By BETO HOYOS
The No. 8 seeded Pima Community College football team picked up a 27-10 victory on Oct. 25 against No. 9 Phoenix College in the quarterfinal round of the WSFL consolation bracket.
The Aztecs will play the semifinal round at No. 5 Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m.
Pima beat Phoenix College for its only win of the regular season, and had their number again in the playoffs.
PCC fell behind 10-6 in the first half, but broke the game open in the second half, scoring the final 21 points of the game.
Freshman quarterback Kian Homme threw his first touchdown pass in the third quarter to freshman Jason Luna for a 60-yard find.
After tough defense forced Phoenix College to punt, Homme went back to work. He found Matthew Robertson on a 45-yard pass that set up a 16-yard touchdown pass to DeQuavan Brooks.
With 2:34 left in the game, Homme again connected with Brooks for a touchdown.
Sophomore kicker/punter Tanner Fanning, who was named TEP Aztec Power Player of the Week on Oct 21, finished with two field goals, one from 38 yards and another from 26 yards.
The Pima defense had eight sacks, with six coming in the second half. Freshman Cameron Bean led the team with four and a half sacks.
In the first half, freshman Ronald Dowdell had two fumble recoveries. Pima held Phoenix College to 19 yards of total offense in the second half.
On Oct. 18, Pima lost to No. 6 Snow College 73-6 in the final game of the regular season.
The Aztecs turned the ball over on their first three possessions, and found themselves down 24-0 in the first quarter.
Freshman Donovan Moore scored Pima’s only goal on an 81-yard quarterback keeper.
Snow College went on to score 49 unanswered points.
Freshman Cameron Bean had a sack in the second quarter and sophomore Stokeley Session had an interception in the fourth quarter for Pima.
By BETO HOYOS
The Pima Community College football team (1-6) lost its sixth game of the season on Oct. 11, falling to Glendale Community College 61-28.
“It’s like Dick Tomey says, ‘your character is built in the valley,’ and right now we’re in the Grand Canyon,” head coach Jim Monaco said.
The Aztecs tried to stay close but were down 31-21 at halftime.
Freshman quarterback Kian Homme threw two touchdown passes to freshman Donovan Moore.
Sophomore Rasheed Parks also returned a fumble recovery for a score.
Freshman wide receiver Tristen Foley was named the TEP \Power Player of the Week on Oct. 13. He had 12 receptions for 96 yards and made diving catches during the Glendale game.
The Aztecs made their way down Highway 19 on Oct. 4 to play Scottsdale Community College at Sahuarita High School for a Coaches for Charity event. They lost to the Artichokes 56-20.
“We’re working hard with what we got, and it’s a coaches’ thing also,” Monaco said. “I’ve been pretty tough on my coaches too.”
The Aztecs allowed four touchdowns in the first quarter.
“Those four touchdowns came in four plays,” Monaco said. “It seems to be one thing after another.”
Homme threw two touchdown passes, one to Foley and another to sophomore Matthew Robertson.
With two seconds left, freshman running back Deontay Townsend scored a two-yard rushing touchdown.
Moore was named the TEP Power Player of the Week on Oct. 6 for the second time this season after he lead the team with 11 receptions for 122 yards. He also had three carries for 21 yards and two kick returns for 19 yards.
Moore’s first selection came after Pima’s game at the New Mexico Military Institute on Sept. 6, when he had 11 catches for 98 yards.
Pima will play its final home game of the regular season on Oct. 18.
Despite the losses, individual players have garnered acclaim.
Moore leads the NJCAA in receptions with 62. His 100.1 receiving yards per game top the WSFL conference and is 10th in the NJCAA.
Homme is fourth in the WSFL conference in passing yards with 219.4 per game.
Oct. 16: Snow College, Kino North, 1 p.m.
Oct. 25: @ football playoffs, round 1, TBA
By BETO HOYOS
After a week off, the Pima Community College football team traveled to Yuma on Sept. 27 with hopes of picking up its second win of the season.
No. 10 Arizona Western College didn’t cooperate, defeating the Aztecs 49-13.
Throughout the first quarter and most of the second, the Aztecs’ offense was as dry as the desert they were playing in. They gave up 21 points in the first quarter, and faced a 28-0 deficit before scoring a touchdown.
That touchdown came with 2:19 left in the second quarter courtesy of a nine-yard run by freshman Deontay Townsend.
In the third quarter, the Aztecs began stringing together first downs. Freshman quarterback Kian Homme threw two first-down passes each to freshman receiver DeQuavan Brooks and sophomore wide receiver Angel Holmes.
The passes set up Townsend for a 16-yard touchdown pass that brought the score to 28-13.
Western responded with another touchdown on their next possession, and outscored Pima 21-6 in the second half.
‘Coaches for Charity’ game set Oct. 4 at Sahuarita High
The Pima Community College football team will take on Scottsdale Community College on Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. at Sahuarita High School in a Coaches for Charity event.
Representatives will be on hand to raise awareness about the charitable organization, which promotes an active, healthy lifestyle for student athletes in high school and college.
The organization raises funds through athletic events to help provide scholarship opportunities to student athletes regardless of ability.
Coaches for Charity also partners with other organizations to organize tournaments, primarily in middle school and high school. Local tournaments include the MLK Basketball Classic and the Roskruge Cougar Basketball Classic.
For more information, visit CoachesForCharity.org.
-By Beto Hoyos
By BETO HOYOS
After winning its first game of the season, the Pima Community College football team has lost three in a row.
The Aztecs tried to rally Sept. 13 while hosting Mesa Community College, but lost 36-20.
Pima had a tough time finding any kind of momentum, and was down 17-0 by the end of the first quarter. At halftime, the deficit had deepened to 23-0.
It was more of the same coming out of halftime. Mesa turned it first possession of the third quarter into a touchdown to put the Aztecs down 30-0.
Pima’s first touchdown came courtesy of freshman running back Deontay Townsend on a five-yard drive.
Late in the third, the Aztecs put together a three-play drive that ended with freshman quarterback Rasheem Parks finding sophomore wide receiver Angel Holmes for a 50-yard reception.
Mesa continued to grow its lead in the fourth quarter but the Aztecs did not go out without a fight.
With time winding down, Parks connected with freshman wide receiver Tristen Foley for a 25-yard touchdown. Pima followed with a two-point conversion.
On Sept. 6, the team traveled to Roswell to take on New Mexico Military Institute. The matchup was a back-and-forth affair as both teams tacked on points, but the Aztecs lost 45-38.
“We were two totally different teams,” head coach Jim Monaco said. “The old saying is true, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
The Aztecs scored early in the first quarter, and built a 31-10 halftime lead.
“We had an amazing first half,” Monaco said. “We were more lucky than good in that first half.”
Pima quickly learn that NMMI would not stay down. The team launched a third-quarter scoring run to tie the game, and outscored the Aztecs 35-7 in the second half
“It’s not offense and a defense and special teams that win championships,” Monaco said. “It’s teams, and until we find a way to put that team thing together, we’re going to be on the losing end of close ones.”
Freshman Markell Simmons finished with three interceptions and one touchdown. Townsend scored two touchdowns and freshman Donovan Moore scored one. Moore was named TEP Aztec Player of the week after the game.
Monaco was pleased with his team on the road trip, especially the freshmen.
“I’ll tell you, our freshman are carrying this team right now,” he said. “Our upperclassmen need to continue to get better, and I’ve told them that, but our freshmen are playing amazing.”
The team has a bye on Sept. 20, and next plays Arizona Western College in Yuma on Sept. 27.
Sept. 20: Bye week
Sept. 27: @ Arizona Western College, Yuma, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4: Scottsdale CC @ Sahuarita High School, 7 p.m.
By BETO HOYOS
Freshman slot receiver Donovan Moore has always been sociable, and says he couldn’t change if he tried.
“I’m very outgoing” he said. “I like to learn about people and their backgrounds and where they came from. It’s just interesting.”
Moore credits his supportive family for helping him succeed, and said he appreciates the strict manner in which his parents raised him and his siblings.
“My dad rode us hard but made us who we are now,” he said. “It was a very strict but very good household.”
Athleticism and competitiveness run deep in Moore’s DNA. His mother played softball and his father ran track and played football. His older brother, Rayvean, plays wide receiver for the New Mexico State Aggies.
Moore said his earliest memory of playing football was when he was 3 years old. He later played with older kids.
“I was always playing two divisions higher as a kid, but now I’m on an even playing field and I feel like I got to step above people,” he said.
This season, Moore has grown into a position he wasn’t used to playing.
“I was always a quarterback,” he said. “I really started to make the transition this year.”
