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2021 Southern Arizona High School Football Preview: Sahuarita


Sahuarita opens the 2021 season at Thatcher on Friday (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

3A South: Sahuarita

2020 record: 0-3 in season before COVID-19 shut down the remainder of the season.

Head coach: Jake Price, first year of head coaching experience. He took over at Sahuarita after Don Watt departed after three seasons. A student at Northwestern State at Natchitoches, La., Price relocated to Tucson and attended Arizona to live closer to his mom’s family that resided in Douglas. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Education at Arizona in 2004 and was an assistant coach at the high school level since. Price has coached under the likes of Gary Minor, who made Ironwood Ridge a winning program from scratch after it opened in 2001, Andy Litten at Marana and Matt Johnson at Mountain View. Price left Tucson in 2018 because his wife Kiki’s employment took her to Dallas. He experienced the spectacle of high school football in Texas, serving as an assistant at Community High School there. A year later, he and Kiki and daughter Cyra were forced to move back to Tucson because of health reasons within his family.

Key returners:

  • QB/FS Alejandro Valdez, Sr.
  • RB/LB Aramis Alvarado, Sr.
  • TE/DE Brian Boyer, Sr.
  • DT/OT Malcolm Williams, Soph.
  • DT/OT Levi Pannell, Sr.
  • FB/FS Brady Radovich, Sr.
  • RB/LB Adam Gonzales, Sr.
Jake Price is in his first year as a head coach (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Coaching staff:

  • Head coach/offensive coordinator: Jake Price
  • Defensive coordinator: Jeff Bollnow
  • Offensive coordinator: Carlos Guerrero
  • Defensive line: Mario Elias
  • Consultant: Paul Schmidt Jr.
  • Wide receivers: Terrence Bryant
  • Stats: Burton Tingle
Jeff Bollnow was a successful defensive coordinator at Cienega in 2019; he now fills that role at Sahuarita (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Notes: Schmidt’s son was a coaching legend who played two years at Arizona under Jim Young as an offensive line. Arizona went 9-2 in 1974 and 1975. Schmidt served as head coach at Marana (1980-83) and Marana Mountain View (2007-09). … Pannell is also an accomplished wrestler. He finished third at 220 pounds in the 19U division of the Supreme Gladiator event in Las Vegas in May. … Bollnow comes to Sahuarita from Cienega, where he served as defensive coordinator under Pat Nugent in 2019. He is also the son of legendary local high school referee Kirby Bollnow. During Thursday’s walkthrough in preparation for Friday’s opener at Thatcher, Bollnow alerted the Mustangs that every player can signal for a fair catch, not only the returner. It pays to be a ref’s son. … Tingle, a teacher of 48 years who retired in 2014, is an honorary assistant coach with the Mustangs who has been around the program as a statistician for 50 years (starting there in 1972). … Sahuarita’s game with Thatcher is a 3A South game. It will mark the first time the Mustangs have played Thatcher since 1973, when the Mustangs won 19-0. That capped a consecutive four-year run playing against each other. The series is tied 2-2. … Price said the Mustangs are heavy on sophomores (10 are on the roster) with lineman Malcolm Williams a standout to watch. … Former QB Gabe Elias is off to college, wrestling at Dixie State in Utah. Senior Alejandro Valdez, who was out last season with a broken collarbone, is the new starting QB who says he likes to “sling” the ball. Also can move in the pocket.

Schedule:

(AZPREPS365)

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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

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