2023 High School Football

3A South features top-rated teams, led by successful coaches heading into Week 8 games

Rishard Davis was 58-21 with a state title at Eloy Santa Cruz from 2014 through 2020 and is 3-3 in his first year at Morenci (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com file photo)

Rishard Davis is returning to Pusch Ridge on Friday night, coaching Morenci against the Lions in a pivotal 3A South game in Week 8 of the high school football season in Southern Arizona.

Davis was an assistant coach at Flowing Wells and Pusch Ridge before embarking on his head coaching career at Eloy Santa Cruz Valley in 2014. Seven seasons later, in 2020, Davis coached the Dust Devils to their first state title in 30 years.

He became the first African-American to win an AIA state football championship.

Davis, a former walk-on at Arizona during the Mike Stoops era, left to his native Alabama for the 2021 and 2022 to serve as a high school assistant coach while being close to his parents.

Top Southern Arizona HS Football Coaching Records

List of top active Southern Arizona coaches in victories of their high school head coaching careers. Compiled and researched by AllSportsTucson.com.
Jeff ScurranRio Rico4A3181512.67839
Pat NugentMica Mountain4A158650.70821
Matt JohnsonMountain View5A132850.60820
Jorge MendivilAmphi4A1211010.54522
Dustin PeaceCDO4A117500.70115

He returned to Arizona this season to lead the traditionally strong Morenci program.

The 13th-rated Wildcats (3-3, 0-1 3A South) were elevated this season from 2A, a level in which it lost in the state championship game last year to Pima. Former coach Joe Garcia resigned from his position to be a counselor at the school, opening a spot for Davis.

Morenci will try to end its three-game losing streak when it visits No. 7 Pusch Ridge (5-1, 0-1). The Lions are coming off their first loss of the season, a 40-27 setback to Sabino in their 3A South opener last week.

Pusch Ridge coach Kent Middleton tops all active Southern Arizona coaches in winning percentage (.800) at 32-8 in his fourth year as a head coach, all with the Lions.

Davis is fourth with a winning percentage of .718 — 61-24 record — factoring his seven years at Santa Cruz and first year at Morenci.

Southern Arizona High School Football Winning Percentage

List of top active Southern Arizona high school football coaches by winning percentage in their overall career high school head coaching records factoring at least 20 games coached.Compiled and researched by AllSportsTucson.com.
Eric RogersSalpointe5A3511.7614
Kent MiddletonPusch Ridge3A3411.7564
Ryan McBrayerSabino3A5619.7477
Rishard DavisMorenci3A6124.7258
Pat NugentMica Mountain4A15865.70821

The other in-town 3A South game on Friday with No. 11 Thatcher (3-3, 0-0) at No. 5 Sabino (5-1, 2-0) also features two of the top coaches in Southern Arizona in terms of winning percentage.

Sabino coach Ryan McBrayer is third at .739 (51-18 in his seventh year, all at Sabino) and Thatcher’s Daniel Jones is sixth at .700 (28-12 in four years, all with the Eagles).

Rio Rico veteran coach Jeff Scurran, in his 39th season as a head coach at the high school level, has the most wins among active Southern Arizona coaches with 316.

Four other local coaches have at least 100 career victories — Mica Mountain’s Pat Nugent (152 in 21 years), Mountain View’s Matt Johnson (129 in 20 years), Amphi’s Jorge Mendivil (118 in 22 years) and CDO’s Dustin Peace (110 in 15 years).


6A flag: No. 1 Marana 42, No. 18 Tolleson 0
3A non-region: No. 14 Safford 24, No. 17 Round Valley 21
2A San Pedro: No. 14 Bisbee 74, No. 40 Palo Verde 26

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 6 (all games at 7 p.m.)

No. 15 Corona del Sol (2-3) at No. 12 Salpointe (5-0)

No. 8 Buena (5-1) at No. 25 Desert View (3-3)
No. 18 Cienega (3-2) at No. 13 Case Grande (4-2)
No. 19 Marana (2-4) at No. 26 Sunnyside (2-3)

No. 9 Ironwood Ridge (5-1) at No. 35 Tucson (1-4)
No. 38 Flowing Wells (1-5) at No. 31 Mountain View (1-4)
No. 44 Nogales (0-5) at No. 33 Maricopa (2-3)

No. 2 Canyon del Oro (5-0) at No. 25 Catalina Foothills (3-3)
No. 3 Mica Mountain (5-0) at No. 29 Pueblo (3-2)
No. 30 Sahuaro (2-4) at No. 13 Walden Grove (3-2)

No. 26 Amphitheater (4-2) at No. 46 Empire (2-4)
No. 32 Rio Rico (2-3) at No. 51 Sahuarita (1-4)
No. 36 Cholla (3-3) at No. 39 Douglas (2-4)
No. 14 Vista Grande at No. 41 Rincon/UHS (2-3) Freedom

No. 11 Thatcher (3-3) at No. 5 Sabino (5-1)
No. 13 Morenci (3-3) at No. 7 Pusch Ridge (5-1)

No. 5 Tanque Verde (5-1) at No. 27 Willcox (2-4)
No. 31 Catalina (3-3) at No. 16 Tombstone (4-2)
No. 23 Benson (3-3) at No. 11 Phoenix Christian (4-2) Freedom

No. 13 Ray (4-3) at No. 8 San Manuel (5-2) (SM can win Region)
No. 22 Ft. Thomas (2-5) at No. 11 St. David (4-3), 7 p.m.
No. 19 Duncan (1-5) at No. 15 Valley Union (4-3), 7 p.m.
No. 14 Baboquivari (3-3: BYE)

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 in 2016 and is presently a special education teacher at Sunnyside High School in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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