2023 High School Football

2023 Southern Arizona High School Football Spotlight: Marana Tigers


2022 record: 10-2 overall, 5-0 in 5A Sonoran

Head coach: Philip Steward, 18-5 third year at Marana and overall.

Phillip Steward led Marana to a 10-win season last year, the Tigers’ first time they achieved that many victories since the 1968 team went 11-0 and won a state title (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)


Key returners:

  • QB/WR Jason Wood, 6-1, 180, Sr.
  • WR/CB Dezmen Roebuck, 5-11, 170, Jr.
  • WR/CB Jaelen Collins, 6-2, 175, Sr.
  • WR Dominic Cillitto, 6-1,165, Jr.
  • DE/NG Bryan Tilford, 5-11, 190, Sr.
  • NG Logan Joseph, 6-3, 225, Sr.
  • C/G Sean Crandall, 5-8, 205, Sr.
  • TE/DE Connor Drayton, 6-5, 220, Sr.




Coaching staff:

  • Head coach: Phillip Steward
  • Defensive coordinator: Jim Yancerell
  • QB coach/JV co-offensive coordinator: Lee Joplin
  • WR coach/JV co-offensive coordinator: Jay Sharp
  • Defensive backs/special teams assistant: Michael Willhite
  • Running backs: Randy Boswell
  • Defensive line/Strength & conditioning/JV head coach: Mathew Thomas
  • Special teams coordinator/JV running backs: Eric Persson
  • Freshmen head coach: Andrew Perez
  • Freshmen wideouts: Jeremy DeWitt
  • Freshmen offensive coordinator: Brian Sharp
  • Freshmen defensive coordinator: Chad Sweatman

Notes: Phillip Steward became Marana’s head coach before the 2021 season after Louie Ramirez took an assistant coaching position at powerhouse Scottsdale Saguaro. Steward is from Missouri City, Texas, a suburb of Houston, where he was an all-state linebacker. He was with the St. Louis Rams in 2013 and 2014 after signing as a free agent following his career at Houston (where he played for former Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin). He also played in the Fall Experimental Football League and the Canadian Football League. He joined former Arkansas standout and NFL player Alonzo Highsmith Jr. at Willcox. He coached with Highsmith (who resigned before the 2021 season) for three years before joining Ramirez’s staff in 2020. He coached outside linebackers and running backs. Steward moved to Tucson because his fiancée is attending pharmacy school at Arizona. … Although Steward has a defensive background, he calls the plays for Marana as the defensive coordinator. He has mentioned he enjoys that role because he knows what defensive coordinators prepare for and wants to scheme against them. … Steward’s style is an uptempo, no-huddle, quick-read offense that prevents the defense to get situated before the ball is snapped. That generally negates blitzing defenses and consistent pressure on the quarterback. The extraordinary production indicates that offense is efficient. … Jason Wood started as quarterback in Marana’s first two games last season against Mountain View and Buena and led the Tigers to big wins in each game. He completed 31 of 44 pass attempts for 528 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. When Elijah Joplin returned in the third game from an eye injury, Wood shifted to a receiver on offense and finished with 515 receiving yards on 29 catches and 10 touchdowns. … Wideouts Dezmen Roebuck and Jaelen Collins are one of the best duos in the state along with Sabino’s Berryhill brothers (Savaughn and Shamar). Roebuck, a junior who has a scholarship offer from Arizona, had 92 receptions for 1,274 yards and 13 touchdowns. Collins (17 catches for 417 yards and two touchdowns) played more on defense as a cornerback last year. He finished with 63 tackles and four interceptions.

Keep an eye out for: LB Markus Gonzalez, a senior who is 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds. Had a breakout season last year tallying 73 tackles, five for loss with 3.5 sacks. … He also had two pass deflections, a fumble recovery and a caused fumble. … He had nine tackles in Marana’s 26-17 over Phoenix Sunnyslope in the first round of the 5A state playoffs last year. … He also had nine tackles in Marana’s impressive wins over Cienega and Sunnyside last season.

11. MARANA (5-5)

Head coach: Phillip Steward
Tigers compete in the 5A Southern. Bold are playoff games. Playoff games at 7 p.m.
8/25at SalpointeL1435
9/1at TucsonW437
9/8at HigleyL2429
9/15at Mountain ViewL3542
9/22Canyon del OroL2149
9/29at BuenaW550
10/6at SunnysideL617
10/20Desert ViewW498
10/27at Casa GrandeW429
11/9at ALA-Gilbert North


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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