Sly Lewis is coming home to Pueblo High School, where he graduated in 1992 and played football for legendary Saturnino “Curly” Santa Cruz.
An assistant coach over the last 20 years at Sabino under Jay Campos and Ryan McBrayer, Lewis is the new head coach of the Warriors.
Pueblo athletic director Miguel Sandoval confirmed on Friday the hire of Lewis, who replaces Jake Allen (now the head coach at Sahuarita).
Shortly after the comfirmation by Sandoval, Lewis commented about becoming a head coach at his alma mater.
“The only place I would ever leave Sabino for would be home, and that’s Pueblo,” Lewis told AllSportsTucson.com. “The opportunity presented itself, and I’m excited for that challenge.”
Lewis served as offensive coordinator the last seven years under Ryan McBrayer at Sabino, leading highly productive players such as quarterbacks A.J. Skaggs and Cameron Hackworth, running backs Andres Baca and Mason Cade and a bevvy of receivers including Michael Masunas, Diego Armijo, Isiah Aguirre, Savaughn Berryhill, Shamar Berryhill and Bret Roberson.
The Sabercats are coming off their first state championship in 25 years with a prolific-passing offense, led by Hackworth.
Hackworth set a Southern Arizona career passing record with 8,797 yards, including 3,871 this season.
“I had some great, great years at Sabino and learned under some of the best in Southern Arizona, namely, Ryan McBrayer,” Lewis said. “He has been an instrumental part of me growing as a coach, and now being able to now be a head coach. I’ve learned so much from him.
“My goal, seven years ago, when (McBrayer) took over, was to make sure that we worked to get a state title. It happened with a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication. I’m so happy to be a part of his legacy at Sabino High School, to bring us a title back after 25 years.”
Lewis understands the challenge ahead at the southside school.
Former Arizona “Desert Swarm” standout Brandon Sanders coached Pueblo to winning seasons in five of his six years at the school from 2014-19. Allen led the Warriors to one winning season after having to coach the program following the 2020 season that was impacted by COVID-19.
Before Sanders and Allen, Pueblo had 10 straight losing seasons dating to 2003.
Santa Cruz’s 15-year career with the Warriors ended in 1994.
“The biggest thing is that I am that kid (who went to Pueblo),” Lewis said. “They say things have changed, or whatever, but I don’t see it that way. People who are from the Southside of Tucson have a strong backing for football.
“The bottom line is to make sure that we’re teaching these young people how to be better people. That’s the number one goal. I also want to build relationships with these players, faculty, administration, and just the overall Southside community and Tucson.”
Lewis said he gained an understanding of the importance of the Southside community playing under Santa Cruz.
“He’s a legend; they named the stadium after him at Pueblo,” Lewis said. “The one thing that I know from him is that he preached about the community. I just want to do anything possible to restore some great things at Pueblo High School.”
SOUTHERN ARIZONA COACHING CHANGES AFTER 2023 SEASON
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