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Ex-grid star, Challengers coach Maurer dies

A former NFL offensive lineman who played in two Super Bowls, Andy Maurer enjoyed quite a run in the sport of football for more than 50 years, first as a player and later as a coach who founded the Cascade Christian High program.

Still, it was beyond the gridiron that Maurer may have had the most impact, and that’s something the former Prospect High standout took the most pride in developing.

It’s that latter quality that serves as comfort for Maurer’s family and friends after Maurer passed away early Sunday morning following a prolonged battle with cancer. He was 67.

“He had a huge impact on me, I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Andy,” said current Cascade Christian football coach Jon Gettman, who played for the Challengers and later took over for Maurer in 2010 after five years as his assistant. “The experience I had playing football for coach Maurer is why I coach football. I never enjoyed it until I got to high school and what Andy taught and preached is what drew me to it.”

“He did a great job as far as teaching me the game,” added Gettman, “but far more importantly, he taught what the game means and just the special nature of it and made a huge impact on me in what I do day to day as a young man in general.”

Maurer, who was born Sept. 30, 1948 in Silverton, still stands as one of the all-time greats to ever come out of Prospect High, earning All-American status in football and basketball to go with track and field marks. He later went on to an acclaimed career as an offensive lineman at the University of Oregon before being chosen 64th overall with a third-round selection in the NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons.

Maurer played four years with the Falcons, had two stints with the Minnesota Vikings and one year apiece with the New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos. He was a starting guard for Minnesota in Super Bowl IX, won 16-6 by the Pittsburgh Steelers, and for Denver in Super Bowl XII, won 27-10 by the Dallas Cowboys.

“He started two of the first 12 Super Bowls, and that’s not bad for an eight-man football player coming from Prospect,” said Marty Maurer, the youngest of Andy and Jean Maurer’s three children. “Even talking about some of his accomplishments now still makes your jaw drop.”

Andy Maurer founded the Cascade Christian football program in 1992 and ultimately amassed a 100-78 record with the Challengers in the 3A to 1A classifications.

The Challengers reached the state playoffs six times under his direction, winning the Class 2A crown in 2006 before the school moved up to the 3A level. His teams reached the semifinal round in three of his final four seasons and enjoyed unbeaten regular seasons in 2005 and ‘09.

It was Maurer who recommended Gettman as his successor, and the current coach could not say enough about the support he received along the way from his mentor.

“He built the program at Cascade Christian and really I was just blessed to take what he did and continue on,” said Gettman, who led the Challengers to the 3A state crown in 2013 after a runner-up showing in 2012. “He didn’t have a field to start off with at all and he took that program and just continued to work on it and work on it. I’ll miss him. He’s always the best storyteller there was, so I’ll miss talking to him.”

A funeral service is set for 1 p.m. Friday at Applegate Christian Fellowship, 7590 Highway 238 in Applegate. Maurer is survived by his mother Halie, wife Jean, brothers Mike, Dick, Ken and Ron and sister Lori, children Cynthia, Jolene and Martin and several grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

“He was a man of integrity,” said Dick Maurer. “Very strong. Very giving. Very loving.”

“He was the oldest of the family,” he added, “so in our family dynamic, after my father passed away, he was the head and he always would do anything to help anybody. He would be there to lend a hand and just had good strong morals. He just was a good brother, a good friend, a good husband, father and grandfather. Even when he couldn’t get around very well or sit in the bleachers, he would drive his pickup as close to the ballfield as possible and sit and watch his grandkids’ games.”

While most focus on Andy Maurer’s playing days or his ability to develop a winning football program at Cascade Christian, Marty Maurer said his father saw much more than X’s and O’s when it came to those in his program.

“He didn’t just believe that he was training football players,” he said, “he believed he was training husbands, fathers, future business owners and leaders, and he took that seriously as an important investment in the lives of the players he coached. Everyone has shared stories in the last little bit about how they’ve had their lives touched by my dad beyond football and it’s pretty cool to hear that.”

Andy Maurer was a fixture at annual Civil War gatherings, lending great perspective to the Oregon and Oregon State rivalry and more than his fair share of riveting stories of what it was like to play for the Ducks and later in the NFL. His allegiance moved to the Beavers when son Marty played in Corvallis — saying support of his son outweighed any prior attachments — but returned to his Ducks after Chip Kelly took over for Mike Bellotti.

“With all the things my dad accomplished personally in everything, all he ever cared about with me when I played for him was my effort and my attitude,” said Marty Maurer. “He never said score this or do that and this is how you do it … I knew if I gave my best effort, my dad would be proud. I never felt any pressure from him in any year, and that pretty much sums up the way he coached all of his players.”

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry