Blogs / Features
Don KetchumStaff Writer, AIA365.com firstname.lastname@example.org
These teams are ready for 2012 season to beginAug 22, 2012
The last few minutes are ticking away before the start of the first full night of football on Friday (Aug. 24), and here is a brief overview of the programs (listed alphabetically) that responded to an AIA365.com e-mail requesting information on the 2012 season.
These profiles are from the area of coverage that includes Scottsdale, Phoenix (exception of Ahwatukee), the southwest and northwest Valley and northwest, northeast and northern Arizona.
Thanks to those who participated, and good luck to all teams this fall!
Bagdad – Dalton Mills has arrived to lead the program that plays the Division VI eight-man game, and reports that things have stabilized with optimism for a strong season.
One of the main men to watch for the Sultans is senior quarterback Kendall Jeans, who has recovered from elbow surgery. He is a dual threat who Mills says “brings intelligence, poise and character to the position.’’
Other top players are senior slot receiver-kicker Damian Jauregui, junior receiver-defensive back James Loveall, junior wide receiver-defensive end Kody Low, sophomore lineman-fullback-linebacker Justin Pacheco and sophomore running back Casey Jeans.
Jauregui is consistent on his kicks and reportedly has a range nearing 50 yards. Loveall had 13 interceptions a year ago, including five in one game. Low is a force on both sides of the ball. Pacheco is the team’s strongest player. And Casey Jeans will get the bulk of the carries.
Buckeye – Long-time coach Bobby Barnes has a solid group of returnees from last year’s Division IV quarterfinal team.
The Hawks feature one of the division’s top players in linebacker-tight end DeAndre Miller (6-feet-3, 220 pounds), who has given his college commitment to the University of Arizona but who continues to be pursued by at least 10 other schools.
Brandon Grabowski will start at strong safety and fullback and is the team’s fastest player. Jabril Taylor is a top-notch running back and safety.
Barnes says that Hugo Rivera, Chris Gabaldon, Robert Lutman and Juan Uribe give Buckeye the best offensive line since he has been at the school.
One of the pleasant surprises of preseason camp has been Valente Lopez, who has used his athleticism to become a very good receiver and cornerback. Ryan Colville will attempt to uphold the program’s long tradition of solid play and leadership at the quarterback spot.
Buckeye finished 9-3 last season, and two of the losses came to eventual champions Lakeside Blue Ridge (Division IV) and Yuma Catholic (Division V).
Scottsdale Chaparral – Dave Huffine has his work cut out for him as the Firebirds’ new head coach after former field boss Charlie Ragle joined Rich Rodriguez’s staff at the University of Arizona. Chaparral is the three-time defending state champion in Division II.
Huffine was the team’s offensive coordinator, but he passes that torch to Morgan Ruby. After a year as head coach at Phoenix North Canyon, Conrad Hamilton has returned to assume his old job as defensive coordinator.
Seniors Beau Pitt, Eric Conklin and Conner Svetly will be the leaders of the defensive line. Seniors Shane Aldridge and Jake Roh anchor the linebacking corps. Senior safeties Alex Arnold and Tim Murphy are among the top men in the secondary.
Daniel Emadi, Dakota Hagood and Clay Cashman will be the offense’s main protectors up front. The team is deep at wide receiver, led by Roh and Jordin Hamilton. Josh Aganon will get a large amount of carries at running back. The battle to replace Connor Brewer featured Brad Schenker, Brad Boskie and Sean Paul Brophy.
Chino Valley – Chuck Apap moves over from Prescott Valley Bradshaw Mountain to coach the Cougars.
He lists the following players as the core of his team:
Fullback-defensive back Conner Richberger, quarterback-defensive back Ben Goermar, running back Brandon Lasky, wide receiver Tori Marciel, center-linebacker Brandon Redfern, offensive tackle Tanner Buntin and offensive guard-defensive lineman Kishan Batcheldor.
Flagstaff Coconino – The Panthers look to have a good mix of seniors and underclassmen under coach George Moate.
The top offensive players are sophomore quarterback Damian Alarcon, senior running back Christian Daulton, junior wide receiver Travis Walters and senior tackle Jarred Krall.
On the defensive side, the leaders are linemen Calvin Hammock and Christian Delko, linebacker Avery Baker and back Wayne Cook.
Scottsdale Desert Mountain – Keep an eye on coach Tony Tabor and the Wolves. They appear to be ready for a breakthrough season.
“The running theme is to show people we belong with the better teams in the Valley and that we are for real,’’ Tabor said. “We have to prove that we can compete and not only compete but beat the better teams in the state. We had a great offseason and summer passing league session, but we have to translate that to the fall. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.’’
Start with the offense, where four key men return up front. They are Rick John (6-4, 290), Thomas Chiarello (6-1, 290), Ryan Scheetz (6-5, 275) and Coleman Martin (6-2, 295).
