Southern Arizona HS All-Star Showcase begins with elation over football again

The first day of practice for the Southern Arizona High School Football Showcase at Tucson High School on Monday night “felt like things were normal again,” according to former Salpointe tight end Fernando Torres.

Normal, in terms of playing football again with less restrictions because of COVID-19 and having the chance to be around other local seniors hungry for one last game at the high school level.

The pandemic robbed many of them a chance to play a full season last fall, with some not playing more than two or three games following those Phase I and II protocol restrictions.

Dennis Bene gives instructions to his Red team of the Southern Arizona High School All-Star Showcase (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Nothing was normal about the array talent on the field — players and coaches — preparing for the game, which will kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday at Tucson High. Spectators will be allowed in to a limit of 2,200 with free tickets available at the gate.

The head coaches are Nemer Hassey, who started the powerhouse at Cienega, of the Blue and Dennis Bene, legendary Salpointe coach, of the Red.

The assistants for both sides include the likes of Mica Mountain’s Pat Nugent, Buena’s Joe Thomas, CDO’s Dustin Peace, Sahuaro’s Scott McKee, Cienega’s Justin Argraves, Mountain View’s Matt Johnson, former coach and Tucson High standout Will Kreamer, former Marana coach Louie Ramirez (now a Scottsdale Saguaro assistant), former Sabino coach and now Mica Mountain assistant principal for interscholastics Jay Campos, Tucson Sugar Skulls offensive line coach and Mica Mountain assistant Al Alexander, Tanque Verde’s Jay Dobyns and members of his staff, including son Jack, Desert View’s Robert Bonillas, Salpointe running back coach Zach Neveleff and Bene’s brother Rocco, a longtime assistant at Salpointe.

The following are some sights and sounds of the first day of practice, including a heartfelt speech by Argraves to the players concerning the passing last month of his former player at Tucson High, Julian Barcelo.

The Barcelo family was on hand to hear organizer Del Arvayo of the Arizona Bowl tell the players and cheerleaders that a game jersey will be presented in Barcelo’s name to the top teammate of the Red and Blue teams and the spirit line.

Snippets of practice:

Walden Grove PK Adrian Alvarado:

Pusch Ridge RB Evan Lovett:

Argraves’ speech to the players after practice and his comments following that:

Mountain View TE Kobe Howell, son of former Arizona player Glenn Howell, now the strength and conditioning coach for the Sugar Skulls:

Mica Mountain coach Pat Nugent:

Salpointe Catholic TE Fernando Torres:

Twin Pelletier brothers Parker DB from Salpointe and Preston QB from Ironwood Ridge:


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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