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Kansas State Prepared for Cactus Bowl Win in Salt River

Photo credit, Kansas State Sports

The NCAA’s Cactus Bowl brought thousands of football fans to the Valley on December 26.

Chase Field in downtown Phoenix welcomed the Kansas State Wildcats and the UCLA Bruins. However, before the Wildcats beat the Bruins 35-17, Kansas State prepared for its match-up in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

The Wildcats practiced at the Salt River High School football field from December 21 to 24. The football field and facilities received positive feedback from the Kansas State football program and the Fiesta Bowl Foundation (FBF).

“It was an honor to host the Fiesta Bowl Foundation and Kansas State football on our field,” said SRHS Athletic Director Brandon Tauscher. “It was special to see how all the groups came together. As athletic director, I saw the best come out in people who had a hand in the effort, and that will remain with me as an example of us putting our best foot forward. It was a really well-handled and well-organized event.”

The relationship started with a phone call from Bob Whitehouse, FBF vice president of operations, inquiring about the rental of the SRHS facilities for the Cactus Bowl practices. The Wildcats were staying close to the high school, and the school where they previously practiced was undergoing renovations. After a couple minor upgrades to the field, SRHS welcomed the Wildcats for four days.

FBF representatives were impressed with the facilities, according to Salt River Schools leaders.

“Individuals from Kansas State football and the Fiesta Bowl both had positive things to say about the school and were impressed and somewhat surprised by the facilities for a school our size,” Tauscher said. “[Because of] the nice weather, we found some people from Kansas State sunbathing! They spoke about enjoying the seclusion of the venue, which of course is surrounded by our beautiful mountains, our desert landscape, the Community, etc. I was also able to speak to individuals regarding the history of the school and the Community.”

Hosting the Wildcats was a joint effort of many SRPMIC departments, such as Public Works, the Grounds Department, Salt River Schools administration, school security and more. Each played a role in welcoming and providing a clean and inviting environment for the guests.

Salt River Schools looks forward to the partnerships and relationships that have started to form and the potential for future collaboration.

“Kansas State football legend Coach Bill Snyder will forever be known as one of the best—if not the best—‘turnaround’ coaches in NCAA history. So it seemed uniquely special that it was Coach Snyder and his team on our fields in Salt River during a time when everyone in education is working to ensure a successful turnaround in terms of our schools and students,” said Tauscher.

“On the night of Christmas Eve, at the conclusion of his practice, Coach Snyder came up and shook my hand to thank us for hosting his team,” Tauscher said. “As I wished him luck in his upcoming bowl game, I was reminded of what I learned from hosting his team: I saw that having a strong program takes a high level of coordinated organization, speed of execution and trusting those around you to be excellent in their work. As educators, we’re always thinking in terms of a growth mindset in order to improve and build upon success. The leadership in that handshake will not soon be forgotten, nor will the time Kansas State practiced here at Salt River High School.”

Kansas State posted practice photos on social media and on their website. To see more photos, visit