Citizen Staff Writer
The Pima Community College football coaching staff is stacked with Tucson ties that all bring something valuable to the table in the program’s effort to transform from laughingstock to winners.
Former Canyon del Oro High School coach Pat Nugent has surrounded himself with a staff of ex-head coaches that will undoubtedly make the Aztecs competitive. But as key to the transformation as any just might be the youngest of his assistants coaches, one of the few who has never been a head coach.
Former Sunnyside and Northern Arizona University star running back Philo Sanchez, the son of highly successful Sunnyside coach Richard Sanchez, has taken on the duties of instructing the Pima running backs, at least until he hears back from some law schools he has applied to in California.
“If I don’t happen to get in (to law school) this year,” Sanchez said, “then being a part of this is going to be a great opportunity. Coach Nugent has brought together a lot good coaches here and it’s something that I think is going to work for this team.”
Sanchez, a teacher at Sunnyside who has helped coach his dad’s team the past several seasons, graduated in 2002 from Sunnyside after rushing for 3,984 yards in his junior and senior seasons and went on to have a successful career at NAU.
But his role as a potential liaison between Pima and the pipeline of talent the Sunnyside program puts out each year will be vital. The Blue Devils consistently place a handful of players on junior college football rosters each year. There is no reason those contributors won’t have every reason to stay in Tucson now.
Sanchez was also the 2002 Tucson Citizen Student Athlete of the Year. Academics always have been a strong point for Sanchez. And if he doesn’t get into law school this summer, he likely will soon, so his tenure at Pima may be short-lived.
Still, as long as he’s there now, it won’t hurt the rebuilding project going on for the Aztecs.
• Check out more sports musings at the Grammer School Sports blog at www.tucsoncitizen.com/blog