Since the beginning of August and through Friday, the Star is featuring some of Southern Arizona’s top high school football players to watch this fall. Our series continues today with Anthony Peralta, who grew up learning all about Sunnyside’s tradition and is trying to carry it on.

Anthony Peralta

The rundown: ATH/OLB/SS, 5-6, 145, Sunnyside, senior

  • Who he is: The epitome of what it means to be a member of the Sunnyside football team. Peralta is tough, undersized and the heartbeat of the Blue Devils. He can remember roaming the sidelines on Friday nights back when he was a child, as his uncle Richard Sanchez regularly led Sunnyside to victory, and his cousin, Philo Sanchez, rushed for nearly 2,500 yards and led the Blue Devils to a state championship in 2001. Fourth-year coach Glenn Posey, who has known Peralta since birth, joked he’ll only get to see the senior at halftime and at the end of the game since he will be on the field at all times. Posey plans on having Peralta at running back, slot receiver, linebacker and safety. The only positions ruled out for Peralta are offensive and defensive line. Peralta’s heart and determination outweigh his size. Though he’s just 145 pounds, Peralta is an absolute animal in the weight room and can push more weight than some of the lineman. He recently maxed his squat at 500
  • pounds, and power-cleaned 330.
  • Despite his small frame, Peralta has a shot at playing in college. He has received some attention from some Division II and III schools, with NAIA schools in the mix as well. Posey has some coaching ties in the Tennessee area, and Austin Peay is one school on his radar.
  • Proof he’s good:
  • Tradition. Peralta does things exactly how his relatives did during Sunnyside’s prime, and he always goes to them when he has questions. This summer, Philo Sanchez helped Peralta getting in and out of his cuts and heading up the field quicker with ladder and cone drills. Though he thrives on the run support, Peralta has been working on his man coverage skills, trying to become a better reactionary player. Peralta showed flashes of what he’s capable of doing in a larger role in a game early in 2013 against Glendale Ironwood. He finished the night with four carries for 86 yards, two catches for 49 yards and 12 total tackles. Last season, Peralta played safety and finished the year with a team-high 95 total tackles. He added three forced fumbles and two sacks. Peralta also ended up being the team’s punter out of necessity. It was a skill he learned long ago from his father, Tony, a longtime special teams coach for the Blue Devils.
  • He said it: “He’s someone who has bought into the program. He’s made a full commitment and, as a coach, I couldn’t ask for much more of him. He’s got that family pressure with Richard being his uncle, but he wants that pressure, too. There were no signs he was going to be a superstar player, but when Philo was at this stage in his career, it wasn’t there either. You didn’t know he was going to break out.” — Posey