2021 Southern Arizona High School Football Preview: Buena

5A Southern: Buena

2020 record: 2-2 in season cut short by COVID-19. The Colts did not a play a home game last year because of scheduling conflicts caused by the pandemic.

Head coach: Joe Thomas, 32-52, 10th year overall (including 2012-14 at his alma mater Tombstone) and 21-33, seventh year at Buena. Thomas lost the first 21 games of his career at Buena, but the community and administration stood by his side and he has gone 21-12 since including an 8-3 season in 2019 in which the Colts reached the state playoffs. It was the Colts’ first postseason appearance since 2013 and only their third since 1993. After graduating from Tombstone in 2002, Thomas went on to Pima Community College to play football under Jeff Scurran and run track. He earned a track scholarship to NAU and ran there until 2006.

Key returners:

  • WR/CB Rashaud Armstrong, 6-2, 185, Sr.
  • WR/CB Keyon Taylor, 5-10, 170, Sr.
  • QB/LB/TE William Stemler, 6-2, 225, Sr.
  • WR/CB David Coronado, 5-10, 170, Sr.
  • RB Austin Cox, 5-11, 180, Sr.
  • OLB Maddox Cox, 5-8, 175, Jr.
  • RB Jelani Brown, 5-9, 180, Sr.
  • OLB Rhubin Harris, 6-1, 195, Sr.
  • OT/DE Toafia Fruen, 6-2, 260, Jr.
  • G/DT Jadon Steward, 6-0, 235, Sr.
Buena coach Joe Thomas flanked by (left to right) Keyon Taylor, Jadon Steward, William Stemler and Jelani Brown (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Coaching staff:

  • Head coach/running backs/defensive backs: Joe Thomas
  • Defensive coordinator/defensive line: Lawrence Boutte
  • Offensive line: Adam Fuhriman
  • Inside linebackers/quarterbacks: Matt Keough
  • Outside linebackers/wide receivers: Jalen Hampton
  • Special teams: Mike Tomooka
Buena senior receiver Keyon Taylor (Clea McCaa/Special to AllSportsTucson.com)

Notes: The seventh year of the Thomas era brings some uncertainty at quarterback, but he said he feels comfortable starting the year playing it by committee. Nash Moore, a freshman, will likely see playing time. … Thomas hopes whoever is behind center — it could also be LB/TE William Stemler at 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds — can get the ball consistently to wideouts Keyon Taylor and Rashaud Armstrong. Taylor and Armstrong are two of the best receivers in the state with college potential. Taylor had 12 catches for 296 yards and two touchdowns in Buena’s four games last season. Armstrong caught eight passes, five of them for touchdowns, for 165 yards. … Stemler is another true college prospect with his size. He is getting recruiting attention from FCS program Drake. … Running backs Tory Walters and Isaac Benoit have exhausted their eligibility, opening the door for senior Jelani Brown for more carries and yards. He rushed for 205 yards on 32 carries. Brown said he is aiming for a 1,000-yard season with at least 40 touchdowns. Lofty goal but he wants to aim high. … OT Dominic Avant has also used his eligibility and is now at the University of Sioux Falls with Benoit, which means G/DT Jadon Stewart becomes one of the leaders on the line for the Colts. He will be a three-year starter.

Buena coach Joe Thomas (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)




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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