2023 High School Football

2023 Southern Arizona High School Football Spotlight: Buena Colts

5A Southern — Buena Colts

2022 record: 7-3 overall, 3-2 5A Southern (third)

Head coach: Joe Thomas, 42-62, 12th year overall (including 2012-14 at his alma mater Tombstone) and 31-43, ninth year at Buena.

Joe Thomas (with new assistant Chris Determan) is in his ninth season as Buena’s head coach, persevering through a 0-22 start in his first three seasons with the Colts (Buena photo)


Key returners:

  • QB/FS Nash Moore, 6-0, 175, Jr.
  • WR/DB Aliaz Dyson, 5-8, 150, Jr.
  • RB/LB Charlie Price, 5-8, 160, Jr.
  • RB/LB Andres Bonilla, 5-9, 175, Jr.
  • RB/LB Danny Bohlen, 5-10, 175, Jr.
  • WR/DB Simon-Peter Johnson, 5-11, 175, Sr.
  • WR/FS Adrian Bonilla, 6-1, 175, Sr.
  • LB Brayden Hall, 5-11, 200, Sr.
  • DL/OL Emmanuel Bocharski, 6-2, 265, Sr.
  • WR/FS Jayden Thomas, 5-9, 145, Soph.


Coaching staff:

  • Head coach: Joe Thomas
  • Associate head coach/quarterbacks/defensive backs/special teams: Chris Determan
  • Defensive coordinator/defensive line: Lawrence Boutte
  • Offensive line: Adam Fuhriman
  • Inside linebackers: Matt Keough
  • Director of player personnel: Mike Tomooka
  • Offensive and defensive lines: Charles Stemler
  • Outside linebackers: Christopher Kraus
  • Wide receivers/JV defensive coordinator: LaRoy Chase
  • Kicking and punting: Mike Leavitt
  • Running backs/JV head coach: Sam Brown
  • JV offensive coordinator and quarterbacks: Tim Williams
  • JV offensive and defensive lines: Keith Bocharski
  • Director study hall and grade checks: Shannel Blackshear

Notes: Chris Determan, who coached Benson to two state championship games in his 19 years at the school, is in his first year as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Joseph Thomas. Determan was not retained by Benson after the 2021 season because the school wanted to have more of a passing attack and Determan’s offenses predominantly rushed the ball. … Thomas lost the first 22 games of his career at Buena, but the community and administration stood by his side and he has gone 31-22 since including 7-3 last season and an 8-3 season in 2019 in which the Colts reached the state playoffs. It was the Colts’ first postseason appearance since 2013 and only their third since 1993. … After graduating from Tombstone in 2002, Thomas went on to Pima Community College to play football under Jeff Scurran and run track. He earned a track scholarship to NAU and ran there until 2006. … Buena has one of the top returning running backs in the state — junior Andres Bonilla — who is coming off rushing for 1,546 yards on 187 carries with 16 touchdowns. Bonilla is shooting for at least 2,000 rushing yards this season. … Bonilla’s brother Adrian, a senior receiver and free safety, is Buena’s top returning tackler with 77. The leading tackler last season, defensive end Toafia Freun with 95, is a freshman preferred walk-on at Arizona. … Buena utilized five different quarterbacks last year but junior Nash Moore got most of the reps and is the starter going into this season. Moore passed for 761 yards while competing 52 of 127 pass attempts with five touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also rushed for 142 yards on 46 carries. … The Colts are junior heavy in talent. The program is one to watch this year and next.

Keep an eye out for: WR/FS Jayden Thomas, who is a sprinter on the Colts’ track team, following in the footsteps of his dad. Jayden, a sophomore, experienced considerable playing time as a freshman. He had 29 tackles last season.

15. BUENA (7-3)

Head coach: Joe Thomas
Colts compete in the 5A Southern. Bold are playoff games. Playoff games at 7 p.m.
9/1at Ironwood RidgeW3520
9/8Catalina FoothillsW3328
9/15at TucsonW2113
10/6at Desert ViewW3614
10/20at CienegaL617
10/27at SunnysideW1514
11/3Casa GrandeL3531
11/9at Desert Edge


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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