Legendary Richard Sanchez offered Tucson High football coaching job

Richard Sanchez, Southern Arizona’s dean of coaches with 21 years of head coaching experience, has been offered the Tucson High School football coaching job, according to multiple sources.

Sanchez is scheduled to meet with Tucson Unified School District Head of Interscholastics Dee-Dee Wheeler this week and also must go through the formality of the TUSD governing board approving the hire.

Tucson High started searching for a head coach to replace Justin Argraves, the Badgers’ coach for the last 10 years, after Argraves, who lives in Vail, was hired by Cienega in February. That move was made after the Bobcats’ head coach, Pat Nugent, took the job at Vail School District sister school Mica Mountain.

After coaching Sunnyside’s wrestling program to state titles from 1990-94, Sanchez took the Blue Devils’ football program back to the dominance of the Paul Petty days of the 1970’s and early 1980’s.

Sanchez’s career win total of 161 games, with a record of 161-77, is the most among active coaches in Southern Arizona, topping Nugent (138-57), Determan (134-82-1) and Mountain View’s Matt Johnson (120-67).

In an interview with AllSportsTucson.com last year, when told he leads active local coaches in victories, Sanchez said with a laugh, “Actually, I don’t know how many wins that is … All I know is that we played in the state championship game four times at Sunnyside and we won two of them (2001 and 2003).”

The Blue Devils reached the postseason 14 times in his 18 seasons as head coach. In the five years before Sanchez became the head coach, Sunnyside went 27-26 and won only one postseason game.

His 21 years as a head coach makes him the dean of local high school football coaches. Benson’s Chris Determan is next at 20 years followed by Nugent with 18 years.

Sanchez was hired by Santa Rita to be its head coach in 2018 and his three-year record with the Eagles was 3-19, indicative of the difficulty to coach that program on the city’s eastside. He was also named the school’s athletic director at Santa Rita before this school year.

The Eagles’ football program was in decline before Sanchez took over due to dwindling enrollment figures because of the emergence of nearby Vail schools Cienega and Empire and other high schools such as Palo Verde and Sahuaro close by.

The Eagles were reclassified from 3A to 2A in 2018 because of an enrollment of less than 400 after having more than 1,000 students less than 10 years ago.

Tucson High is the only Southern Arizona football team that is classified at 6A, which means the Badgers often travel to Phoenix to play schools in Mesa and Tempe.

Southern Arizona High School Football Coaching Records

List of top Tucson-area high school football coaches and their overall career head coaching records. Compiled and researched by AllSportsTucson.com.
CoachCurrent SchoolClassWLTPct.Years
Richard SanchezTucson2A161770.67621
Pat NugentMica Mountain5A138570.70818
Chris DetermanBenson2A134821.61820
Matt JohnsonMountain View5A120670.64217
Jorge MendivilAmphi4A107860.55419
Dustin PeaceCDO4A88420.67712
Scott McKeeSahuaro4A82940.46617
Rishard DavisSanta Cruz2A58210.7347
Chris VertreesBisbee2A58570.50411
Justin ArgravesCienega6A56500.52811


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.

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