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2022 Southern Arizona high school football preview: Sunnyside Blue Devils


5A Sonoran: Sunnyside

2021 record: 6-4 overall, 2-3 5A Sonoran (fourth)

Head coach: Thomas Romack,  first year at Sunnyside and overall. Romack takes over for Glenn Posey, who announced a retirement from coaching during the summer shortly after his father passed away. Romack was the defensive coordinator for Sunnyside since the 2019 season. Romack, a 2013 graduate of Buena High School, was a standout at linebacker for the Colts who went on to play for Pima College in 2013 and 2014 before playing at Dakota State in 2015 and 2016.

Sunnyside’s Thomas Romack, 27, is entering his first year as a head coach (Sunnyside photo)

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Key returners:

  • QB Deion Conde, 5-7, 145, Sr.
  • FS/WR Mekhi Gaskin, 6-0, 155, Sr.
  • SS/FB Carlos Madrid, 5-8, 180, Sr.
  • FS/WR Anthony Martinez, 6-1, 150, Sr.
  • RB/SB Samario Garcia, 5-9, 143, Jr.
  • LB/DE Anthony Perez, 5-8, 182, Sr.
  • G/DE/NT Frank Dicochea, 5-9, 200, Jr.
  • QB/WR/CB Diego Arellano, 5-9, 145, Jr.
  • SS Jose Ramirez, 5-9, 175, Sr.

“A lot of responsibility is going to come as a head coach. (Former coach Glenn) Posey always told me that, ‘Get ready for when it’s your time.’ I thought I was ready having to learn on the fly and I feel ready now. I feel more comfortable doing things working on the offense, defense, special teams and managing the field and classroom stuff. The kids have been great about all of that, so that’s been nice.” – Romack, who will be calling plays on offense and coaching the defense after being the defensive coordinator at Sunnyside the previous three years.

“I like how we always come together as brothers and we also always work hard. Even when people aren’t working hard, there’s always someone there to push them. ” — Conde

“I have to play my hardest and bring people with me so they can bring others with them and then just play hard and execute.” — Gaskin on his leadership role as a senior

“He’s really cool. He’s tough, a lot of running. Tough, hard-nosed football.” — Madrid on what it’s like to play for Romack

Coaching staff:

  • Head coach: Thomas Romack
  • Assistant coach: Orlando Ramos
  • Assistant coach: Tony Reed

Notes: QB Deion Conde passed for 1,604 yards as a freshman in 2019, completing 114 of 218 pass attempts. In the one game in the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, Conde completed 20 of 26 passes for 286 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions against Flowing Wells. His 1,220 passing yards last season as a junior gives him 3,110 for his career. He has completed 237 passes out of 431 attempts (54.9 percent) with 36 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. … Glenn Posey was 46-39 in nine seasons at his alma mater and 59-46 in 11 years overall (two years at Flowing Wells) before retiring from coaching. … Sunnyside plays its first four games away from campus in order to allow for enough time for a new synthetic turf to be installed. The home opener is scheduled for Oct. 7 against Tucson High. … The Blue Devils’ first four opponents — Desert View, Cactus Shadows, Canyon View and Ironwood Ridge — all qualified for the 5A state playoffs last season. … FS/WR Mekhi Gaskin is a cousin of Myles Gaskin, a former Washington Huskies running back who is now with the Miami Dolphins. Mekhi mentioned that he has learned some training techniques from his cousin.

Keep an eye out for: FS/WR Anthony Martinez, a 6-foot-1 and 150-pound senior who was one of Southern Arizona’s interception leaders with four last season — all by the midway point of the season. He did not play the last five games because of an injury.

SUNNYSIDE (1-2, 0-0)

Blue Devils compete in the 5A Sonoran. *Region game. +Game at Kino North Stadium. Games at 7 p.m.
DateOpponentW/LOvrReg
9/1Desert View+W, 16-61-00-0
9/9@ Cactus ShadowsL, 17-141-10-0
9/23@ Canyon ViewL, 17-01-20-0
9/30@ Ironwood Ridge
10/7@Tucson
10/14Rincon/University*+
10/21@ Marana*
10/28Cholla*
11/4Nogales*
11/11@ Flowing Wells*

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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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