Moore said the transition to receiver from quarterback wasn’t difficult. He occasionally played receiver in high school, including his freshman year at Mountain View. He later transferred to Tucson Magnet High School.
Moore’s speed, mobility and football IQ brought him high school success.
“I was a pretty mobile quarterback, like a Michael Vick, that’s a good example,” he said jokingly.
There was never any doubt Moore would be a college athlete.
“When you begin playing as a kid with better competition, you condition a certain mentality that doesn’t let you lose,” he said. “It made me push that much harder.”
He was named Pima’s power player of the week Sept. 8 after scoring two touchdowns at New Mexico Military Institute. He finished the game with 21 rushing yards on five carries and 98 receiving yards on 11 catches.
Moore takes his education just as seriously as his game.
“It’s not just sports, honestly,” he said. “It’s having that education that’s going to further me.”
He would like to pursuit a degree in either business or athletic physical therapy, but isn’t in a hurry to decide.
“Right now it’s just Pima football,” he said. “I’m focused on that and whatever the Lord has for me after this, then we’ll see where it takes me.”
He would like to stick around football but is hesitant about coaching.
“I’ve seen my dad and all these coaches go through it and stressing out, and I don’t want to get gray hair,” he said with a laugh.
In his spare time, Moore enjoys hanging out with teammates and listening to music.
“I listen to pretty much anything,” he said. “I listen to country, rap, a lot of old stuff. Some of my favorite artists are Wu-tang Clan, Biggie, Tupac, Rakim.”
Before a game, Moore prefers calm and collected rather than pumped and energetic.
“I’ll listen to some Drake here and there but I listen to a lot of Pac and Biggie,” he said.
Head coach Jim Monaco is proud of Moore and Pima’s other first-year players.
“Right now our freshmen are doing a phenomenal job and Donovan is a huge part of that,” he said.
“He’s a wonderful guy,” Monaco added. “After our last loss he came to me after the game and put his arm around me and said, ‘Coach, you don’t deserve this.’”
By BETO HOYOS
The Pima Community College football team started the season with a win, but lost to a tough opponent in its home opener.
New head coach Jim Monaco encourages fans to attend games and watch a program that keeps improving.
“People can expect to see a high-powered offense and an aggressive defense,” he said.
Freshman Kian Homme has been named the starting quarterback after much preseason deliberation.
“He’s going to make a Division I program very proud one day,” Monaco said.
Homme has shown a positive attitude, a desire to win and a strong work ethic, Monaco said.
“Coaches like to coach him and we all think the world of the kid,” he said. “He’s a very bright young man, and so far he’s been great.”
The Aztecs lost 21-7 in their Aug. 30 home game against Eastern Arizona College.
Pima scored in the first quarter when sophomore Kendall Huey returned a recovered fumble for a 31-yard touchdown. Eastern scored on its next possession to tie the game at 7-7, then scored 14 points in the second quarter.
Both offenses struggled after halftime and neither team scored in the second half.
Eastern’s strong defense made it hard for the Aztecs to make any kind of run. Pima had three turnovers-on-downs and three punts.
Late in the third quarter, the Aztecs were five yards from scoring but a penalty pushed the Aztecs back to the 19. After two incomplete passes, they turned the ball over on downs.
Pima picked up its first win of the season on the road Aug. 23, defeating Phoenix College 36-19.
After a scoreless first quarter, freshman Deontay Townsend scored on a 38-yard touchdown run.
Sophomore Tanner Fanning kicked a 29-yard field goal, but Phoenix College ran back an interception for a pick six.
In the second half, Homme connected with freshman Donovan Moore twice for two touchdowns. That total gave the Aztecs more touchdown passes than all of last season.
The first aerial connection was a 73-yard reception to make the score 15-6. Phoenix College scored late in the third quarter, but Homme and Moore connected again 30 seconds into the fourth with a 28-yard pass.
Freshman Markell Simmons, who was named TEP Aztec Power Player of the Week, intercepted a tip-pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown that increased Pima’s lead to 29-13. Sophomore running back Antony Thompson scored on a 1-yard run with 5:59 left in the game.
Huey’s defensive work included three sacks, a forced fumble, nine tackles (seven solo) and four tackles for loss.
Monaco said players are growing into leadership roles and familiarizing themselves with his system.
