In the final 17 games of his football career at Tucson High, Joel Favara’s teams went 17-0, won two state championships and he was named the state’s Player of the Year.
This newspaper wrote: “Favara, Tucson’s magnificent scoring demon and defensive stalwart, is Arizona’s Class A MVP by a landslide.”
That 1952 team included star-level players who signed with Notre Dame, Illinois, Oklahoma, Arizona and Missouri. One team. It might’ve been the best-ever in Tucson.
“The bashful Badger was termed the finest performer ever to play for him by Red Greer,” the Star wrote, quoting the coach who had won multiple state championships over 18 years.
Not only that, after becoming a team captain at Oklahoma State in 1955, Favara returned to Arizona and coached Safford High School (10-0) to the 1962 state championship.
So it’s a bit overdue that it took Favara more than a half-century to be inducted into the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame; the ceremony is this afternoon.
Ever modest, Favara talks not about himself, but about fellow running back inductee, Joe Petroshus, the state’s 1968 football player of the year at Tucson High.
“It was a stretch to call me (the best),” Favara says now. “I appreciate all those comments, but Joe Petroshus was bigger and faster, so were a lot of guys to follow me. I’m fortunate to be included in his class.”
Petroshus was indeed in a select class. He set a state-record 2,718 career rushing yards and established the then-city record of 303 in a game against Pueblo. He was subject of a recruiting tug-of-war between Arizona and Oklahoma.
In the end, Favara’s career was done in by a fractured spine; Petroshus was never the same after breaking his ankle in his first week as a UA varsity running back.
But it’s fitting they are inducted together today; Favaro and Petroshus were the Ka’Deem Careys and Mario Bateses of an earlier era, state champs, record-setters and, today, Hall of Famers.