The Tempe High football program is in mourning as it prepares to open the season this week.
Paul Northcutt Jr., a volunteer assistant, died Friday night of an allergic reaction, according to coach John Rodriguez. He was 60.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at Lakeshore Bible Church, 6415 S. Lakeshore Drive, in Tempe.
Northcutt, a resident of Tonto Basin, coached linebackers and running backs and was well received by all players, Rodriguez said.
“They loved him,” he said. “He was great. He was very positive. He worked hard, was very reliable. He got along well with them.”
Northcutt was a first-year coach, but his family has a long history with the school.
Northcutt’s sons, Paul III and Sean, played football for the Buffaloes in the 1980s and ’90s and his grandson, Sean, is on the freshman team.
Tim McBurney, who coached Northcutt’s sons, remembered him as a “great family man.”
“He was constantly involved with his family,” said McBurney, now the coach at Chandler Basha. “. . . He was real positive all the time.
“His kids were tough, great ballplayers.”
Paul III was an all-state lineman and a member of the 1989 state championship team. Sean was an all-city selection and currently is an assistant coach with the JV and varsity teams.
Rodriguez said his players and coaches have done a good job focusing on preparing for games this week against Chandler Seton Catholic (freshman and JV) and Phoenix Moon Valley (varsity), “but this is always in the back of your mind. We’re more worried about the grandson, Sean, and making sure he knows we’re all here for him. We’re here for the Northcutt family and trying to provide as much support for him as we can.”
Sean is expected to play tonight against Seton.
“His family felt it’s important that little Sean try to get back in the swing of things,” Rodriguez said.
The Buffaloes will wear stickers on their helmets all season in Northcutt’s honor.
Northcutt is also survived by his wife Carolyn, daughter Tracy Culbert, father, stepmother, one brother, five sisters and 10 grandchildren.
Staff writer Mark Heller contributed to this report.