Huey, who was named TEP power player of the week after the Phoenix College game, has impressed his coach and will likely carry a heavier load this season.
“We’re looking forward to Kendall stepping up,” Monaco said.
The coach also has his eye on sophomore linebackers Thomas Romack and Isaac Chacon. “We’re looking to get some real sophomore leadership out of them,” he said.
Monaco has been pleased with what he’s seen from Thompson.
“He’s doing a great job,” he said. “He ran for 140 yards or something like that the other night.”
The defense showed great form during the Phoenix game, Monaco added. “We had seven sacks. I’d sign up right now to duplicate that again.”
By JAIME HERNANDEZ
Assistant coach Jim Monaco was named Pima Community College’s interim head football coach on Dec. 9, after head coach Pat Nugent announced his resignation.
Monaco recently set aside time from a busy schedule to discuss his background and his vision for the football program.
Q: Where did you grow up playing football?
A: Lynn English High School in Lynn, Mass. It’s a small town right outside of Boston. I also played at the University of New Haven. After four knee surgeries, plus ankle and hip surgery, I was done my sophomore year.
Q: How long have you been coaching football and what was your last coaching job before you became an assistant at Pima?
A: I’ve been coaching now going on my 30th year. I coached at Desert View before I came to Pima. Our first year we were 5-5. We started off 5-1. They hadn’t won five games in the previous seven years and we managed to do that for quite a while.
Q: How did you feel when you found out you got the head coaching job at Pima, even though it has the word ‘interim’ tied to it?
A: I was jacked. This is going to be my last gig. I know there was an interim tag. However, there were still 28 applicants, gosh, a ton from out of state, and I managed to do it.
I also look at it as a tryout. I tell these kids when I recruit them, it’s opportunities. You can’t turn your back on opportunities, because you never know how many you are going to get.
Q: What did you learn under Nugent?
A: Coach Nugent was very dynamic in the way he set up practice. His passing tournaments were very detail-oriented. It’s those kinds of things that I’m trying to steal. Nobody comes up with anything new, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. Nugent was very meticulous in the way he ran the program, and that’s what I tried to pick up on as much as possible.
Q: What aspect of the program needs improving, and how do you plan on doing that?
A: The offense was a sore spot for us last year. I’m not going to sit here and say we lost games because of our offense, because we didn’t. I don’t think we capitalized enough. I think there was a little too much strife with the offensive staff. So, we started there.
We brought in a few new people who are amazing, who coached here at Pima back in the day. I think offensively we need to gel, we need to work together as a staff. You don’t always have to agree, but when you walk out of that door you need to be on the same page.
Q: What are your short-term and long-term goals for the football program?
A: You know, I have an issue with long-term and short-term goals. They have a tendency to run into each other.
Short-term goal is, we need to continue winning, we need to fix our grades.
We have to have our students passing, because I don’t believe that one is more important than the other. When you’re here at Pima, you are expected to be a student and a football player — not one or the other.
Long term, this school has to get back to winning. It has to get back to supporting itself.
We have to fund raise and get people in the community excited about Pima football again. We moved into the new soccer stadium at Kino, and my goal is to have a bowl game there.
By JAIME HERNANDEZ
More than 65 potential players and their parents came to see what Pima Community College has to offer when interim head football coach Jim Monaco held his first-ever recruiting day on Jan. 11.
It was the first major event the football program has hosted since Monaco was named the interim coach on Dec. 9.
Pima is looking to fill 50-60 roster spots for the upcoming fall season. Coaches would like to start fall camp with about 90 players.
Recruiting is what Monaco loves to do and what he does best, but being the man in charge makes it a little different from the days in 2004 when he was the recruiting coordinator under Pima head coach Jeff Scurran.
“Being the boss is really different,” Monaco said. “I’m doing a lot more delegating than before, but I know I have an amazing coaching staff that has a ton of experience doing this thing.”
In addition to potential recruits, coaches such as Sahuarita High School head football coach David Rodriguez attended to show support for Pima’s football program.
“It is so important that Pima not only maintains, but thrives, for all of southern Arizona,” Rodriguez said.
“Coach Monaco is a dear friend of mine,” he added. “We’ve known each other for over 10 years and coached together in different spots. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe in what he was doing.”
The recruiting day drew prospects from all over the country, but most were Tucson students seeking to continue their playing careers a bit longer.
Cienega High School running back Christian Nash and linebacker Logan Jones said they were extremely excited to play for Monaco.
