Peter Bernal 520.979.4691

Jim Monaco’s stomach is hurting.

Tums won’t help. Neither will Pepto-Bismol.

So, what’s the prescription?

More football.

Pima College’s first-year coach is ready to get things going.

“Am I sick to my stomach all the time now?” said Monaco, who was the coach at Desert View from 2006 to 2011. “Yes I am. Having been a head coach in high school, you’re nervous trying to get things going, but at this level, and at this program, at this time in its existence, I’m sick to my stomach a lot.

“It’s been great for me. I’ve lost like 20 pounds.”

Today, the Aztecs open camp and start practices in their first season PN — Post Nugent.

Pat Nugent resigned as Pima’s coach in November after five years at the helm. His last year was his best one, as the Aztecs went 5-5, their first season of .500 or better since a 9-3 mark in 2004.

But now a lot has changed, and it starts at the top with Monaco.

“I can’t wait for Friday so we can get stuff on,” Monaco said Wednesday. “We’ve got some fantastic football players, and we’re hoping to build on what we started with Coach Nugent.”

Here are the two biggest storylines to watch for as camp opens up for Pima. The Aztecs begin the season on Aug. 23 at Phoenix College.

Man in the middle

Natrell Curtis certainly had options.

The Phoenix Mountain Pointe High School product had offers from Arizona, ASU, Arkansas, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Washington. He committed to play for the Sooners. In early June, Curtis had a change of heart.

Now he’s an Aztec.

“Well, Coach Monaco reached out to me,” Curtis said.

“I heard a lot from my teammates who came down here, and then I came down here and fell in love with the place.”

Monaco added: “He should be playing in the Big 12. Selfishly, I’m very happy he’s not.”

Curtis, listed at 6 feet 3 inches and 325 pounds, will play defensive tackle for Pima. He was recruited as an offensive lineman out of high school.

With Curtis clogging up the middle, Monaco also expects a big season from Kendall Huey, a sophomore defensive end who recorded 22 tackles and a sack last year.

QB competition

Monaco is an excitable person, particularly when it comes to Pima football. It’s hard for him not get jazzed up.

But, mention the batch of quarterbacks he has at his disposal, and he’s even more smiley.

“They’re going to take some time,” Monaco said. “But we have a few kids that can compete at that level. The winner is going to be a real good QB.”

One is Rasheem Parks, from Las Vegas, who was on the team last year but was forced to redshirt because of injury. Monaco is also impressed by Drew Doxtator.

Doxtator is 6 feet 3 inches and 221 pounds, comes from Henderson, Nevada, and was rated a three-star quarterback by He had offers from Colorado State, New Mexico, San Jose State, UNLV and Utah State, but chose Pima.

“He’s a great attitude,” Monaco said. “He gets a little pissed off for a QB. He wants to be the man here.”

Monaco also spoke highly of 6-foot-5-inch Kian Homme from New Mexico and Redmond Delmar from Kayenta.