Walden Grove linebacker Izzy Calvillo is hitting a tackling dummy here, but soon he’ll be doing the real thing as he tries to help the Red Wolves reach the playoffs for the first time. Walden Grove went 5-2 with Calvillo in the lineup after starting 0-3 last season.

Mike Christy /
Arizona Daily Star

Over the last three weeks, the Star has featured some of Southern Arizona’s top high school football players. Our series concludes today with Izzy Calvillo, who could help Walden Grove reach the state playoffs for the first time.

Izzy Calvillo

The rundown: Izzy Calvillo, FB/LB, 5-10, 200, Walden Grove, senior

Who he is: “A 25-year-old man in an 18-year-old’s body,” Red Wolves coach Chris Sargent says. Calvillo is gearing up for his first full season with Walden Grove after playing in seven games a year ago. Calvillo started his high school career at Sunnyside, and led the Blue Devils in tackles as a sophomore. He has transitioned seamlessly with Walden Grove as he was named the Division IV, Section II defensive player of the year in 2013. Calvillo is a “downhill” player with a deep understanding of the game. What he may lack in straight-line speed, he makes up for with instincts and intensity. As the anchor of the defense last season, Calvillo averaged more than 18 tackles per game, including 22 tackles and four sacks in his first game, a

27-10 win at Douglas. Calvillo will also be the centerpiece of the offense as a blocking back.

Proof he’s good: Sargent calls Calvillo the best player he has ever coached or coached against in his six years in the area. Walden Grove went 5-2 with Calvillo in the lineup after starting 0-3 without him. Walden Grove has gone 5-5 in each of its first two seasons but Sargent is hoping Calvillo finally gets them over the hump. He increased his bench and squat maximums above 300 and 400 pounds, respectively. He is hoping a full year and another strong showing will help make his dream of playing in college a reality. Over the summer, Calvillo attended prospect camps at Western New Mexico and Arizona Christian University. He has also received interest from Division III Grinnell College in Iowa and the University of Redlands in California.

He said it: “When nobody is watching, he’s working. He continues to get stronger and faster.

So basically you’re getting

a better version of the defensive player from last year. That’s exciting for us and probably really sucks for a lot of other people.”

– Sargent

— Jason Harris