Florence High was set to celebrate.Spirit Day Tuesday, part of preparation for homecoming week at the school. The festive mood was shattered by the passing of head football coach Steve McKane.
McKane, 38, passed away early Tuesday morning after suffering an apparent heart attack at his home in San Tan Valley. McKane, was a two-way, all-state player at Mesa High (center and linebacker). He played on two state championship teams with the Jackrabbits (1990 and 1992). McKane went on to play four seasons at the University of Utah (1997-2000) after serving a mission for his church after high school.
"We are just shocked, stunned," Florence principal Thad Gates said. "We have heavy hearts for him, his wife and three boys. He's a great coach and an even better man. Our kids loved hiim, and are just devastated."
Steve McKane was in his second season as head coach (third overall) at Florence after serving several years in different locales as an assistant coach. Florence was 5-5 last season and 3-3 in 2013. The team is preparing for Friday's game against Combs. Steve McKane will be inducted next month in to the Mesa Sports Hall of Fame for his prowess on the football field.
McKane's father, Bill McKane, a longtime coach at Mesa High, has been serving as Florence's defensive coordinator. Bill McKane volunteered Tuesday to take over as head coach for his son in the interim.
"That's his choice and we've acceped that," Gates said. "That's how his boy would have wanted it. It's a hard situation we have to get through...."