Here we go. In just 45 days, the University of Arizona will take on BYU on Saturday, Sept. 3 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. We will be honoring and listing 50 of the greatest high school football players from the state of Arizona (not just Southern Arizona) who went on to play for the Wildcats from today until kickoff.
This list honors high school achievements only. Some went on to have great careers with Arizona and in the pros but many did not. Some still hold Arizona high school records like our first honoree, Ted Bland.
This list is not a countdown from No. 50 to No. 1. That would be a nearly impossible task. Again, it’s not a list of the 50 greatest players with the greatest impact at Arizona. That list is for another day.
Day 45: Mitch Hoopes, Benson 1971: Arizona 1971-75
A halfback and punter at Benson, Mitch Hoopes accepted a scholarship to punt for the Wildcats. It was still a time when kids from small schools were able to land scholarships playing for a major university.
By 1973, Hoopes was the top-rated punter in the country.
He went on to punt for the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl X against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He also worked for the Chargers, Oilers, Cardinals, Lions and Eagles. Benson High School was awarded a Golden Football last season as part of the NFL’s Super Bowl celebrations.
Hoopes is also a basketball legend at Benson. He was a starter in the Arizona State Coaches Association All-Star game in 1971, playing for the South along with Jim Ferguson of Sahuaro.
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Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here, on AZPreps365.com and on the pages of the Vail Voice and the Tanque Verde Voice. Contact Andy Morales at AMoralesMyTucson@yahoo.com