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PODCAST: Interview with Cienega coach Justin Argraves

I was able to catch up with Cienega coach Justin Argraves, who led the Bobcats to a dramatic turnaround after a 1-3 start by reaching the 5A state quarterfinal round, for a podcast interview.

We talked about the success of Cienega’s season led by the senior running back-linebacker tandem of Cole McFarland and Ritchie McCormack and the development of younger players such as junior quarterback Brayden Cherry.

Argraves has built his own coaching identity in Southern Arizona following the footsteps of his father Michael Argraves, who coached softball, volleyball, track and basketball for 32 years at Tucson, Cholla and Santa Rita, before passing away in December 2016.

Justin often reflects on his father’s teaching and talks about spiritually calling on his dad for support in his greatest time of need.

“He loved what he did and he was probably the most competitive man I know,” Justin said of his dad in an earlier interview. “But his one thing that he always pushed was it’s more about trying to make a positive impact on these kids, long term, than the actual winning games.

“You start to get wrapped up in the winning and beating yourself up when something doesn’t go right and that would be the one good thing I could call him and he would calm me down a little bit. He would say, ‘Are the kids learning? Are they headed in the right direction? Are they going to be successful once they leave the program?’ That’s what matters.”

A note on the podcast interview here, unfortunately due to a technical difficulty, the last part of Argraves’ interview was not recorded.

Argraves in that time touched on Salpointe’s 5A state title game with Horizon on Friday night at Sun Devil Stadium.

Cienega is one of three teams that played both teams this year. Scottsdale Saguaro and Phoenix Pinnacle are the others.

Argraves lauded the offensive balance of both teams with quarterback Treyson Bourguet and Anthony Wilhite of Salpointe going against Horizon’s quarterback Skyler Partridge and running back Wesley Lambert. He also stated the defenses are similar with the aggressive fronts — Salpointe led by Joey Sumlin and Elijah Rushing and Horizon with safeties Kamron Faraji and Landon Smith crowding the line looking for sacks and to keep the offense guessing.

Argraves also commented on the valuable contributions of his senior placekicker Brynnley Lourenco and senior tight end Brody Kallman.

Lourenco, one of two female placekickers in Southern Arizona (CDO’s Nikki Basye was the other), handled kickoff duties for the Bobcats and she converted 38 point-after attempts and a field goal.

Kallman had 15 catches for 222 yards with two touchdowns.

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! 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, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, 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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