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2022 Southern Arizona high school football preview: Mica Mountain Thunderbolts


4A Kino: Mica Mountain

2021 record: 3-3 in six freelance games because the Thunderbolts were in their first varsity season.

Head coach: Pat Nugent, 3-3 second season at Mica Mountain, 141-60, 20th season overall. Nugent has the second-most wins among active coaches in Southern Arizona trailing only Santa Rita’s Tom Joseph (171-98 in his 25th season overall). Nugent is an Arizona grad who served as a student manager with the Wildcats when the late Dick Tomey was head coach. His head coaching stints include at Flowing Wells, CDO, Pima College and Cienega.

Pat Nugent is entering his 20th season of being a head coach at the high school level in Southern Arizona (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

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Key returners:

  • QB Jayden Thoreson, 5-10, 160, Soph.
  • QB/S Aaron Rodarte, 5-10, 150, Sr.
  • RB/LB Kaspen Colbert, 6-2, 220, Sr.
  • WR/S Jonah Garcia, 5-7, 150, Jr.
  • TE/LB Kason Colbert, 6-1, 220, Jr.
  • LB Octavio Vidrio, 5-10, 180, Jr.
  • WR/S Devin Hayward, 5-10, 160, Jr.
  • TE/LB Jacob Flores, 6-0, 180, Sr.
  • RB/NT Jacob Ford, 5-8, 185, Sr.
  • RB/S JoJo Thornwell, 5-7, 185, Soph.
  • RB/CB Zach Brent, 5-8, 170, Sr.

“We’re still a new school. We’re still developing. We have a senior class of 10 guys and we have two sophomore quarterbacks right now (Jayden Thoreson and Caleb Cherry). This is a brand new school. We have a lot of young kids. We’ve got some talent and we’re excited about the direction of where the program is going. That started from last year developing our kids with some of the games we played (especially against Salpointe and Mesa Mountain View).” — Nugent

“I feel really confident. All of our teammates have been getting stronger in the weight room and we’ve been pushing each other in practice. I hope that we continue to grow and throughout the season we keep getting stronger and move forward.” — Kaspen Colbert

“We’re slowly starting to mature. We’re still pretty young but for the most part we’re starting to mature and find our own identity. … That leadership isn’t quite where it needs to be yet. I played on a very good Sahuaro team my freshman year (in 2019) where you see those leaders. I’m trying to build that here to have that great success. I think we’re closer than what people think.” — Zach Brent

“We’re looking really good. I see us making it to state, winning it. Down to our line, all the way to our skills, we’re looking really good.” – Thornwell

Coaching staff:

  • Head coach/offensive coordinator: Pat Nugent
  • Defensive coordinator/linebackers: Brett Darling
  • Defensive line: W.T. Jeffries
  • Wide receivers: Zach Ortiz
  • Safeties: Ian Mattix
  • Tight ends: Garrett Roznovsky
  • Running backs; Rode Santa Maria

Notes: The Colbert brothers — Kaspen and Kason — from Kentucky made quite an impression in their first year in Southern Arizona after playing high school football in SEC country. Kaspen, a senior, led the Thunderbolts in rushing with 295 yards on 32 carries in the team’s six-game schedule. Kason led Mica Mountain with 53 tackles, six for loss. … QB Caleb Cherry, a sophomore, is the younger brother of Cienega senior QB Brayden Cherry. The two Vail schools do not play each other this season. … The Thunderbolts’ five Freedom-game opponents went a combined 41-19 last season — Ironwood Ridge, Bradshaw Mountain, Poston Butte, Catalina Foothills and Salpointe. A couple of 4A Kino games of intrigue with Mica Mountain — Oct. 28 at Pueblo (the schools wear identical colors of light blue, black and white) and the showdown Nov. 11 against CDO at Mica Mountain (Dorados coach Dustin Peace played for Pat Nugent at Flowing Wells and coached with him at CDO). … Mica Mountain finished No. 17, one spot from qualifying for the 4A state playoffs with only six games played. The Thunderbolts originally had only two varsity games scheduled but a 55-14 win over Salpointe’s junior varsity team early in the season prompted Nugent to try to challenge his team more. … Mica Mountain’s recent intrasquad scrimmage drew a capacity crowd. During the festivities, the school’s new mascot, a warthog, was unveiled. The warthog ties into the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II¬†fighter plane used by the United States Air Force that is nicknamed “Warthog.”

Keep an eye out for: RB/S JoJo Thornwell, a stout 5-7 and 185 pounds as only a sophomore. Thornwell undoubtedly will get more opportunities to run the ball after rushing 27 times for 125 yards as a freshman last year. One of those runs was an 84-yard touchdown against Amphi.

MICA MOUNTAIN (1-3, 0-0)

Thunderbolts compete in the 4A Kino. *Region game. Games at 7 p.m.
DateOpponentW/LOvrReg
9/1@ Ironwood RidgeW, 28-01-00-0
9/9Bradshaw MountainL, 41-141-10-0
9/15@ Poston ButteL, 40-01-20-0
9/23Catalina FoothillsL, 29-261-30-0
10/7@ Salpointe
10/14Empire*
10/21Douglas*
10/28@ Pueblo*
11/4@ Vista Grande*
11/11CDO*

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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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