Blogs / Features
AZPreps365 Cornerby AIA365.com Staff
Gilbert at Desert RidgeAug 23, 2012
By Al Bravo
The season opener for Gilbert and Mesa Desert Ridge might be more about what is missing. The Jaguars reached the Division I state semifinals a year ago with a powerful offense led by dual threats Jordan Becerra and Parker Rasmussen and workhorse running back Joey Counts. But all of them have graduated so Desert Ridge will be breaking in new athletes at the skill positions other than big wide receiver Nick Colson.
Still, expectations are high for the Jaguars, who are a top 10 pick in the preseason and several seasons of success now under their belt. Quarterback play and the defense’s ability to stop the run will tell what kind of year Desert Ridge has.
In Gilbert, the Jaguars face a team asking what might have been. The Tigers missed the playoffs at 5-5 a year ago but figured to have one of the best quarterback-wide receiver tandems around in Mitch Trail and Connor Helvig. Trail completed 60 percent of his passes for 16 touchdowns in 2011 – and four of those scores were to Helvig. However, Trail moved to Kentucky since last season and the quarterback job was up for grabs in the preseason.
In addition to the questions on the offense, much of the starting defense has graduated for first-year coach Leland Rodgers. Rodgers, formerly the defensive coordinator at Gilbert Mesquite, took over for Dan Dunn.