2021 Southern Arizona High School Football Preview: Rincon/University

Khyree Copeland comes from a successful career as a college football running back and prides himself on being an educator (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

5A Sonoran: Rincon/University

2020 record: 0-2 before COVID-19 protocol cut the season short.

Head coach: Khyree Copeland, 0-2 second season at Rincon/University and overall. Copeland became the Rangers’ coach before the 2020 season after Mike Strack left after a successful two-year run. Strack, a grandson of late Arizona athletic director Dave Strack, moved back to Kansas (where was before taking the Rincon job in 2018) to be an assistant coach at powerhouse Shawnee Mission Mill Valley. Copeland, originally from Jacksonville (Fla.) before excelling as a running back at Concordia College of Chicago, joined Strack’s staff in 2018. Upon his departure, after coaching Rincon to a 6-4 record in 2019, Strack recommended Copeland to replace him. The winning record in 2019 was Rincon’s first since 2012, when current assistant Nate Gahn led the Rangers to a 6-4 record before becoming an assistant at Pima College.

Key returners:

  • QB Gabe Lopez, 5-11, 153, Jr.
  • DE/T Daikwan Harrison, 6-0, 195, Sr.
  • WR/DB J.P. Schicker, 6-0, 185, Jr.
  • WR Dylan Provencher, 6-0, 180, Jr.
  • DB/WR Sebastian Cooke, 5-10, 165, Jr.
Rincon/University coaches are hopeful Gabe Lopez (12) can become an effective leader at quarterback in his junior season (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Coaching staff:

  • Head coach/offensive coordinator: Khyree Copeland
  • Defensive coordinator: Bruce Hubbard
  • Wide receivers/linebackers: Nate Gahn
  • Offensive line/defensive line: Mark Buckley
  • Linebackers/running backs: Noah Silva
  • Assistant: Burt Oxnam
  • Assistant: George Romero
Rincon’s linemen are showing some physicality under assistant Mark Buckley (photos by Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Notes: Copeland said interest in Rincon’s student body to come out for football increased from about 30 last year amid the uncertainty of COVID-19 to almost 80 this season. … Copeland, Gahn and Buckley were part of Rincon’s staff under Strack that coached the Rangers to a 6-4 record. … Gahn was the head coach at Rincon/University from 2009 to 2012 and the Rangers improved each year: 1-9 in 2009, 3-7 in 2010, 4-6 in 2011 and 6-4 in 2012. … Buckley was deployed in Africa last year and missed the season. … Keep an eye on junior quarterback Gabe Lopez, who is learning the position at a great rate after not playing football before attending Rincon/University. The coaches like his composure and passing ability. … The Rangers play four of their first five games at home, including Friday night against Cholla in the opener. … Copeland was inducted into the Concordia College-Chicago Hall of Fame in 2017. He lettered between 2007 and 2010 and is the Cougars’ career-leading rusher with 3.957 yards. 




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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