2021 Southern Arizona High School Football Preview: Valley Union

Tombstone transfer Jace Mitchell is Valley Union’s new quarterback (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

1A South: Valley Union

2020 record: 1-4, finished 0-3 in region play with some offensive shortcomings scoring only 32 points.

Head coach: Brandon Gilbreth, 1-4 at Valley Union and overall. He is Valley Union’s third coach in the last four years. The Herald/Review reported that when Gilbreth was hired before last season, he told the school administrators to take the coaching stipend that was offered to him and his staff and put it back into the program so there would be more money for the team.

Key returners:

  • RB/LB Cody Pena, 5-8, 175, Jr.
  • RB/LB Leonel Parra, 5-10, 175, Sr.
  • G/LB Luke Essary, 5-10, 180, Jr.
  • RB/LB Jesus Valenzuela, 5-10, 180, Sr.
  • LB/RB Kolby Gilbreth, 5-10, 175, Soph.
Brandon Gilbreth enters his second season as head coach at Valley Union with some optimism (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Coaching staff:

  • Head coach: Brandon Gilbreth
  • Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks: Skyler Hill
  • Defensive coordinator: Brandon Evans
  • Associate head coach/linemen: Matt Riesgo
  • Linemen/statistician: Dusty Vasquez
Valley Union is looking for its first winning season since 2017 (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Notes: Valley Union will count on two transfers who are seniors in 2021 — quarterback Jace Mitchell (Tombstone) and offensive guard/defensive end Travis Morin (Sabino). Morin has good size at 6-2 and 230 pounds and Mitchell (5-11 and 165 pounds) is also a touted baseball prospect. … Valley Union is in search of its first winning season since 2017, when the Blue Devils capped a four-year run of having winning records. Their record was 29-12 in that span. … Despite a 1-4 record in his first season as head coach last year, Gilbreth was named the 1A South Coach of the Year by his peers because of how he got the most out of the players he worked with. “It’s always nice when hard work is noticed,” Gilbreth told the Herald-Review. “I know it’s cliché, but this really was a team effort. This coaching staff worked hard, and we all worked really well together. Our No. 1 goal was to improve in the classroom, and I believe that was our best accomplishment. We had 100 percent eligibility for our last game.”




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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