CHANDLER — Eighteen months ago, with cancer trying to eat away at his body, Scott Myers didn't know how much life he had left.
He hoped years, yet knew it might be only months.
But he knew what he wanted to do.
“He just wanted to coach football,” said Shelley Myers, Scott's wife. “You know that Tim McGraw song about the guy who has cancer and wants to go skydiving and all those other things? Scott just wanted to coach football.”
In particular, Myers had two coaching dreams. He wanted to coach at his hometown school of Chandler, the team he quarterbacked to the 1984 state championship. And he wanted the chance to coach his only son, Mason.
Eighteen months ago, the opportunity to achieve both goals — at the same place and the same time — presented itself when he was offered the job to be Chandler's head coach.
Through the summer and fall of 2012, Myers was living his bucket list every day of his life.
Though he died last November, his legacy lives on in Chandler. It lives through the legend of the hometown hero who came back to coach his old team 28 years later. And it lives through his son, who now holds the same position his father once did as the Lions' starting quarterback.
Win-Win Week kicked off across the state on Monday, and will continue through October at many schools. The event is geared to raise money for the fight against cancer, while bringing awareness to the disease and what young people can do to prevent it.
It's an effort close to the hearts of the Myers family after watching Scott struggle with the disease for over three years.
But he didn't often let the struggle show.
“He was the toughest guy I've ever known,” said Jason Paul, Myers' longtime friend who spent 11 years with him on coaching staffs.
The same words have been spoken by just about anyone who knew Myers, particularly during his cancer fight. His wife said them. His son said them. Don Gray, the Chandler quarterbacks coach in 1984 and the school's superintendent who hired Myers last year, said them.
During a practice while Myers was still coaching at Moore in 2011, he got a little too close to a lineman drill. An intense competitor, Myers always needed to be close to the action.
As one lineman was blocking another, one of them tumbled to the ground and rolled hard into Myers' feet.
“His back was killing him by that point, because the cancer had spread from his kidneys,” Paul said. “But he jumped up as good as he could jump up, and said ‘Let's go.' He was more concerned about doing things right with the football team than how he was feeling.”
Mason Myers is Chandler's starting quarterback as a sophomore this season.
Just like his father was. And his grandfather. And his great-grandfather.
Being the fourth generation of Myers boys to start at quarterback for the Lions as a sophomore, Mason takes pride in being an extension of the family's legacy. But he's particularly proud to be following in his father's footsteps.
In his first start this season, Mason led the Lions to a 35-7 win over Stroud in a huge rivalry game.
“My dad never beat Stroud in three years. Even the year they won state,” Mason said. “Beating Stroud is a big deal here. My dad said that game was as big as the state championship to them. He always told me I would do it.”
The Stroud game was Mason's first since Scott's death. Mason wanted to win it for his dad. And for his coach.
In Mason's mind and in his heart, the roles of father and coach were the same.
Just beyond the east end zone of Chandler's football field, a red and blue sign hangs that says “P4C.” It was made a few years ago in Moore, when Myers was coaching there.
The meaning — Play For Coach — and the sign itself came to Chandler when Myers took over. Mason asked to hang it up again this season. He kneels to pray in front of it before every home game.
“It just reminds me to play for him — as hard as he would and never let down,” Mason said. “Playing for my dad last year was my favorite year so far. I believe that's why we came back to Chandler. He knew he didn't have too much longer. He wanted to be in his hometown, and we came back so I could play my freshman year here.
“I've always thought of him as ‘Coach,' but it was different when he was actually my coach.”
That's the role Scott still holds for Mason. He's dad, too, but he's Coach.
Part of that stems from the fact that the family spent more time together at the football field than at home.
That includes Mason's older sister, Morgan, now 21. When she was still in elementary school, Morgan was already begging to be a manager for her dad's teams.
Once she was old enough, she took the job and ran with it. She spent her Saturdays washing uniforms or sewing up the ones that got ripped on Friday night. She kept inventory of all the equipment and typed up letters that Scott needed sent out to the team.
“She was right there with him as much as she could be,” Shelley Myers said. “Morgan and Mason both loved being at the football field with Scott.”
‘He runs just like his dad'
Gray, who retired from his superintendent's role last spring, was thrilled to have the chance to hire Myers at Chandler. But he enjoyed coaching him in high school just as much.
“He wasn't blessed with a lot of talent. He was just highly competitive. He was going to do anything he could to win the game,” Gray said. “He was the leader of our team, and when things got tense, everybody looked to Scott.
“He was a biter, scratcher, kicker, clawer, anything it takes, he was gonna win the game. He was the most competitive kid I ever coached.”
Myers' return to Chandler last year generated a lot of excitement in the community.
“He was kind of a hometown hero, the quarterback on our first-ever state championship team,” Gray said. “He was a hero to some of us who were around back then.
“People knew that he cared a lot about Chandler and a lot about winning. He was here two weeks and everybody had fallen in love with him.”
It's been a joy to Mason to hear people tell stories of his father as a player, and the impact he had on those who knew him then.
“At the games, I'll get called ‘Little Scotty' or ‘Little Myers,' and I don't know some of the people saying it, but I know they know who my dad was,” Mason said. “I love to hear the stories people tell all the time. I still have all of his old highlight tapes, and I watch those a lot — more than I watch my own team, probably. They're just fun to watch.
“Coach (Zach) Smith, our new coach, has been great in helping us carry on the program. The whole community has been very supportive.”
The Lion fans who remember Scott as a player see many of his qualities embodied in his son.
Mason is a few inches taller than Scott was, and has a better throwing arm.
“But when he runs — he runs just like his dad,” Gray said. “They have so many mannerisms that are the same. But the way he runs, for the people who remember seeing Scott play, that's the first thing they notice about Mason.”
Next season, Mason plans to take one more step in connecting himself and his father as players.
“He wore No. 11 when he played,” Mason said. “When we got here, another player already had No. 11, so I've been wearing 14. But that guy is a senior, so next year, I'll be able to have No. 11. It'll be really cool to wear the same number he did.”