explained to Sports360AZ.com of his new team. “I’m a real strong personality. I demand it. I don’t even give them an option. This is is the way it’s going to be.”

Provenzano is no stranger to turning around programs as evidenced from his previous head coaching positions at Paradise Honors and Goldwater. Last season, as an assistant, he helped lead Liberty to a 6A State Championship.

He’s earned the respect of his coaching peers throughout the state, as well as his new boss and co-workers in the high country.

“He brought some energy and some passion for what we need here at Mingus,”  MUHS Athletic Director Yancey DeVore said to Sports360AZ.com. “The thing that stood out the most was his approach to character and that development within the program. We can’t lose sight of the past or where we’ve come from.”

Mingus saw unparalleled success under long-time head coach Bob Young who eventually moved on to lead Sedona Red Rock and now Bradshaw Mountain High in Prescott Valley.

Provenzano knew the Marauder program, which went winless in 2019, needed a facelift both on and off the field.

After COVID restrictions initially limited his in-person and on-campus interactions but during the summer – making the daily commute – he went to work remodeling the outdated weight room, as well as the locker room known as “The Cave” which houses several iconic memories and names of the Marauders’ football past. He ordered and organized nameplates for Mingus football standouts dating back to 1960.

“We wanted to showcase and honor all of the great players who came before us,” Provenzano said.

“He’s been true to his word, that’s the thing I’ve noticed since the first day,” senior running back/safety Jonathan Sanchez said. “We have extra motivation because we have a coach who’s serious and in it for the long haul.”

Despite the daily three-hour commute, Provenzano is intent on being a difference maker both on and off the field.  

“I just felt like this was a place where I can do my best work and really contribute to a community that needed a quality coach,” Provenzano said. “I just knew I was supposed to be here when I took the tour…everything just lined up.”

Provenzano and Mingus are proving to be the perfect match.

With each driving towards success.

A Valley native, Eric has had a passion for the Arizona sports scene since an early age. He has covered some of the biggest events including Super Bowls, national championships and the NBA and MLB playoffs in his near 20 years in local media.