Football wrap up

Editorial – Bill McCulloch

It’s been my honor and pleasure to cover for 520 Sports Talk the 2017 Tucson Metro Area Football Season.

Along the way, I’ve met so many great parents, players, alumni, teachers, coaches and athletic directors. You’ve all shown me great respect and loyalty to 520 Sports Talk. Your kind words and support have not gone unnoticed and is very much appreciated.

The main objective of the Show is to showcase, promote and support all athletes in Southeast Arizona at different levels.

There are many unique stories that unfolded during the course of the season. I want to showcase the events that I got to witness while reporting at them.

Before the season kicked off, the Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks, Empire Ravens and Sabino Sabercats were guests on the Show.

I was so impressed with the coaching staff of the Nighthawks with not only teaching of football skills, but the mentoring of life skills. These kids of Ironwood Ridge have exceptional athletic talent, but have a huge advantage into adulthood from Head Coach Matt Johnson and his assistants. Congratulations on a great season and your victory against Apollo in the State Playoffs.

The Sabino Sabercats blew me away with their maturity and manners. Head Coach Ryan McBrayer not only coached a tight knit team of young men, but created a family. The games I covered, especially their playoff game against Fountain Hills showed me that this coaching staff are the right people to mold the young men from Bowes Rd. Congratulations on a fine season and your win against Fountain Hills.

Empire High Ravens showed me how you can do so much being a small school with limitation placed on them with a roster of players from two schools. Head Coach W.T. Jeffries and his staff were very difficult for opponents to prepare every week to defend a rarely used offensive scheme. The Ravens played hard nosed football every time they hit the field. When I interviewed the coaches and players before their first game, I was thoroughly impressed with not only their desire to succeed on the field, but off the field with their academics. The parents whom I’ve made friends with several, showed enormous support for the kids, the school and the 520 Sports Talk Show. You have my eternal respect.

I was privileged to witness Pueblo’s first win over their Southside rivals the  Sunnyside Blue Devils in twenty five years. After a hard fought contest, to see the joy and elation on the faces of those in the stands of the Warrior Block was an image etched in my memory of my mother’s alma mater. Head Coach and Athletic Director Brandon Sanders has brought a new way of doing things and a refreshed attitude and outlook for Pueblo High. Congratulations on a great season and making the State Playoffs.

This next school was the feel good story of the year. The Trojans of Catalina High were coming off an 0-10 season in 2016. Head Coach Joey Butler took his lumps in his first season, but gained a wealth of knowledge and experience among the way. This year they opened up 5-1 and woke up several teams along the way, who were used to the “Old Trojans.” Although they leveled off in the second half of the season, their five game improvement gave hope to this midtown school that hasn’t been seen in years.

The Tucson High Badgers were dealt a bad hand even before the season started. In July the annual monsoon season hit hard and flooded their stadium and ruined their turf. These athletes played all their home games at other TUSD school’s fields. Hard to get a home field advantage when you’re playing in a strange place every week. Credit the coaching staff and Head Coach Justin Argraves in keeping the team together and focused. I enjoyed covering your game thank you for your support.

The Palo Verde Titans were very gracious hosts to me and my staff. Their Athletic Director Jason Karn was very cordial and gave me unlimited access to their field. Looks like a bright future ahead for the Titans.

Cienega Bobcats had the thrill ride of a lifetime this season. The kids from Vail’s largest school took the bull by the horns and week after week came away victorious in a tough division and an arduous non divisional schedule. The spirit squad and fans of Bobcat Nation set the bar high in their support of the team in the loudest stadium I was in the entire season. Head Coach Pat Nugent was very accommodating, giving me access to all players, coaches and any location on the sidelines I was shooting photos or videos. I had the privilege of interviewing some of the top athletes in the area that played for the Copper and Navy. I made friends with several parents and players that will last for years to come. Congratulations on going all the way to the State Semi-Finals.

One thing that impressed me was their support of their sister VUSD school, Empire High. I learned the citizens of this small community have kids at both schools that grew up together and even though they matriculate and play for opposing schools, they maintain mutual respect. 

So there you have it in a nutshell. The highs of the 2017 Football Season as I witnessed it for 520 Sports Talk. If this is any indication of things to come, I can’ t wait to cover the boys and girls basketball.

Thank you to all that made this possible from top to bottom.

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