High school football coaching legend Tom Joseph, a Salpointe Catholic alum who won a state championship coaching at Mesa Mountain View in 2002, is close to becoming the new head coach at Santa Rita after gaining the recommendation of Tucson Unified School District director of interscholastics Dee Dee Wheeler.
His hire will make him the winningest active coach in Southern Arizona with 170 wins. Richard Sanchez, whose departure from Santa Rita to Tucson High created the vacancy, is next with 161, followed by Mica Mountain’s Pat Nugent with 138.
The final formality is gaining TUSD governing board approval. Santa Rita is in its second week of practice for the upcoming season. The Eagles are slated to host Tombstone on Aug. 27 in their opener.
Joseph, a coach since 1980 when he was an assistant at Rincon/University, is in position to take over the Eagles’ program after Sanchez left to Tucson High following a three-year stint at Santa Rita.
Joseph, 63, most recently was an assistant under Dennis Bene at Salpointe in 2019 after coaching at Sunnyside as part of Roy Lopez Jr.’s staff in 2018.
Joseph had three title-game appearances as Mesa Mountain View’s coach from 2002 to 2010. In his tenure there, he compiled a 92-27 record, including the 14-0 season in 2002.
He was also the head coach at Superior (1991-1995), Tempe Marcos de Niza (1996-2001) and Tempe Corona del Sol (2011-2013). His head coaching record of 23 years is 170-88 with four state championship game appearances (three with Mesa Mountain View and one with Superior).
2021 Southern Arizona High School Coaching ChangesCoaching changes made at Southern Arizona high schools going into the 2021 season. *Santa Rita's Tom Joseph is awaiting TUSD governing board approval.
|School||New Coach||Former Coach|
|Catalina||Greg McKinstry||Chris Barlow|
|Catalina Foothills||Daniel Sainz||Darius Kelly|
|Cienega||Justin Argraves||Pat Nugent|
|Eloy Santa Cruz||James Fitzgerald||Rishard Davis|
|Marana||Phillip Steward||Louis Ramirez II|
|Mica Mountain||Pat Nugent||New school|
|Sahuarita||Jake Price||Don Watt|
|Santa Rita||Tom Joseph*||Richard Sanchez|
|Tombstone||Dominik Bonilla||Jerome Rhoades|
|Tucson||Richard Sanchez||Justin Argraves|
Joseph was an assistant coach at Mesquite and Higley in the three years before coaching at Sunnyside in 2018.
“I’ve done all the things I’ve wanted to as a coach and I’ve been at schools where I’ve won,” Joseph said in a 2019 interview with AllSportsTucson.com. “I want to help these kids any way I can. I’ve always been about taking on challenges.”
Former Cienega assistant Chuck McCulloch, and former Amphi standout tight end Shea Heslep, who played with former Arizona quarterback Jim Krohn with the Panthers in the 1970s, are expected to join Joseph’s staff at Santa Rita.
After coaching at Rincon/University, Joseph became Salpointe’s wrestling coach and football defensive coordinator before taking over the job at Superior. He was offered the Salpointe head coaching job in 2001 but declined and became the head coach at Mesa Mountain View a year later. Bene was hired by the Lancers instead.
Joseph, a 1976 Salpointe graduate, is in the Lancers’ Hall of Fame as a football and wrestling standout.
Southern Arizona High School Football Coaching RecordsList of top Tucson-area high school football coaches and their overall career head coaching records. Compiled and researched by AllSportsTucson.com.
|Tom Joseph||Santa Rita||2A||170||88||0||.659||23|
|Pat Nugent||Mica Mountain||5A||138||57||0||.708||18|
|Matt Johnson||Mountain View||5A||120||67||0||.642||17|
|Robert Bonillas||Desert View||5A||35||68||0||.340||11|
|Kevin Kuhm||Rio Rico||4A||33||41||0||.446||8|
|Corey Noble||Walden Grove||4A||27||10||0||.730||4|
|Scott Cortese||Flowing Wells||5A||19||36||0||.345||6|
|Braden Davis||St. David||1A||16||16||0||.500||4|
|James Fitzgerald||Santa Cruz||2A||8||12||0||.400||2|
|Kent Middleton||Pusch Ridge||3A||8||2||0||.800||1|
|Ernie Ivy||San Manuel||2A||7||8||0||.467||2|
|James Hardy Jr.||Ironwood Ridge||5A||5||8||0||.385||2|
|Mike Wells||Palo Verde||4A||4||8||0||.333||2|
|Jay Dobyns||Tanque Verde||2A||3||0||0||1.000||1|
|Brandon Gilbreth||Valley Union||1A||1||4||0||.200||1|
|Daniel Sainz||Catalina Foothills||4A||0||0||0||.000||0|
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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. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District