FC Tucson

OK, so the University of Arizona football team is 0-4 and possibly heading for its second straight winless season (that’s actually hard to do). Wildcat basketball is on the horizon, but they have a new, untested coach, some serious NCAA punishment headed its way, and a lineup  consisting of guys who inspire fans to blurt, “Are you sure that’s him? Let me see the program.”

But that doesn’t mean that all is bleak. There are some really good things happening in local sports. For example:

• While the Wildcats haven’t won a game, the Marana Tigers haven’t lost a game. In fact, Coach Patrick Steward’s squad has been hammering people. After squeaking by in-District foe Mountain View, 13-12 in the opener, it has been pedal to the metal ever since. Heading into last week’s game with Desert View, Marana had outscored its three previous opponents by a combined score of 165-14. 

For unknown reasons, the AIA won’t release their first set of Power Points rankings until next week, Oct. 12. (I personally think that it’s so people won’t see how flawed the Power Points system is, especially early in a season.) When those rankings are unveiled, look for the Tigers to be among the Top 5 teams in the state in the 5A.

• Back in mid-August, FC Tucson (the Old Pueblo’s pro soccer team) had just suffered a humiliating own-goal loss and was listing badly, sitting in 11th place in the 12-team USL League One standings. Their record was a dreadful 4-4-8. In soccer, it’s wins, then ties (draws), then losses. Why they do it that way is anybody’s guess. It was probably invented in a country where chickens walk down the middle of the street.

Anyway, since that low point, FC Tucson has absolutely exploded. They haven’t lost a game since then, winning five times to go along with two draws. They have moved from 11th place up to third in the standings and, if the season were to end today, they would be hosting a playoff game. But the season isn’t ending today. They still have four games to go, including three at home.

Last Saturday, they wore special “El Jefe” kits in honor of the elusive jaguar that has been spotted (no pun intended) in the Tucson Mountains. After home games on Oct. 13 and 16, they will wrap up the regular season with a wild night against Richmond on Oct. 30. The finale will be Fan Appreciation Night, with nods toward Halloween and Dia De Los Muertos thrown in for good measure.

If FC Tucson can hang on to the third spot (or even fourth), they will host a first-round playoff game on Nov. 6. They are currently in a precarious position, sitting just one point ahead of the fourth-place team, two ahead of the fifth-place team, and just three points ahead of the six-place squad. However, their final five games are against teams that are currently in sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and 12th places. If they can hold serve, it will be a bright finish to what was once headed to being a dismal season.

• The Canyon Del Oro girls’ volleyball team is undefeated in the regular season, with a dazzling 12-0 record. But that’s not all. The Dorados have won all 12 best-of-five matches by scores of 3-0; no one has managed to even take one game from them. But, even THAT’s not all. Even great volleyball teams will give up double-digit points in a game, winning 25-15 or so. Canyon Del Oro is winning games with scores of 25-4 and 25-6.

According to the AIA website, in only three of their 36 games has CDO’s opponent made it into the 20s. That’s domination. (Tanque Verde lost a game to CDO by the score of 32-30, but then scored 17 and 14 points, respectively, in the other two games.)

Canyon Del Oro is currently ranked third in the State.

• Up at the higher level, the University of Arizona volleyball team is enjoying a return to prominence. The Wildcat women struggled last year, finishing 10-11, with a very-young team and under very cumbersome COVID restrictions. 

So far this year, the UA is 10-3 overall and a perfect 2-0 in Pac-12 play. The Cats lost to Notre Dame and UTEP by 3-2 scores. (UTEP is currently 11-2 and having its best season ever). The only other loss was by 3-1 to Texas, which is the Number 1 team in the entire country. In those three losses, the UA scored 21, 22, and 22 points, respectively. 

The conference season is always a grind, but unless the Cats completely fall apart, they should be heading back to the NCAA Tournament at the end of the season.

Now all we need is for the football team to win a game.

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