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2022 Southern Arizona high school football spotlight: Tucson Badgers


5A Southern: Tucson

2021 record: 1-9 overall, 0-5 6A East Valley (last place)

2022 record: 1-0 overall

Head coach: Malcolm Nelson, 1-0 first season at Tucson and overall as a head coach. He is a former defensive assistant coach with the indoor professional football team Tucson Sugar Skulls, in 2019 when Marcus Coleman was the head coach. Nelson replaces veteran coach Richard Sanchez, who stepped down from the position after one season because of undisclosed reasons. Nelson has 18 years of coaching experience mostly in arena football and has served as a personal trainer. He has worked as a high school assistant coach in North Carolina. He attended Clemson and Kent State and was a member of the football team at both schools.

Tucson’s contingent is the same as before legendary coach Richard Sanchez resigned, according to the coaches (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

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Key returners:

  • WR Amier Bowlds, Sr.
  • RB Prince Mugisha, Jr.
  • WR Kwame Couch, Sr.
  • QB Devin Neumann, Sr.
  • WR Dominic Cano, Sr.
  • LB Desmond Benitez, Sr.
  • DB Darius Sauls, Sr.
  • RB Marquice Nobles, Sr.

Coaching staff:

  • Head coach: Malcolm Nelson
  • Assistant: Andrew Peralta
  • Assistant: Anthony Peralta
  • Assistant: Angel Espadas
  • Assistant: Chris Boudy
  • Assistant: Ikaika Piña
  • Assistant: Josh Powell
  • Assistant: Kevin Haywood
  • Assistant: Richard Drow

Notes: Sanchez’s departure means that Tucson is going from one of Southern Arizona’s most experienced coaches with a career record of 162-86 (with two state titles at Sunnyside) in 22 years as a head coach to a coach in his first stint leading a program. Malcolm Nelson, who is coaching on an interim basis, said he views his role as a delegator and consultant with Sanchez’s staff, who opted to stay with the Badgers after Sanchez resigned. Many of the players have warmed up to Nelson, mentioning he is not a “micro-manager.” … Tucson won its opener 29-21 Friday against visiting Mesa Dobson, a 6A East Valley region opponent last year. The Badgers have been reclassified by the AIA to the 5A Southern starting this season. Tucson has won seven of its last eight openers. … Tucson hosts South Mountain, coached by Arizona great Byron Evans, on Sept. 23. The teams played at Tucson High last year with the Jaguars winning 26-20. … Another game of note is Tucson ending its season Nov. 10 at Cienega, which has former Badger coach Justin Argraves. The second-year Cienega coach was Tucson’s coach for 10 years before moving to the Vail school. … Tucson’s coaching staff indicated that the Badgers did not have any defections after Sanchez resigned. The program is challenged mostly by keeping players eligible and healthy.

Keep an eye out for: RB Prince Mugisha, a 5-11, 185-pound junior who has good size, athleticism and durability carrying the ball out of the backfield. With two more seasons to prosper, his future looks bright.

TUCSON (2-1, 0-0)

Badgers compete in the 5A Southern. *Region game. +Games at 7 p.m. except for 9/30 game against Tucson (6 p.m. kickoff)
DateOpponentW/LOvrReg
9/2DobsonW, 29-211-00-0
9/9@ SkylineL, 47-281-10-0
9/23South MountainW, 20-122-10-0
9/30@ Catalina Foothills+
10/7Sunnyside
10/14Mountain View*
10/21@ Desert View*
10/28Buena*
11/4Ironwood Ridge*
11/10@ Cienega*

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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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