Pima College notebook: For Aztec defensive architect, 'it's time to win some games'

2013-08-20T00:00:00Z Pima College notebook: For Aztec defensive architect, 'it's time to win some games'Zack Rosenblatt Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 20, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Things don't get much worse than 1-10.

Unless you count 2009, when Pima Community College ended up 0-10.

Last year, the Aztecs football team finished 1-10, its worst since that 0-10 record in head coach Pat Nugent's first year. Now, the Aztecs will open their season on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Arizona Western in Yuma.

Nugent and his staff are entering their fifth year at Pima, and they're looking for a bounce back from last year's letdown.

Pat Ryden has been the defensive coordinator on Nugent's staff for the last four years, and was his assistant for a long time when Nugent was head coach at Canyon del Oro and Flowing Wells high schools. Ryden was the head coach at Rincon/University for two years before he joined Nugent at Pima in 2009.

The Star spoke with Ryden to get his thoughts on the upcoming season, and reflect a bit on his last five years at Pima.

So, what are your expectations for this season?

A: "Well, our expectation as long as we've been here is to win, and we haven't done that. So we'll just try to get better every week and cut down on mistakes, and grow as a football team. We're gonna have some growing pains, but I still expect us to compete."

Why did you decide to leave a head coaching job (at Rincon) to become an assistant at Pima?

A: "It was an opportunity to coach college football. I think that was probably number 1, number 2 was an opportunity to get back to coaching with Coach Nugent. Coach Nugent and I have been together a long time. We worked together at Flowing Wells and CDO and I understand what to expect from him. I think that was the main thing that pulled me away from that job."

When you and Coach Nugent came to Pima five years ago, what did you hope to accomplish in taking the job?

A: "Well, the program had been down for several years (Pima went 2-36 from 2005-08) and so, again, our goal was to come in and win games and go to bowl games.

"I'm not gonna lie to you, it's been a little more difficult than we thought it was gonna be. There was definitely a lot of learning for us those first few years, and we had to make some adjustments from high school to junior college football."

"But, our goals are still the same. We want to get better. I think our program is definitely a lot better than it was five years ago, although we don't have many wins to show it. I think we've made a lot of progress. I think it's time to win some games."

Who do you expect to lead the defense this year? Coach Nugent mentioned sophomore safety Mitch Fischer, an Ironwood Ridge High grad.

A: I'd second that. This is Mitch's make or break year. We've really tried to get that point across to him if he wants to move on to the next level. I think he has the ability to be big-time player."

Other stuff

• Sophomore receiver Denzel Jones, rated a two-star by Rivals, said that he's received interest from BYU. Also, Nugent said last week that sophomore tight end Emanuel Simpson, a Rivals three-star, has been getting some looks from Indiana.

• Pima will play host to the NJCAA Region 1 Cross Country Championships, taking place on Oct. 28 at El Rio Golf Course.

Pima Sports this week

Thursday

• Women's soccer: season opener against Glendale Community College in Phoenix. 4:30 p.m.

• Men's soccer: season opener against GCC in Phoenix. 7 p.m.

Friday

• Volleyball: two-day NMMI Classic Tournament in Roswell, N.M. Time TBA.

Saturday

• Football: season opener at Arizona Western in Yuma. 7 p.m.

• Women's soccer: against Chandler-Gilbert Community College at Kino. 4:30 p.m.

• Men's soccer: against Chandler-Gilbert. 7 p.m.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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