Story and photos by Narciso Thomas Villarreal
Video by Lindsey Weldon
The Pima Community College football team lost its opening conference game, but has secured its best record since 2004.
The No. 7 Glendale Community College Gauchos, the only remaining undefeated team in the Western States Football League, beat the Aztecs 34-21 on Sept. 25 in the Valley of the Sun.
The loss to Glendale brings Pima to the .500 mark at 2-2. Glendale improved to a perfect 4-0 this season with the victory.
“It was a tough team,” Pima head coach Patrick Nugent said. “We gave them some points off turnovers, but I thought we played really well all the way around. We just couldn’t find a way to win it.”
The Aztecs gained 256 total offensive yards with 192 passing yards and 64 rushing yards.
Pima’s starting freshman quarterback Zander McKean went 13-26 for a total of 151 passing yards and threw one interception.
“I just went out there, tried to give it my best, make good reads,” McKean said. “I feel like I played well but definitely room for improvement. I had some freshman mistakes.”
Sophomore tight end Trenton Kamins threw one pass and completed it for 41 yards.
Freshman running back Anthony Hughes scored a touchdown and led the team in rushing with 27 yards in four carries.
Sophomore receiver Scott Campbell had four catches for 44 total receiving yards. Freshman receiver Chris Howard had a 50-yard reception for a touchdown.
On the defensive end, Pima had 54 total tackles along with four sacks. Sophomore defensive back Ricky Solomon had an interception at Glendale.
Sophomore middle linebacker Brent Lush led Pima with seven total tackles, five of which were solo tackles.
“Even though I didn’t have as many tackles I was hoping for, the type of defense that we were running kind of just set it up that everybody made tackles,” Lush said.
Nine football players from the 2009 Glendale football team committed or signed to four-year college institutions. They were Adams State College, Emporia State University and the University of South Dakota.
The Aztecs beat the Bandits of New Mexico Prep Sports Academy in a 48-0 rout on Sept. 18.
In the blow-out victory, Pima gained 250 total offensive yards with 88 passing yards and 162 yards on the ground.
“We blew a lot of opportunities in the first half, fumbled a couple of times, had some bad mistakes,” Nugent said. “Putting up 48 points is something we need to do. It’s kind of a confidence builder. We got to know we can play football.”
Against New Mexico Prep, Pima scored a touchdown in each of the first two quarters and added 34 points in the second half while not allowing NMP to get on the scoreboard.
Aztec sophomore running back Andy Garcia scored three touchdowns as he rushed for 16 yards in five carries.
McKean threw for 41 yards as he finished 10-12 and threw one touchdown pass. Campbell gained 36 receiving yards while making four catches.
On the defensive end, freshman cornerback Ronnie Burton intercepted a Bandits’ pass and returned the football 55 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
“That felt good,” Burton said. “I just felt good to give our team a little momentum, pick our team up because we were down a little bit.”
Special teams also contributed. After sophomore linebacker Justin Kitchen blocked a punt in the fourth quarter, sophomore safety Griffin Ronstadt recovered the football and returned it 21 yards for the touchdown.
“It felt pretty exciting,” Kitchen said about blocking the punt. “I told everyone I was going to block one.”
Ronstadt is tied for first in the WSFL in interceptions with two. Sophomore running back John Hughes is first in the league in punt returns with a 16.3 average.
New Mexico Prep is a post-high school academy for New Mexico student athletes. One goal of the academy is to prepare students both athletically and academically for universities.
Bandits must attend Central New Mexico Community College, which is located in Albuquerque. Student-athletes must take fewer than 12 credits.
The last time Pima hosted Scottsdale Community College, there were fireworks on the field in the Aztecs’ first game at Tucson Electric Park. This year, on Oct. 2 at 7 p.m., there will also be a fireworks show after the game.
Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for students and free for children under 12. Parking is free.
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