TUCSON, Ariz. — Arguably the proudest person in Arizona Stadium late Saturday night was not Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez or any member of his coaching staff. Maybe there was a parent or two whose heart was bouncing, but Canyon del Oro head football coach Dustin Peace was as proud as anyone.
He had just seen Arizona upset No. 18 Oklahoma State, 59-38, and had two former players — running back Ka’Deem Carey and safety Jared Tevis — who were instrumental in the defeat.
“I’d be interested to see if they get offensive and defensive players of the week,” said Peace on Sunday.
They’re certainly candidates. Tevis, a sophomore defensive back, had nine tackles, a pass breakup and two huge interceptions. Carey, another sophomore, had four touchdowns (three rushing and one receiving), finishing with 126 yards on 26 carries.
“It’s unbelievable what they are doing,” said Peace. “We are very proud of both of them. It’s been amazing to see the boys have such success so quickly. I’m their biggest fan.”
Peace has been there for every snap of both of the Wildcats’ two games this season.
“I’m just glad Coach Rodriguez and all of them have given them a shot,” he said. “That’s all they needed was a shot to prove themselves.”
Carey’s success isn’t all that surprising, as he came into his second season with big expectations after a stellar high school career at CDO. A 5-foot-10, 195-pound running back, came out of the prep ranks as one of the top running backs in Tucson history.
On Saturday night, Carey was bottled up early before breaking a 15-yard run. He followed it with a 25-yard run and then a spectacular 36-yarder on which he refused to go down, keeping his balance while using a defender’s back.
“I just had patience,” Carey said. “The front line pushed. We had conversations all night. Eventually they were going to break. Things finally broke. Once you touch that end zone one time, that’s when I felt real comfortable.”
Tevis, a 5-10, 200-pound safety, earned a scholarship last spring after walking on last year. Rodriguez said he likes Tevis because he works as hard as he hits.
Carey said he talks to Tevis all the time about how each game is an opportunity to play hard for the city, “putting it on our back and just (do well). Playing at CDO, that’s what we did. That’s what we bring to Arizona. I know what Tevis can do. I know what I can do on the offensive side.”
Another Arizona native also has played a key role in both UA victories. Inside linebacker Jake Fischer, an Ironwood Ridge grad, led the team in tackles for the second consecutive game against Oklahoma State, finishing with 14 the week after being named the Pac-12’s defensive player of the week.
“There is some very good high school football in this state,” Rodriguez said. “We want the best in Arizona to come to U of A. I don’t think there is a better option. … You can quote me with big ‘ol letters.” PLEASING THE BOSS
Waiting on the sidelines for the game to finish was an anxious and proud Greg Byrne, who 10 months earlier hired Rodriguez to become UA’s 30th head coach.
“Coach Rodriguez got such a great reception as the coach (when he was hired), “Byrne said, “and what he has been able to do — his staff is incredible. For everybody to be here together at Arizona is very good for us and good for our future.”