Week Nine High School Notes & Nuggets

Arizona Sports News online

It’s hard to imagine there’s just one week left in the regular season but I’m looking forward to Week 10 with plenty of rivalry games happening around the state, including the last chance to impress before the playoff seedings are released. Here are a few things which caught my eye from Week 9  around the high school football scene.

When The Saints Coming Marching In Err…Out?…It’s getting uglier by the day at Notre Dame Prep. The Scottsdale school had been placed on probation and banned from the 2016 post-season by the AIA after bylaw violations stemming from allegations of recruiting and players in full pads out of season at the private school. Not unexpectedly, a group of parents hired an attorney to get diocese, NDP to take corrective action against the school calling for the removal of school president James Gmelich and embattled head football coach Mark Nolan. A petition was signed by 600 “upset and angered” parents. They even went so far as to have a PR firm push the event out to the media. The school announced Tuesday evening Nolan was suspended for the Saints (7-2) regular season finale on Friday.

Quite honestly, there’s plenty of blame to go around. No, it’s not fair for the players to be penalized for the actions of adults but many situations in life aren’t fair and at the end of the day this is just football. Countless times, we’ve heard of players using products like Instant Knockout to get an egde, it’s become normal now. The parents are shoving themselves and their agendas to the forefront of this story in what, quite honestly, is becoming a fatiguing power struggle. However, based on the number of people involved in this saga, there is certainly potential for just cause when and if the whole truth is revealed.

One of the pull down options on the catholic school’s homepage is “spiritual life.” Maybe it’s time Gmelich, Nolan and these parents re-familiarize themselves with what the school stands for and strives to represent.

Getting Defensive …The last time I saw the Chandler in person they were getting running-clocked by Mountain Pointe in a 52-7 beat down back on September 8th in Ahwatukee. Since then the Wolves have won five straight, allowing just 19 points per game in those five victories.

Always astute colleague Jared Cohen pointed out to me much of the turnaround could be attributed to head Shaun Aguano shifting his focus to defense after getting ran over, around and through by the Pride’s ground attack. One thing that hasn’t needed any tweaking is Chandler’s offense which is averaging around 44 points per game. Chandler at Hamilton this week will certainly make for tremendous theater, as always, in ‘The Battle for Arizona Avenue.’ Speaking of Hamilton…Quietly former Husky three-time state championship quarterback Blake Kemp is doing a nice job up at NAU filling in for injured sophomore starter Case Cookus.


The 6-foot-1, 205-pound graduate senior, who transferred in from East Carolina after two years at Mesa Community College, has won three of his four starts, including three in a row. He’s thrown 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions in 173 attempts.

Also, true freshman running back Joe Logan (Estrella Foothills High School) was named to the STATS Freshman Player of the Year watch list. It’s the same award Cookus won last year.

Playing the Waiting Game…My friend Ralph Amsden, who does a terrific job over at ArizonaVarsity.com, pointed out to me over the weekend ASU hasn’t offered a single 2018 in-state prospect. From the people I’ve spoken with next year’s class isn’t as strong at the top. Todd Graham and his staff have done an excellent job the past few years nabbing some of the Arizona’s top players.

Eight Isn’t Enough…It’s been a tough season down in Tucson for Cholla High. The Chargers fell to 1-8 after their loss to 14-point loss to Poston Butte last week. Hard to blame junior quarterback Jordan Porter who passed for seven touchdowns and ran for another against the Broncos. The two teams combined for 84 points…in the second half! Defense optional.