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It only took a couple hours for six months’ work to come crashing down around Dezmen Roebuck and his Marana High School football teammates. Just a couple weeks earlier, the Tigers seemed like a sure bet to make it to the state tournament. They sat in the 10th spot in the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Power Point rankings and it seemed doubtful that they could drop from 10th to below 16th in just a couple weeks, especially considering the relative strength of their final two regular-season opponents.

“I don’t think we were overconfident,” says Roebuck, looking back at those final two weeks. “Coach (Patrick Steward) kept us focused. We had a few injuries and the other teams just got us.”

Those other teams, Cienega and Ironwood Ridge (both with worse overall records than Marana) nevertheless jumped over the Tigers to reach the state tournament, which started last Friday. 

Roebuck feels the worst for the seniors. “We were all out there on that field all summer in the heat. We worked hard. We wanted to change what people thought of Marana football. Actually, I think we did that…” His voice trails off.

(Actually, Marana made it to state as recently as 2018, but for a high-school freshman, that was way back when he was in the 6th grade.)

Dezmen is the younger brother of last year’s Northwest Explorer Athlete of the Year, Isaiah Roebuck, who is now playing college football (and baseball) in North Dakota. He was a breakout star for this year’s football team and will certainly be a first-team All-Conference player, if not All-State. Not bad for a freshman. 

He suffered a bizarre injury early in the season when he pulled a muscle in his hip area, the result of making a sharp cut that was too sharp and too fast. He missed a game-and-a-half, but then came back strong. He made several dazzling catches and scored multipole touchdowns in helping the Tigers win seven of their first eight games.

Now that the season has come to an abrupt end, it’s on to the next challenge. He will be playing basketball, probably on the varsity team coached by his dad, Sean Roebuck. Because of low numbers at some Arizona schools (not at Marana), the AIA now allows players to participate in six quarters of competition in one day. Sean Roebuck says that Dezmen will probably play a couple quarters with fellow members of his freshman class on the JV-B and then all four quarters with the varsity. Will it be a problem playing for his father?

“No, my dad has been helping all of us become athletes our whole lives.” 

His sister, Makayla, is a starter on the Marana girls basketball team and his younger brother, Little Sean, was a star quarterback for the Marana Middle School football team this year. 

As Dezmen looks back on the football season and ahead to basketball, he says, “I just want to go to state in everything from now on, for the rest of high school.”

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