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2022 Southern Arizona high school football preview: Cienega Bobcats


5A Southern: Cienega

2021 record: 8-4 overall, 5-0 5A Southern (first)

Head coach: Justin Argraves, 8-4 second season at Cienega and 64-54 in his 13th season overall . Argraves, a University of Arizona and Santa Rita High School graduate, was 53-43 in his 10 seasons at Tucson High before his hire at Cienega in February. His head coaching debut was in 2010 at Mountain View when he went 3-7. Argraves is the son of legendary Mike Argraves, who coached softball, volleyball, track and basketball for 32 years at Tucson, Cholla and Santa Rita before passing away in December 2016. Cholla named its auxiliary gym after Mike Argraves in a ceremony in June.

Cienega’s Justin Argraves is entering his 13th year as a head coach with previous stops at Mountain View and Tucson (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

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Key returners:

  • QB Brayden Cherry, 6-2, 180, Sr.
  • RB/LB Edgar Garcia, 5-7, 165, Sr.
  • WR/DB Jimmy Diaz, 6-2, 185, Jr.
  • WR/SS Keron Watson, 6-3, 190, Sr.
  • C/NG Landen Halle, 6-1, 272, Sr.
  • RB/LB Malik Ramirez, 5-10, 180, Sr.

“Love being out here in Vail. Love being out here at Cienega High School. It was a great experience for me to dive in with the community out here and everyone associated with the Cienega football program — now until when it got going back in 2001.” — Argraves on the transition from Tucson High to Cienega last year

“I feel like we have a lot more plays in. We have a lot more team chemistry from last year. I feel like overall we’re going to be a great team.” — Watson

“It’s been a whole bunch of work and I feel like we have the best coach in the weight room in the whole state of Arizona, if I’m being honest. He pushes us even if we have an off-day. Off-days don’t happen over here.” — Diaz on Cienega strength and conditioning coach Steve Schween

“I’ve just got to do my thing and make sure everybody else is doing it with me. I have a good surrounding group. I don’t think too much pressures rests on me. I just have to do what my coaches tell me to do and we’ll be great.” — Cherry on taking over a leadership role as the senior QB.

Coaching staff:

  • Head coach/defensive coordinator: Justin Argraves
  • Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks: Louis Nightingale
  • Running backs: Chris Blancarte
  • Wide receivers: Demencio Solorzano
  • Offensive line: Ryan Patterson
  • Tight ends: Jason Holley
  • Defensive backs: Roy Perkins
  • Linebackers: Bryan Lopez
  • Defensive line: Marcos Vasquez
  • Defensive ends: Gary Weiss
  • Kickers/punters: Kevin McDonald
  • Offensive assistant: Ovean Moore
  • Strength and conditioning: Steve Schween

Notes: Steve Schween has served as the strength and conditioning coach at Cienega since 2016. Many schools don’t have a strength and conditioning coach, especially one with an extensive tenure such as him. Carla Garrett at Salpointe is another experienced strength and conditioning coach in Southern Arizona … Cienega has not lost a region game since 2018. It went 5-0 in the 5A Southern last year and 2019 (the 2020 season was limited to two games because of COVID-19). In the last five seasons of full competition (dating to 2015), Cienega is 22-1 in region play. … Cienega coach Justin Argraves will face his former school — Tucson High — in the regular-season finale Nov. 10 at Cienega. Tucson High moved from 6A to 5A this school year and was placed in the 5A Southern. … Cienega has a significant void to fill with captains Ritchie McCormick and Cole McFarland exhausting their eligibility. McCormick and McFarland combined for 1,477 yards rushing on 229 carries with 19 touchdowns last season. The also combined for 132 tackles at the linebacker position.

Keep an eye out for: WR/SS Keron Watson is a good-sized, athletic and physical target for QB Brayden Cherry at 6-3, 190. Watson and fellow receiver Jimmy Diaz, a 6-2, 185-pound junior, should make their mark this season after the Bobcats’ top five receivers graduated.

CIENEGA (1-2, 0-0)

Bobcats compete in the 5A Southern. *Region game. Games at 7 p.m.
DateOpponentW/LOvrReg
9/2@ Catalina FoothillsW, 41-211-00-0
9/16MillenniumL, 42-141-10-0
9/23SalpointeL, 37-131-20-0
9/30@ Desert Edge
10/7Marana
10/14Buena*
10/21@ Ironwood Ridge*
10/28@ Desert View*
11/4@ Mountain View*
11/10Tucson*

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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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