Here we go. In just 21 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 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 21: Abraham “Sonny” Karnofsky, Phoenix Union (1941): Arizona (1943)
Abe “Sonny” Karnofsky was an All-State running back for Phoenix Union and is a member of the school district’s inaugural Sports Hall of Fame. It seems appropriate that the old Phoenix Union High School was located at the current site of the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix Campus at Van Buren and 7th Street since Karnofsky would go on to become a Wildcat.
Unfortunately, Karnofsky passed away last January at the age of 92 and missed the Hall of Fame induction which took place last December. His death also went mostly unnoticed in Tucson.
Karnofsky didn’t play varsity football until his senior year at Phoenix Union and he went on to lead Arizona in yardage and scoring until he was sent to WWII with the Coast Guard and the Merchant Marines.
He was discharged 18 months later and was invited to try out for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1945. He went on to play for the Boston Yankees in 1946. Karnofsky’s greatest game in the NFL was his first. He intercepted two Green Bay Packer’s passes for touchdowns, leading the Eagles past the defending champions 28-21. The Yankees “purchased” Karnofsky in the off season.
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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