High School Football Preview: defense, lineman and specialists - Tucson News Now

High School Football Preview: defense, lineman and specialists

Pueblo's Julio Carino is Tucson's top returning tackler from 2016 (115) (Photo courtesy: Julio Carino III/Facebook). Pueblo's Julio Carino is Tucson's top returning tackler from 2016 (115) (Photo courtesy: Julio Carino III/Facebook).
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The San Manuel Miners are returning a lot from last season’s 1-9 team but it wasn’t enough to turn the tide for them in Week 0.

San Manuel fell to San Tan Foothills 42-12.

The Miners do though have the top returning tackler in Southern Arizona in senior Gabe Velasquez who racked up 159 last season, including 14 tackles for loss and six sacks.

Pueblo junior Julio Carino is the leading tackler from the City of Tucson. He had 115 last season.

Other top tacklers

  • Chris Aguirre (Sr) Salpointe (100) 
  • TJ Cephers (Jr) Marana (98)
  • Gabe Madril (Sr) Salpointe (92)
  • Steven Harshman (Sr) Cienega (89)

San Manuel also has the top four returning defenders at sacking the quarterback led by junior Michael Ochoa who recorded ten in 2016.

Other top sackers

  • Fabian Russo (Jr) San Manuel (6)
  • Bridger Davis (Sr) San Manuel (6)
  • Isaiah Sierra (Jr) Empire (5)

Cienega’s Terrell Hayward (six), Rodney Rogers (five) and Terrell Huggins (four) all return to the Bobcats after combining for 15 interceptions in 2016.

Other top interceptors

  • Andrew Smith (Sr) Marana (4)
  • Jesus Chavez (Sr) Nogales (3)

Southern Arizona has three of the top offensive linemen in the state this season.

Salpointe Catholic’s Matteo Mele (6’6, 275) is already committed to the Washington Huskies and the guard is rated the #4 prospect in the entire state by the recruiting service 24/7 Sports.

Amphi’s David Watson (6’6, 300) is pledging to his father’s alma mater, Arizona. 24/7 Sports has him as the #19 Class of 2018 prospect in Arizona.

He is the son of David Sr. who played offensive line for the Wildcats in the 1990s and his mom Laura Espinoza was a three-time All-American and two-time national champion shortstop for UA Softball.

Safford tackle Ralph Frias (6’7, 320) is currently uncommitted but holds offers from New Mexico State, Dartmouth and Central Florida. 

On the defensive side of the ball, Mountain View lineman Kai Golden (6’2, 295) committed to Air Force this summer.

Sabino’s Bennett Nottingham is the top returning place kicker. He scored 69 points last season on 60 PATs and three field goals.

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