A local high school football player last Friday night, not named Bijan Robinson, had the kind of performance that will be talked about southeast of Tucson for generations to come.
— Completed 6 of 8 passes for 117 yards with two touchdowns.
— Rushed for 358 yards on 36 carries with five touchdowns.
— Tallied 10 tackles and had an interception.
— Kicked off six times with two touchbacks.
“I just tried to do my best as the captain of the team to win that game,” Anton Jose said Tuesday while still being administered to with ice treatment four days after that grueling, dominating individual performance, in what was unfortunately for Baboquivari a 50-48 loss to 1A South rival St. David.
“I took that loss personally. It was upsetting. It came down to who scored last. But, I mean, we just have to move forward. We have this game Friday (against 1A South champion Duncan) and hopefully we can make the playoffs by beating that team.”
A victory over No. 6 Duncan (6-1) in the last regular season game tonight would assure Baboquivari (4-3) of its first winning season since 2003. The Warriors, ranked No. 13 among 1A teams, would likely make the state playoffs for the first time since 2001 with a win. The four region champs and eight at-large teams based on rankings get into the playoffs for 1A, which plays eight-man football. Baboquivari is right on the cusp of the playoffs, which for that program is monumental.
The Warriors, under new coach Pete Delgado, a mainstay as the baseball coach, are already assured their first non-losing season for only the second time in the last 14 years. A promising future is ahead with Jose being only one of seven seniors on the team.
The 194 enrollment of Baboquivari High School, located in the Tohono O’Odham reservation at Sells, is less than the number of players in each of the powerhouse Salpointe and Cienega football programs (freshman, junior varsity and varsity teams).
Delgado has 33 players on his team. That constitutes approximately one-third of all of the male students in the high school.
The 14:1 student-to-teacher ratio at the school is in the top 20 percentile in the state.
Jose, a full-blooded Tohono O’Odham native, attended half of his freshman year at Vista Grande High School at Casa Grande and became disenchanted with the school after sitting in some classes that had almost 40 students.
“There was too many people there; I was not happy there,” said Jose, a soft-spoken person. “So I transferred here and it’s good to be on the reservation. I love school. I love coming to school. In one of my classes, there are only 11 students.”
In addition to being the captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams, Jose is Senior Class President. He is placed on a pedestal in Sells, which has a population of about 3,000, as a role model for younger students to set their mind to achieve.
His GPA is approximately 3.50. He wants to study criminal justice and business in college.
“Anton is an outstanding three-sport athlete who has been recognized for his achievements in baseball, basketball and football. He is a hard worker who always gives 100 percent, not only during games, but at practice as well,” Delgado said. “However, what distinguishes Anton from other student athletes is his leadership style, which is to lead by example on the field, in the locker room, in the classroom and in our community. Anton is an exemplary student athlete at Baboquivari High School and I am proud to serve as his coach.”
Jose, 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, believes his career can continue in college playing baseball as a shortstop, third baseman or pitcher. He realizes he might play his last football game of his life tonight, which makes the evening that much more special.
He is fulfilled in his football career. He is not one who thinks of what-could-have-been had he stayed at Vista Grande and played at the Class 4A level. His value is not diminished by not playing big-school football.
He does not boast that because of his gaudy stats — 1,622 total offensive yards this season with 54 tackles and two interceptions — that he could have played for any school in the state.
“None of that is as nearly important as being the captain of the football team and having a big impact on the school,” said Jose, whose brother Zachary filled that same role last year and his cousin Lucas will do the same next season as a senior.
“Everybody looked up to my brother, so when he left, they have looked up to me. I have conversations with people about me being a role model and I accept that. I don’t try to be better than anybody else. There’s always somebody better. People tell me they look up to me and I respect it. It’s an honor and a responsibility I want to take on.”
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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.