“I like the weight room here, and I love the community here,” Nash said. “It just seems like everything really fits well together.”
Jones said he attended because Pima coaches emailed and called.
“Touring this campus, I like what I see,” he said. “The football program looks nice and I really like the weight room.”
Pima had 29 verbal commits at press time, with more expected.
Monaco said he is very pleased with how the team is shaping up, and will be excited to see how the team looks when it’s finally put together.
By JAIME HERNANDEZ
It’s been a little more than a month since Pat Nugent resigned as Pima Community College’s head football coach.
The search for his replacement came to an end on Dec. 5, when PCC announced the hiring of former assistant coach Jim Monaco as the Aztec’s newest football coach.
The hiring is on an interim basis and still needs to be approved by Pima’s governing board.
Monaco has been Pima’s defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator for the past two seasons.
A majority of the football staff wanted to see Monaco get the job, based on interviews conducted by Aztec Press.
Athletic Director Edgar Soto interviewed many qualified candidates, and felt that Monaco was the best choice.
“Coach Monaco has done an outstanding job here at Pima Community College,” Soto said.“He has a passion that is unparalleled when it comes to coaching football.”
By JAIME HERNANDEZ
The Pima Community College football team finished the season 5-5, marking the first time since 2003 that the Aztecs did not have a losing record.
Pima closed out the season Nov. 9 with a 38-22 win over No. 7 Arizona Western College in the final game of the playoffs’ consolation bracket.
The No. 5 Aztecs entered the game undermanned, with the defense missing five starters.
“They played amazing,” head coach Pat Nugent said. “I have to thank all the coaches and players for getting up for this game and giving their all.”
Sophomore Dominic Grigsby led the Aztecs with 86 yards on 16 carries, with two touchdowns.
Sophomore quarterback Tyler D’Amore finished his Pima career with a bang, leading the Aztecs to four touchdown drives during the first half.
“I just got a hot hand and started seeing things really well,” D’Amore said. “We were firing on all cylinders today. The Pima Aztecs are coming up, and people better watch out.”
Looking back on his Pima career, D’Amore has nothing but fond memories.
“You say ‘family’ as a slogan but you don’t really understand the concept of it until that last game and you see what all you’ve done,” D’Amore said. “ I spent the last six months with these guys, and I’m gonna miss the relationships I had with all of them.”
On Nov. 2, Pima lost 31-6 to Glendale Community College in the first round of the playoffs.
Glendale clearly didn’t forget the beatdown Pima gave them several weeks before, and wanted to return the favor.
Pima started the game on a good note when sophomore Kevin Snead recovered a muffed punt to give the Aztecs a first down on Glendale’s 10-yard line. Three plays later, D’Amore scored on a one-yard touchdown run.
After that play, the train fell off the tracks for the Aztecs. Glendale scored the remaining 31 points of the game and completely dominated both sides of the ball.
“They ran the piss out of the ball,” Nugent said. “They came right at us. They didn’t have to throw the ball this time around, so we couldn’t force any turnovers.”
Pima injured defensive players were not able to play, which contributed to the defensive problems.
The offense struggled as well.
“They were really good at their blitzes and assignments today,” D’Amore said. “They gave us a lot of confusing looks and we couldn’t execute our game plan. When that happens, you lose.”
By JAIME HERNANDEZ
The Pima Community College football team fell to New Mexico Military Institute 51-28 on Oct. 19 in the final regular game of the season.
“We just didn’t show up,” head coach Pat Nugent said. “I don’t know if it was the long travel time or what, but we didn’t bring it.”
New Mexico took a 24-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. At the half, the lead was 31-14. New Mexico continued the dominating play in the second half to finish off the game.
Freshman running back Kevionte Alexander had two rushing touchdowns for the Aztecs, scoring on 1-yard and 5-yard runs.
Sophomore wide receiver Chris Mays caught a 42-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Jack Nyakza.
Freshman Levonte Little John scored with a 60-yard run.
Sophomore defensive back Mitch Fischer had an interception in the game.
With the loss, the Aztecs fell to 4-4 and were in fifth place in their conference. They will play in the consolation bracket of the playoffs.
“Even though we didn’t make the main playoffs, the goal is still our record,” Nugent said. “We can give Pima our first winning record in years, and recruits love that.”
