It’s a long way from Laramie, Wyo., to the southside of Tucson, but the beauty of a community event such as the Arizona Bowl brings it all together for the Cowboys and the locals.
Among Wyoming’s three days of practice in Tucson leading up to Friday’s Arizona Bowl matchup with Ohio, two were at Sunnyside High School, which had its synthetic turf field completed earlier this month.
The Cowboys will shift their practice to indoors Wednesday at 1 p.m. at the DSC Indoor Facility at Arizona.
The practices are closed to the public and media by coach Craig Bohl.
Members of the Southwest Rams youth football organization and their families were allowed access to the Cowboys after Tuesday’s practice to have pictures taken and get autographs.
.@wyo_football players sign autographs for Southwest Rams players after their practice today at @SHSDevilSports ahead of Friday’s @theARIZONABOWL. #arizonabowl2022 #wyomingcowboys pic.twitter.com/qu4ozXvn97
— Javier Morales (@JavierJMorales) December 27, 2022
The Rams and Cowboys don’t know much about the other but their common bond is football.
“What position do you play?” the Cowboys asked them.
“Are you still working out, practicing, even though your season’s over?” one of them asked.
“Yeah, I just came from practice,” Patrick Pina III responded.
Pina and fellow wrestling standout of the future Isaiah Landavaso are middle-school students who are part of the Sunnyside Wrestling Academy that was also working out on Tuesday in the Blue Devils’ wrestling room.
The autographs on the caps and shirts will be kept by the Rams and the occasion will be something they’ll talk about for the rest of their lives.
Wyoming’s players will also remember the few minutes of the kids respecting their stature to want an autograph even though they don’t know each other.
Sunnyside coach Thomas Romack was unable to have his players watch practice or be anywhere around the Cowboys and their coaches. That would be an NCAA recruiting violation.
The value of having the Arizona Bowl pay for renting the facility for two days is more than sufficient for Romack and Blue Devils.
“What’s funny is they get to practice on our field before we do,” said Romack, noting that the installation of the turf field was completed after Sunnyside’s season was over.
The “Wyoming Football” equipment truck was docked nearby in the parking lot.
Five luxury buses awaited the Cowboys to take them back to the JW Marriott.
Major college football has met the southside of Tucson.
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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.