2023 High School Football

2023 Southern Arizona High School Football Spotlight: Cholla Chargers


2022 record: 2-8 overall, 1-4 in 5A Sonoran

2023 record: 1-0 overall

Head coach: Virgil Henderson, 12-30 sixth season at Cholla and 12-40 overall seventh season.


Key returners:

  • RB/DE Francisco Mendivil, 5-9, 205, Jr.
  • RB/LB Alejandro Manriquez, Sr.
  • WR/DB Rocco Sotelo, 5-8, 150, Sr.
  • WR/DB Alexander Alegria, 5-5, 130, Sr.
  • DE Angel Hernandez, Sr.
  • LB/SS Hector Anaya, Jr.
  • WR/DB Uzzi Sotelo, Jr.



Coaching staff:

  • Head coach: Virgil Henderson
  • Assistant: Cristian Villaescusa
  • Assistant: Stan Porter
  • Assistant: Noah Silva
  • Assistant: Omar Pierre
  • Assistant: Tony Salvatore
  • Assistant: Demetrius Bowie

Notes: Virgil Henderson is on his second stint with the Chargers after coaching two years at the school in 2014 and 2015. His first experience as a head coach was in 2013 at Rincon/University on an interim basis. … The Chargers’ last winning season was in 2015 when they finished 6-4 under Henderson. That team included linebacker Cristian Villaescusa, who is now an assistant under Henderson. Villaescusa went on to play for Pima College before the school disbanded the football program. … Henderson has coached with some of Southern Arizona’s greats: Dennis Bene at Salpointe, Matt Johnson at Ironwood Ridge and Mountain View, Gary Minor at Ironwood Ridge and Richard Sanchez at Sunnyside. He is one of the best players Catalina High School has produced as a star running back/defensive back (Class of 1987). … Cholla is 1-0 after beating Glendale Copper Canyon 7-0. It was the Chargers’ first shutout since beating Amphi 50-0 in the 2017 season under coach Ryan Scherling. … Cholla plays at Phoenix Maryvale on Friday with the goal of starting 2-0 for only the third time in the last 21 years. The Chargers started 2-0 in 2017 under Scherling and 2-0 in 2015 under Henderson. That team started 3-0 under Henderson. … RB/DE Francisco Mendivil was impressive in the win over Copper Canyon, rushing for 75 yards on 15 carries with the lone touchdown of the game. A bullish runner at 5-9 and 205 pounds, he has a youth football background of playing with the Raiders, Rams and Scorpions. … Cholla moved from the 5A to 4A this season based on its recent performance and school enrollment. Henderson and his staff have struggled in recent years to get players to play and stay healthy and eligible. The Chargers have 35 players on the roster, the most they have had in recent years. … Cholla is playing in the wide open 4A Kino that includes Rincon/University, Empire, Douglas, Rio Rico and Amphi.

Keep an eye out for: QB Damien Estrella, only a freshman played under control with confidence and few mistakes in his first high school game against Copper Canyon. Estrella completed 4 of 7 passes for 34 yards without a touchdown or interception.

40. CHOLLA (3-4, 1-2)

Head coach: Virgil Henderson
Chargers compete in the 4A Gila. *Region game. Games at 7 p.m.
8/25Copper CanyonW, 7-01-00-0
9/1at MaryvaleW, 21-82-00-0
9/8PuebloL, 27-02-10-0
9/15at SahuaroL, 29-102-20-0
9/22Amphi*L, 34-32-30-1
9/29at Rincon/University*W, 39-03-31-1
10/6at Douglas *L, 41-03-41-2
11/03at Rio Rico*------


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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