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2022 Southern Arizona high school football preview: Santa Rita Eagles


Tom Joseph (left) is entering his 25th season as a head coach and longtime local coach Chuck McCollum is his top assistant (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

2A San Pedro

2021 record: 1-9 overall, 1-3 2A San Pedro (fourth)

Head coach: Tom Joseph, 171-97, second season at Santa Rita (25th overall as a head coach). He is the winningest active coach in Southern Arizona with 171 wins.  Joseph is a Salpointe Catholic alum who won a state championship coaching at Mesa Mountain View in 2002. He 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). He has four state championship game appearances (three with Mesa Mountain View and one with Superior).

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Santa Rita has noticed an increase in student involvement with the program (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Key returners:

  • WR/CB Dominic Waterhouse, 5-8, 150, Sr.
  • WR/CB Aston Suggs, Sr.
  • RB/LB Manuel Mero, 5-9, 125, Sr.
  • DE Joseph Paugh, 5-10, 160, Sr.
  • RB/LB Lennox Pye, 5-11, 202, Sr.

“It’s a great sport. Just have to get its work ethic. It’s life. That’s the best thing about it — football is life. Self-discipline is the key to succes in whatever profession you pick. So the sooner you get out and start working hard, the better you’re going to do in school and life (and) with your family. That’s the way it works.” — Joseph on Santa Rita’s growing participation numbers and work ethic in his second season.

“We have some learning we need to do but we can get there.” — Waterhouse

Drills have been spirited at Santa Rita (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Coaching staff:

  • Head coach/offensive coordinator/linebackers: Tom Joseph
  • Offensive and defensive lines: Chuck McCollum
  • Wide receivers/defensive backs: David Williams

Notes: Santa Rita’s participation numbers have increased to close to 30 after being closer to 20 last season when the Eagles transitioned from Richard Sanchez to Thomas Joseph. … Joseph is applying his coaching philosophy of helping the Santa Rita players mature to success in general, not just football. He is on campus all day as a special education aide. … The Eagles have not had a winning season since 2014, when they went 6-4. The school had to forfeit five of those wins, however, for using two ineligible players. The last year Santa Rita legitimately had a winning season was in 2009 when the Eagles finished 11-3 after losing in the state championship game under Jeff Scurran. … Santa Rita’s non-conference schedule includes three long trips against Heritage Academy Laveen (located in south-central Phoenix), Phoenix Cortez and Mountainside (in far northwest outskirts of Phoenix past Surprise).

Keep an eye out for: RB/LB Lennox Pye, a 5-foot-11, 202-pound senior, whose season last year was altered by a leg injury in the season opener against Tombstone. Pye has the physical attributes to be an impact player for Santa Rita.

SANTA RITA (0-5, 0-0)

Eagles compete in the 2A San Pedro. *Region game.
DateOpponentW/LOvrReg
8/26GlobeL, 40-00-10-0
9/2@ Heritage Academy LaveenL, 35-00-20-0
9/9Palo VerdeL, FFT0-30-0
9/16@ CortezL, FFT0-40-0
9/23@ MountainsideL, FFT0-50-0
9/30Tanque Verde*Season
10/7Willcox*Canceled
10/14@ Catalina*
10/21Bisbee*
10/28@ Tombstone*

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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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