2023 High School Football

2023 Southern Arizona High School Football Preview: Thatcher Eagles

3A South: Thatcher Eagles

2022 record: 13-1 overall, 5-0 in the 3A South (champion). Lost in the 3A state championship game to Eastmark.

Head coach: Daniel Jones, 26-9, fourth season at Thatcher and overall. He headed to Thatcher after serving as an assistant coach at Mesa Desert Ridge for 14 years.

Thatcher is coming off a 13-1 season and is counting on many new starters to maintain their competitiveness under coach Daniel Jones (Thatcher photo)


Key returners:

  • QB Brett Jones, Jr., 6-2, 220
  • RB/LB Carter Peck, Sr., 6-1, 165
  • TE/DE Daniel Jones Jr., Sr., 6-2, 200
  • WR/DB Wyatt Nickolas, Jr., 6-1, 150
  • OL/DE Zac Salazar, Sr., 6-5, 245
  • OL/LB Gavin Rogers, Sr., 5-9, 175
  • WR/DB Koen Henry, Sr., 5-8, 140


Coaching staff:

  • Head coach/defensive coordinator: Daniel Jones
  • Offensive coordinator: Russ Jones
  • Line: Danny Battraw
  • Running backs/defensive backs: Billy Farris
  • JV coach/strength and conditioning: Kody Taylor
  • JV defensive coordinator: Jacob Robbins
  • JV backs: Michael Romney
  • JV line: Ethan Estes
  • Receivers/operations: Brett Hunt
  • Receivers/defensive back: Trace Goodman

Notes: Daniel Jones understands what it takes to coach a rural 3A school to prominence after playing as a tight end/defensive end on two of Lakeside Blue Ridge’s 3A football championship teams. Jones left the suburbs of Phoenix, coaching at Mesa’s Desert Ridge High School for 14 years, to move back to the small town and he and the Eagles have prospered from it. … He played for the late Paul Moro at Blue Ridge. Moro is the state’s all-time winningest high school football coach. … Thatcher lost 96 percent of its offensive production from a year ago, including quarterback Brandon Napier, who accounted for 1,106 total yards. Brett Jones, Daniel Jones’ nephew, will step into the starting quarterback role with impressive size at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds. … Jones’ son Daniel Jones Jr. is a 6-2, 200-pound tight end/defensive end. … In somewhat of an oddity, Thatcher does not start to play its 3A South schedule until the seventh game of the season. … Before that, the Eagles open at Paradise Honors on Friday and have challenging road games against Paradise Honors, Valley Christian and Yuma Catholic. They also come to Tucson twice to face Sabino and Pusch Ridge.

Keep an eye out for: QB/LB Brett Jones — He plays the uncommon combination of quarterback and linebacker because of his size (6-foot-2 and 220 pounds). He is taking over for Brandon Napier, who was selected the 3A South Player of the Year by region coaches. The nephew of head coach Daniel Jones, the junior has not thrown a pass at the varsity level but he had 68 tackles, five for loss.

9. THATCHER (4-3, 1-0)

Head coach: Daniel Jones
Eagles compete in the 3A South. *Region game. Games at 7 p.m.
8/18at Paradise HonorsL, 35-140-10-0
8/25CrismonW, 40-01-10-0
9/1at Valley ChristianL, 15-141-20-0
9/8Round ValleyW, 22-202-20-0
9/15at Yuma CatholicL, 42-202-30-0
9/29Show LowW, 41-03-30-0
10/6at Sabino*W, 27-204-31-0
10/20at Pusch Ridge*------


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 Sunnyside High School in the Sunnyside Unified School District

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