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2021 Southern Arizona High School Football Preview: Rio Rico


Rio Rico is slated for an eight-game season in 2021 unless it can plug in potential opponents (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

4A Gila: Rio Rico

2020 record: 1-2 in a season cut short because of COVID-19.

Head coach: Kevin Kuhm, 14-19 in fifth season at Rio Rico and 33-41 overall in ninth season. Heading into Friday’s opener at Nogales, Kuhm is in the unique position of having coached both programs. Kuhm is a 2010 Arizona graduate with a degree in health and physical education/fitness. He earned his master’s in educational leadership and administration at NAU in 2016. He has also served as the assistance principal and athletic director at Nogales. Kuhm is trying to instill confidence in a Rio Rico program that at one time had a 51-game losing streak from 2000 to 2006. He coached the Hawks to their one and only winning season in 2014 with a 6-5 record. The program started in 1997. This is its 25th year of competition.

Key returners:

  • QB Andres Lopez, 5-8, 145, Jr.
  • RB/LB Omar Rodriguez, 5-8, 175, Sr.
  • RB/DL Miguel Robles, 5-8, 150, Sr.
  • RB/LB Anthony Amezaga, 5-8, 170, Sr.
  • WR/DB Aaron Villegas, 5-10, 145, Jr.
  • WR/DB Sylviano Garcia, 6-2, 190, Jr.
  • DT/OT Ruben Encinas, 5-10, 240, Sr.
Kevin Kuhm is in his third season since returning to Rio Rico after coaching the Hawks in 2012 and 2013 (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Coaching staff:

  • Head coach/quarterbacks: Kevin Kuhm
  • Offensive coordinator/offensive line: Zach Bunnell
  • Defensive coordinator/linebackers/strength & conditioning: Andy Bachelier
  • Defensive line: Carlos Duran
  • Linebackers/running backs: Danny Navarro
  • Wide receivers/secondary: Danny Rodriguez
Rio Rico assistant Andy Bachelier, a former Nogales standout who played at NAU, will coach against his alma mater on Friday (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Notes: Bachelier’s name is a popular one in Nogales. Both his father and grandfather played baseball at Arizona. His brother, Ben, played football at NAU, and another brother, Marcel, also played baseball at Arizona and Pima College. He had three uncles that played football at Washington State. Andy Bachelier also played football at NAU after a successful career at Nogales, which hosts Rio Rico on Friday. He is credited with administering Rio Rico’s new weightlifting facility and getting positive results from the players. … Rio Rico’s turf is undergoing renovation with a synthetic surface to be installed. Completion of that project should be done by Oct. 29, when the Hawks host Catalina Foothills. They play their first five games on the road with only home games against the Falcons and Amphi (Nov. 12) scheduled. Games against Cottonwood Mingus at Flagstaff and at home against Palo Verde were canceled, leaving the Hawks with an eight-game schedule. … Kuhm has talked to his players in great length about building respect for the Rio Rico program, which has only one winning season in its 25th year of existence. He mentioned that members of that winning team in 2013 have communicated with him this week and are pulling for the Hawks to beat the Apaches for the first time in program history. Nogales holds a 12-0 series edge. “Only one person can say they walked on the moon for the first time,” Kuhm told his team. “You can be part of something special and always say you were the first at this school to beat Nogales.” … Rio Rico has an experienced QB in Andres Lopez, who is only a junior. He gained confidence last year against Santa Rita, completing three of six passes for 101 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Daniel Tapia, who rushed for 264 yards in Rio Rico’s three games last year, has used his eligibility. Keep an eye on RB Omar Rodriguez to be the feature back in Kuhm’s offense.

Kevin Kuhm, who coached Rio Rico to its only winning season in 2013, is stressing to his team to believe it can accomplish great things (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Schedule:

(AZPREPS365)

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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. 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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