Pima will host Glendale Community College in the first round of the consolation playoffs on Nov. 2 at 1:30 p.m. at Kino Stadium. The Aztecs will play again on Nov. 9.
By JAIME HERNANDEZ
The Pima Community College Aztecs fell to the Eastern Arizona College Gila Monsters 10-7 on Oct. 12 in their last home game of the season.
The loss eliminated Pima from the winner’s bracket playoffs.
The game was a defensive battle throughout. Eastern got on the board first, scoring a touchdown with 45 seconds left in the second quarter.
On Pima’s next possession, sophomore quarterback Tyler D’Amore threw an interception that put Eastern within field goal range.
Eastern missed the 51-yard field goal, and the ball fell into the hands of Pima sophomore defensive back Mikell Everette. He ran 102 yards for a touchdown as the quarter ended.
Eastern scored a 22-yard field goal late in the third quarter to seal the win.
The Aztecs had several opportunities to take the lead late in the game, but couldn’t capitalize. Their last offensive possession ended with D’Amore fumbling the ball at Eastern’s 43-yard line with two minutes to go.
“I was trying to make a play at the end of the game,” D’Amore said. “I take full responsibility for it and I just need to throw the ball away in that situation.”
Head coach Pat Nugent praised the defensive play. “Anytime you hold your opponent to 10 points, you’re doing something right, but our offense needs to play better,” he said.
Pima finished with 108 yards on the ground and 93 yards passing for the game.
“Terrible performance by our offense,” Nugent said. “We couldn’t get anything going. They controlled the line of scrimmage the entire game.”
D’Amore said the Aztecs had a hard time finding their rhythm. “Ever since the Scottsdale game, we just can’t seem to find our offensive rhythm.”
Added freshman offensive guard Louis Aldridge, “We just didn’t play like ourselves today. I’m not sure what happened.”
Pima will close out the regular season Oct. 19 at the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, N.M. A win would give them a .500 record finish for the regular season.
The Aztecs will then play in the consolation playoff bracket, where they could potentially finish the season with their first winning record in more than 10 years.
“We just need to put some points on the board,” Everette said. “We gotta go hard and play defense like we did today and we will come away with the win.”
By JAIME HERNANDEZ
The Pima Community College football team destroyed Glendale Community College 33-17 on Sept. 28.
Pima’s defense dominated the game for the second straight week.
The Aztecs forced 10 turnovers in the game. Nine were interceptions, which is a new Pima single-game record.
“I’ve never in my life seen nine interceptions in a game,” head coach Pat Nugent said. “Our defense played amazing. It was clearly the best performance they have had since I’ve been coaching here.”
The defense was lead by sophomores Mitch Fischer and Eddie Releford. Each player returned an interception for a touchdown.
The Aztec defense notched another touchdown when Patrick Mulrow scored on a 14-yard fumble recovery.
Sophomore quarterback Tyler D’Amore had 102 yards passing and freshman quarterback Jack Nykaza passed for 42 yards.
The Aztecs’ ground attack was lead by sophomore Seth Ellis. He recorded 34 yards on 11 carries, and scored a touchdown. Freshman Dominck Grigsby also had a rushing touchdown.
“Our offense didn’t have their best performance,” Nugent said. “We missed a lot of assignments and got a little complacent, but it’s nothing we can’t fix.”
The Aztecs now have a 3-3 conference record, and are fighting to get into the top four of the conference standings to make the playoffs. They are in fifth place, one game behind Mesa.
“We’re sitting in a good spot right now,” Nugent said. “As long as New Mexico Military loses one more game and we win out, we will be in the playoffs.”
On Sept. 21, Pima fell to Scottsdale Community College 35-28.
The Aztecs dominated two of three phases of the game. That would result in a victory most of the time, but Pima allowed a kick return and a punt return to go for touchdowns.
“It’s a tough loss to take,” Nugent said. “Anytime you dominate a game like that and still lose it really hurts, but they are still a lot of positives we can take away from this game moving forward.
“The most positive thing we can take away is that we outplayed the best team in our conference,” he added. “We had 571 yards of total offense, and we held the best offense in the nation to 343 yards. The confidence level of our kids is really high right now.”
In the first half, the Artichokes held a 28-14 lead. Fourteen of those points came from Scottsdale sophomore Teddy Rubin, who had a 57-yard punt return and a 96-yard kick return.
