Schedules for Southern Arizona schools are in place. Now, it’s a matter of waiting for local school district superintendents to give the go-ahead for contact drills and competition.
Buena, Pusch Ridge and Salpointe are the Class 3A-5A schools locally who have already started their 2020 schedule. The first day of games involving the remainder of Southern Arizona schools starts Oct. 30, as was detailed yesterday after regional representatives constructed the schedules.
The following are those schedules (special thanks to Southern Arizona Football’s Chris Kidney for allowing us to publish his graphics … Kidney’s son Caleb, a senior at Cienega, is one of the top receivers in Southern Arizona).
AMPHI enters its seventh season under coach Jorge Mendivil. Junior RB and kickoff returner Kiko Trejo is a player to watch. He rushed for 606 yards on 66 carries and also had a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
CDO coach Dustin Peace enters his 12th season as the Dorados’ coach with one of the top running backs in the state on his roster, senior Stevie Rocker, who was limited to six games last year because of an ankle injury suffered in the preseason. Starting quarterback Montana Neustadter also returns as does versatile senior Alex Maldonado.
CATALINA FOOTHILLS will be in Year 2 of the Darius Kelly era. Senior receiver Derrick Williams is a player to keep an eye on. Look for the Falcons to be the favorites in the 4A Gila, which includes Amphi, Douglas, Empire, Palo Verde and Rio Rico.
CHOLLA will welcome back coach Virgil Henderson, who coached the Chargers in 2014 and 2015.
CIENEGA, under sixth-year coach Pat Nugent, has 12 seniors who have Gabe Levy returns for his senior season after rushing for 982 yards last season. The defense should be solid again with six of the top 10 tacklers from last year returning, including senior linebacker Dillon Silva, who had a team-high 83 tackles.
DESERT VIEW will feature one of the most talented backfields not only locally but in the state with 1,000-yard rushers Serge Gboweiah and Carlos Alvarez, both to be juniors, returning for coach Robert Bonillas, who played tight end for Dick Tomey at Arizona. Gboweiah (1,404 yards rushing last year) and Alvarez (1,078) are the only 1,000-yard rushers returning locally. Desert View’s 1,000-yard rusher from 2018 — Jacob Ramirez — returns from a knee injury that sidelined him last year.
EMPIRE will be in its second year with George Kelly as coach. Leading rusher from last season, senior Yani Brown (668 yards on 70 carries) returns.
FLOWING WELLS will be in its second year with Scott Cortese as head coach. Senior running back Giovanni Walls rushed for 736 yards on 143 carries last season. Daunting schedule for Cortese, who has six road games and does not play at home until the fifth week of the season against Nogales.
IRONWOOD RIDGE is in its second season with James Hardy as coach. The Nighthawks’ quarterback Peyton Pelletier, a senior, played briefly in one game for Salpointe last year before transferring after it appeared Treyson Bourguet (sophomore last season) would get the starting quarterback role under former coach Dennis Bene.
MARANA coming off a 1-9 season under Louie Ramirez, who will be entering his third season, plays its “Battle for the Boot” rivalry game with a game at Mountain View on Nov. 6. The Marana schools have not played each other since 2014. Freshman QB Samuel Brown showed some promise with 809 yards passing last year, including 407 in the last three games. He will move to receiver this season.
NOGALES, under coach Jake Teyechea, opens against rival Rio Rico …
MOUNTAIN VIEW enters Year 2 of the Matt Johnson era after the Mountain Lions advanced to the 5A state playoffs following a 5-0 run through the 5A Sonoran. Keep an eye on senior quarterback Giovanni Ciaccio and tight end/defensive end Daylin Smith — two players who will advance to the next level. Johnson also has a solid core of 13 seniors. “The Battle of the Boot” rivalry game with Marana (Nov. 6) resumes after a six-year hiatus.
PUEBLO will be in transition from popular coach Brandon Sanders, also the school’s former athletic director and an Arizona football standout, to Jake Allen, a former standout at Ironwood Ridge. Allen’s father Dave Allen has been on the coaching staffs of Mountain View coach Matt Johnson since 2010. Jake comes from that coaching lineage. Sanders left Pueblo after six years as head coach to become an assistant with the Indoor Football League’s Tucson Sugar Skulls. Sanders took the moribund Pueblo program to great heights, going 41-22 with two region titles, three playoff appearances and two eight-win seasons.
PALO VERDE experienced a resurgence early last year under first-year coach Mike Wells, a longtime former assistant under Jeff Scurran at Catalina Foothills. The Titans were 3-3 six games into the season before losing their last four games.
RINCON/UNIVERSITY will have a new coach with Mike Strack heading back to Kansas after two productive years with the Rangers. Strack, the grandson of late Arizona athletic director Dave Strack, led Rincon/University to only its second winning season in the last 13 years last year with a 6-4 record. Former assistant Khyree Copeland takes over as head coach. Leading tackler from last season returns — senior LB Jacob Vasquez (81 tackles).
RIO RICO coach Kevin Kuhm will be in his second season after returning to the school of which he coached in 2012 and 2013. Kuhm coached at Nogales after leaving Rio Rico previously.
SABINO will be one of the top teams in Southern Arizona. Coach Ryan McBrayer has high-profile senior quarterback A.J. Skaggs returning along with senior linebacker Luke Thompson (tallied 102 tackles last year).
SAHUARITA coach Don Watt will enter his fourth season.
SAHUARO coach Scott McKee enters his 17th season of coaching after leading the Cougars to a 9-3 record last year. McKee will count on seniors Devyn Roberts at quarterback and Jamir Gasaway and Trevion Watkins in the backfield to keep the productivity of the offense going without graduated Izaiah Davis (1,083 yards on 129 carries). Gasaway and Watkins combined for 1,685 yards rushing last year. The defense’s two top tacklers — Miguel Yslas (32 tackles) and Watkins (31) return. Both are linebackers.
SUNNYSIDE coach Glenn Posey hopes to keep building the program of his alma mater back to prominence. He started a freshman quarterback — Deion Conde — last year and Conde threw for 1,604 yards while completing 114 of 218 pass attempts. The Conde-to-Anthony Galvez connection will be something to watch in 2020.
TUCSON’s Justin Argraves will be in his 10th season as head coach.
WALDEN GROVE has an established coach in Corey Noble which will help the Red Wolves try to recover from significant player losses from last year’s 9-2 team that won the 4A Gila with a 5-0 record. Gone are quarterback Alex Lopez (904 yards rushing and 2,332 passing yards completing 63.2 percent of his passes with 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions), twin brother Jordan (38 catches for 838 yards with 12 touchdowns) and leading tackler Rick Avelar III (162 tackles with 17.5 for loss). Sebastian Adamski tallied 130 tackles, including 11.5 for loss will be a senior captain at linebacker.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.