The team features one of the top quarterback-receiver combinations in the state – Kyle Allen and Mark Andrews. Tabor has three running backs who will share the load. Joe Duran, a three-year starter at middle linebacker, leads the defense.
“Another part of our game that needs work is realizing to be in it at the end, that it is a long season and we have to maintain a level of maturity that we did not possess last season,’’ Tabor said.
Goodyear Estrella Foothills – The team has had its share of struggles, but coach Lamar Early believes his players have formed a more cohesive group this season.
“The team is a family and has been working hard all offseason together. They get along with one another,’’ Early said.
His top players are senior quarterback Gerrit Groenewold, senior running back-defensive back Najee Jacobs, senior wide receiver-defensive back Steve Ludlow, sophomore running back-defensive back Branden Leon and senior two-way linemen Frank Garcia and McKenna Dunivant.
Glendale Ironwood – Coach Ian Curtis and the Eagles could be a factor in the Division II race.
Start with senior Elijah Cox, who at 6-5 and 300 pounds is one of the biggest and best offensive linemen in the state. Cox also plays defense, but offense is where he excels.
“He is a tenacious blocker,’’ Curtis said
Other key seniors are running back Michael Alexander, all-purpose player Abram Chairez, linebacker Camden Shirey and guards Bill and Blake Duckworth.
“We expect to continue to improve,’’ said Curtis, whose team went 7-4 a year ago in his second season. “Our unified commitment to off-season training has yielded the biggest, strongest set of players I have ever had the pleasure to coach.’’
Kayenta Monument Valley – Coach Bryan Begay and the Mustangs have some quality starting players but not a lot of depth as they embark on another Division IV season.
Junior quarterback Redmond Delmar leads the offense, hoping to at least match his 2011 numbers of 1,700 yards passing and 18 touchdowns.
He will be complemented by running back-linebacker Tito Bailey, wide receiver-defensive back Tasi Malala, wide receiver-defensive back-return specialist Kervin Tom and lineman Mikael Yazzie.
Peoria – Will Babb, who quarterbacked the Panthers during some of their glory days nearly 20 years ago, is back with the program, this time as head coach.
The program always has had versatile athletes on both sides of the ball, and this year should be no different.
The top players on offense are junior quarterback Dillon Gragnano, running back-kick returner Ira Rojas, running back Eli Bealey, wide receiver-kick returner Darius Aguirre, tight end George Spoonmore and center Brian Smithhart.
Leading the way on defense are linebacker John Foltz, safety Tyler Porter, back Evan Ford, and safeties Joseph Mitchell and Toby Gamble.
Show Low – The Division IV Cougars, last year’s state runners-up, again figure to make a challenge for the title trophy under coach Randy Ricedorff.
“We expect to be strong in all areas of the game,’’ Ricedorff said.
He thinks the defense might be the fastest one he’s had during his time on the Show Low sideline.
The Cougars might have one of the top linebacking groups regardless of division with Cody Tenney, Justin Jackson and Austin Daniels. Dallin Crandell and Colten Merrill anchor the defensive line.
Jackson, Daniels and Jace Wyatt are keys for the offensive line. Senior Colten Farr and junior Colby Maxwell have been dueling for the quarterback spot.
Tolleson – Jason Wilke takes over as coach of the Wolverines, and lists his top players as junior quarterback-free safety Billy Wilson, senior offensive lineman-linebacker Grant West and senior wide receiver-defensive back Johnny Hodge as his top players.
Tonopah Valley – Coach Nick Gehrts is optimistic about his team’s chances to make its mark in Division V.
“We are off to a great start led by our senior class,’’ Gehrts said. “We have been working hard and had a great summer averaging about 25 guys a day in the weight room. Our biggest challenge is playing the bigger schools on our schedule with depth.’’
The top players are seniors – quarterback Jaden Masch, linebacker-tight end Jesus Pantoja and two-way linemen Chris Cullen and Daniel Heinze.
Avondale Westview – Jeff Bowen has posted a 71-37 record in nine seasons as the Knights’ coach, and he likely will reach the 80s in 2012 with another strong roster.
It all starts with the team’s traditionally efficient running game. The latest top back to come through is Seivion Morris, who has rushed for 2,520 yards and 31 touchdowns combined as a sophomore and junior.
Ardis Palmer should continue to evolve into one of the top defensive ends.
Surprise Willow Canyon – The Wildcats could emerge as a challenger in Division II, Section I with a roster that includes several three-year starters.
Coach Mike Hudnutt lists them as outside linebacker Austin Henige, defensive back Gaetano Florio, running back Antony Thompson, defensive lineman Adonis Hernandez and defensive lineman Kyler Smith, who also figures to be one of the state’s top punters.
Tristan Madden, who started five games as a sophomore in 2011, should continue to develop into a reliable quarterback.