The Aztecs were led by the play of their two quarterbacks, Nykaza and D’Amore. Both players had two rushing touchdowns.
D’Amore threw for 170 yards and gained 28 yards on seven carries.
Nykaza got the Aztecs on the board with a 2-yard score with 5:21 left in the first quarter. He scored
again on a 1-yard run in the third quarter.
Nykaza threw for 165 yards and had one interception. He had four carries for negative-four yards.
Releford and Fischer led the Aztecs in tackles with seven each.
(Editor’s note: The print version of Aztec Press inaccurately stated the final score as 37-17. We apologize for the error.)
Oct. 12: Eastern Arizona College, Kino Stadium, 1:30 p.m.
By JAIME HERNANDEZ
Pima Community College took down perennial NJCAA powerhouse Snow College 21-14 on Sept. 14. The Aztecs went down 14-0 early in the first half before Pima running back Seth Ellis scored the first of his three touchdowns from 27 yards out right before the first half ended.
Ellis then racked up two more TDs in the second half, the last one coming with less than two minutes remaining in the game. Pima’s defense did the rest, holding Snow College out of the end zone to seal the game for the Aztecs.
By JAIME HERNANDEZ
Pima Community College football head coach Patrick Nugent is heading into his fifth season. In his first four years, Nugent compiled a 8-35 record but the wins and losses don’t tell the whole story.
In the five years before Nugent arrived, the Aztecs went 1-50. In the years since, the team’s record has slowly improved. In addition, Nugent has placed three of his players into major college programs and another 12 into four-year universities.
Granted it’s not the same as going 72-30, which was his record at Canyon del Oro High School while he was the head coach there, but Nugent insists he’s where he wants to be.
“The level of play is so much higher here at the junior college level than it is at the high school level,” he said.
The talent pool isn’t as rich in southern Arizona as it is in the Phoenix area. Community college coaches there can recruit at more than 100 high schools.
Despite that disadvantage, Nugent manages to find diamonds in the rough and turn them into Division 1-caliber players.
Examples include defensive back Darius Kelly, who received a scholarship to Syracuse University in New York, and defensive tackle Maurice Chavis, who is now playing at University of Texas-El Paso.
Nugent said this year’s team looks to have to more high-quality players than any of his previous teams. He praised sophomore players such as offensive lineman Quincey Davison, linebacker Eddie Releford, and defensive backs Mitch Fischer, Patrick Mulrow and Mikell Everett.
Even though it seems the defense has the most talent, the offensive side has the most experience. A majority of the players on that side of the ball have returned this year to play again for the Aztecs.
Sophomore returnees include running back Seth Ellis, quarterback Tyler D’Amore and three offensive linemen.
A freshman, Jack Nykaza, will also see lots of playing time because Nugent has decided to use a two-quarterback system this year.
“They both are gonna see a lot of playing time,” Nugent said of D’Amore and Nykaza.
“As the game goes on, we will stay with whoever has the hot hand,” Nugent said. “You hope, though, as the season goes on one player will separate himself from the other and we will stick with him.”
Though the Aztecs finished 1-10 last year, they played competitively in every game. In seven of their 10 losses, they had the lead going into the fourth quarter but couldn’t find a way to hold on.
“Learning how to win is the most difficult thing a player has to learn,” Nugent said. “Hopefully they can apply what they learned from what they went through last year and apply it to this season.”
The Aztecs have started this season 1-1.
In the second game of the season on Aug. 31, the Aztecs defeated Phoenix College 20-17.
Freshman running back Anthony Thompson scored on a touchdown run, and the Aztecs entered halftime with a 9-6 deficit.
D’Amore gave Pima the lead when he scored touchdown runs on the Aztec’s first two possessions of the second half. He first ran a 71-yard keeper, then made a 2-yard run after Phoenix College fumbled its punt.
Phoenix College used a blocked punt to bring the score to 20-17 with 4:10 left in the third quarter, but the Pima defense halted the next three Phoenix possessions. Sophomore Mikell Everette, who had two interceptions in the game, broke up a pass to end the final threat.
On Aug. 24, Pima lost its first game 34-7 to powerhouse Arizona Western College in Yuma. Thompson scored the Aztecs’ lone touchdown.
The Aztecs will play their home opener against Mesa Community College on Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. at Kino Memorial Veterans Stadium complex, 2500 E. Ajo Way. Admission costs $5 general, $3 for students.