Gaona in the Game

Gaona in the Game: Sabino's Bushman says baseball a factor in college choice

2013-10-11T00:00:00Z Gaona in the Game: Sabino's Bushman says baseball a factor in college choiceBy Daniel Gaona Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Matt Bushman has always been a multisport athlete. He’s always seemingly on the field, on the court or in the weight room.

Don’t expect that to change after high school.

The Sabino senior football star is expected to announce Monday afternoon which college he plans to attend next fall. His three finalists — Arizona, BYU and Utah — have all offered Bushman a chance to play both baseball and football. Bushman received scholarship offers from nine programs, including Colorado, Duke and San Diego State.

“I think I want to play both (sports), and the school I’m planning on going to will let me play both,” said Bushman, who batted .438 and had 31 RBIs and eight home runs as a junior outfielder. “It’ll be tough, but it’ll be fun.”

BYU and Utah offered Bushman roster spots in both sports, while the UA has promised a full football scholarship and the willingness to work with him if he wants to play baseball.

Bushman, rated a three-star tight end by the

Scout.com recruiting service, grew up in New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina forced Bushman and his family to move to Houston when Matt was in the fourth grade.

The family stayed with a relative and eventually moved to Tucson, something they had been planning to do even before the storm.

“My parents tried to make it like a vacation for the kids, so we really didn’t have to think about it too much,” Bushman said.

Bushman’s older brother, Riley, was a sophomore in high school when the family moved. Riley joined the Sabino football team; that’s when coach Jay Campos got his first look at Matt.

“I saw Matt play in Pop Warner when he first got into town, and he was always a man amongst boys,” Campos said. “He stood out like a sore thumb and was always taller, faster and stronger than other kids his age.”

Monday’s expected decision won’t surprise anyone in Bushman’s inner circle. The Sabino star, who also played basketball for the Sabercats last season, has already told his family where he’ll attend.

Family may have already factored into his choice: Bushman’s uncle, Quinn Gooch, chose BYU over the UA after leading Sabino to a state championship in 1998.

In that regard, the Cougars have an edge. But, as Campos pointed out, both the UA and Utah have new state-of-the-art facilities.

Once Bushman chooses a school, he’ll be able to focus on the rest of his final football season. The Sabercats (4-2) have won three games in a row.

Bushman said he is extra hungry to make a run for a state title. He had 41 catches for 951 yards and 10 scores last year, and has been even better this season. Through six games, Bushman has caught 36 passes for 872 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has also played well at defensive end.

“I knew he was going to have a good season, but this year has been incredible,” Campos said. “We rely a lot on Matt; he’s done a great job as a leader and a football player for us.”

Former Lancer RB Peña receives big honor

Johnny Peña, a freshman at Brown University and Salpointe Catholic’s all-time leading rusher, was named one of five National High School Scholar-Athletes by the National Football Foundation on Wednesday.

Peña is the first player from Southern Arizona to receive the award, which recognizes players for their accomplishments on and off the field. Peña rushed for a career 4,765 yards and 64 total touchdowns while maintaining a 4.03 GPA.

The winners five will be recognized in December at the NFF Chapter Awards Luncheon in New York.

Meanwhile, Dylan Furrier, a sophomore at Division II Chadron State in Nebraska and one of Peña’s teammates at Salpointe, was named the RMAC defensive player of the week after registering a game-high 15 tackles in a 31-0 win over Adams State.

I-Ridge coach Johnson voted best in Arizona

With 21,917 votes, Ironwood Ridge’s Matt Johnson won the state round of USA Today’s Best High School Football Coach contest.

Peoria Centennial’s Richard Taylor finished second with 17,285 votes, and longtime coach Jeff Scurran, now at Catalina Foothills, finished third out of eight coaches from Arizona with 2,818 votes.

Johnson, among 51 coaches across the country to advance to the next round, is now squaring off against winners from Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana.

Fans can vote online at contest.usatodayhss.com through today.

Rattler Invite may be preview of sectionals

Runners from 36 cross country teams from around the state will flock to Marana High School on Saturday morning for the 12th annual Valerie McGregor Rattler Invitational.

The varsity girls race is set to go off at 8 a.m. with the boys starting 45 minutes later. On Nov. 2, 24 of the teams entered Saturday will return to the 3.1-mile course for their sectional state-qualifying meets.

MV hosting final volleyball tourney

The Lion’s Den Invitational, hosted by Mountain View High School today and Saturday, will be the final volleyball invitational in Southern Arizona this season before the state tournament begins in less than a month. There are 24 teams entered, including Tucson, Salpointe Catholic and Cienega, which all appear to be headed for state. Action begins at 11 a.m. today and 8 a.m. Saturday.

Buena cyclist Dory wins age group

Nash Dory, a sophomore at Sierra Vista Buena and a member of the school’s Mountain Bike Club, placed 14th out of nearly 300 riders last weekend in the 35-mile single-track category of the 18th annual Tour of the White Mountains.

Dory was first among junior males, finishing in

2 hours 52 minutes 49 seconds, more than 12 minutes ahead of the next finisher in his age group.

Contact high school sports coordinator Daniel Gaona at 807-7761 or dgaona@azstarnet.com. On Twitter @DanielGaona13

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