Photo: Heritage Academy coach Jose Portilla with standout Cooper Ross after the Heroes beat Surprise Highland Prep 46-6 for the CAA D2 state championship on Dec. 5 (Heritage Academy photo)

We love seeing our faculty highlighted in the community! Read below for an excerpt about Coach Portilla from the local news. (fun fact: Portilla is also a professional artist and art teacher at Heritage Academy Mesa Campus).

“The success of former Arizona offensive tackle Jose Portilla continues 23 years after he was a standout with the Wildcats.

The first Mexican-born player to play in the Super Bowl is a repeat champion as head coach at Heritage Academy in Mesa.

Portilla, with the Wildcats in 1996 and 1997 after transferring from Ricks College in Idaho, has coached at Heritage Academy, a charter school within the Canyon Athletic Association, since 2017.

He coached the Heroes, who compete in 8-player football, to the D2 state championship game in 2018 and a state title in 2019 and this season. The CAA is the charter-school version of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

“All the seniors stepped up this year with so many distractions that came with the pandemic,” Portilla told “They took it upon themselves to lead the young group to the state title.”

Portilla is 29-6 in his four years as head coach, including a 17-0 stretch over the last two seasons.”

Portilla was a two-year starter for the Wildcats, playing for coach Dick Tomey, earning Pac-10 All-Academic first-team honors his senior season.

He signed with the Atlanta Falcons in 1998 as an undrafted free agent and played in all 16 regular-season games and three postseason games, including the NFC Championship and Super Bowl XXXIII.

After two seasons with the Falcons, he played for Los Angeles in the XFL in 2001.

Portilla developed into a professional artist after earning a degree in Visual Communications at Arizona.”…..


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