Past, Present, Future: Caldwell Is Saguaro Football

Kyle Caldwell sits on the Saguaro bench with his fellow assistants as the fast-setting sun illuminates Camelback Mountain just a few miles west of the stadium.

It’s a landmark destination Caldwell is quite familiar with.

Sure, things like the updated scoreboard, artificial track and newer turf field weren’t around when Caldwell starred for the Sabercats back in the early 2000’s but it’s still very much like home for one of the top players in program history.

He’s now entering his tenth season as defensive line coach, eighth as SHS’s strength and conditioning coach and hoping to help lead his alma mater to their sixth-straight state championship this fall.

“I always thought when I was going through college,” the former Arizona State star defensive lineman said to Sports360AZ.com. “‘How can I get connected to Saguaro? How can I give back to Saguaro?’ From day one [of coaching] I was in it to make sure that what this program gave to me I was trying to give to the boys now.”

Caldwell has more than delivered on his end of the promise, not only improving and sculping the play of one of Arizona’s best defensive fronts but more importantly, serving as a positive role model away football.

“He’s just passionate about what Saguaro football represents,” head coach Jason Mohns explained to Sports360AZ.com. “Coming back here and saying, ‘Hey, when this is all said and done, this is bigger than any scholarship offer you can get.’ It’s about the brotherhood and it’s about the tradition and legacy.”

On the field, the game has certainly evolved since Caldwell, who had over 50 college offers before deciding to continue his families’ legacy of playing for the Sun Devils, dominated under the Valley’s Friday night lights.

“It’s changed a ton,” he said laughing. “It was a sophisticated game plan that we had on defense. [Now] a lot of it has to do with the offenses you face. A lot of these teams have spread offenses. These kids now are playing football at a younger age and a higher level…it’s stepped up a bunch.”

Although there’s a substantial age gap, the players Caldwell teaches and coaches are well aware of SagU’s lineage of stars, including their well-liked coach.

“Saguaro produces a lot of great athletes,” senior defensive end/outside linebacker and Division I prospect Seth Robinson said to Sports360AZ.com. “Coach Caldwell happened to be one of them, an All-American back in the olden days (laughing). It’s great to have him as a coach because he’s learned a lot and he’s teaching us what he learned. It’s really helping us on the field.”

Caldwell, a successful real estate agent, also sets the right example for his players. He coaches them hard but treats each with respect.

It’s something that goes a long ways in helping set the right example both on and off the field.

“He’s definitely a family guy and he cares about all of us,” senior defensive tackle/defensive end Jayden Swink explained to Sports360AZ.com. “He’s one of the people I look up to in my life.” 

This week Caldwell is ready to see some familiar colors on the opposing sideline when rival Chaparral makes the five-mile drive south Friday evening.

“My record against them was 2-1 as a varsity player,” he half-boasted with a wry grin. “It was an awesome experience here playing those guys. It’s a neighborhood rivalry. Those teams don’t like each other.”

Whether a player or coach, those competitive juices never stop.

Just ask Kyle Caldwell.         

A Valley native, Eric has had a passion for the Arizona sports scene since an early age. He has covered some of the biggest events including Super Bowls, national championships and the NBA and MLB playoffs in his near 20 years in local media.