Veteran coach Tom Joseph recommended to lead Santa Rita’s program

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.

Tom Joseph

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 Changes

Coaching changes made at Southern Arizona high schools going into the 2021 season. *Santa Rita's Tom Joseph is awaiting TUSD governing board approval.
SchoolNew CoachFormer Coach
CatalinaGreg McKinstryChris Barlow
Catalina FoothillsDaniel SainzDarius Kelly
CienegaJustin ArgravesPat Nugent
Eloy Santa CruzJames FitzgeraldRishard Davis
MaranaPhillip StewardLouis Ramirez II
Mica MountainPat NugentNew school
Sahuarita Jake PriceDon Watt
Santa RitaTom Joseph*Richard Sanchez
TombstoneDominik BonillaJerome Rhoades
Tucson Richard SanchezJustin 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 Records

List of top Tucson-area high school football coaches and their overall career head coaching records. Compiled and researched by AllSportsTucson.com.
Tom JosephSanta Rita2A170880.65923
Richard SanchezTucson6A161770.67621
Pat NugentMica Mountain5A138570.70818
Chris DetermanBenson2A134821.61820
Matt JohnsonMountain View5A120670.64217
Jorge MendivilAmphi4A107860.55419
Dustin PeaceCDO4A88420.67712
Scott McKeeSahuaro4A82940.46617
Justin ArgravesCienega5A56500.52811
Glenn PoseySunnyside5A53420.55810
Robert BonillasDesert View5A35680.34011
Kevin KuhmRio Rico4A33410.4468
Joe ThomasBuena5A30510.3709
Ryan McBrayerSabino3A29100.7444
Corey NobleWalden Grove4A27100.7304
Scott CorteseFlowing Wells5A19360.3456
Brian VertreesBisbee2A18210.4624
Eric HjalmarsonWillcox2A1790.6543
Braden DavisSt. David1A16160.5004
Jake TeyecheaNogales5A6140.3003
James FitzgeraldSanta Cruz2A8120.4002
Virgil Henderson Cholla5A8240.2504
Kent MiddletonPusch Ridge3A820.8001
Eric RogersSalpointe5A710.8571
Ernie IvySan Manuel2A780.4672
James Hardy Jr.Ironwood Ridge5A580.3852
Pete DelgadoBaboquivari1A440.5002
Mike WellsPalo Verde4A480.3332
Jay DobynsTanque Verde2A3001.0001
Hunter LongDouglas4A380.2732
Brandon GilbrethValley Union1A140.2001
George KellyEmpire5A1100.0912
Jake AllenPueblo4A010.0001
Khyree CopelandRincon/University5A020.0001
Dominik BonillaTombstone2A000.0000
Greg McKinstryCatalina2A000.0000
Jake PriceSahuarita3A000.0000
Daniel SainzCatalina Foothills4A000.0000
Phillip StewardMarana5A000.0000


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

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