At first glance, the Gilbert Tigers football team may not jump off the page at you.
With a roster size of 35 players, their program size is just a fraction of some of their counterparts down the road. MaxPreps lists Chandler’s roster at 126 and Hamilton had 116 players in 2016.
Gilbert head football coach Derek Zellner has been building the program since 2015. When digging deeper, the Tigers are set up to build toward sustained success.
The first thing you’ll see is the quarterback Jack Plummer. The Purdue commit has been tabbed as one of the top quarterbacks in the state the past few years. Standing at 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, Plummer possess the size and smarts – he holds a 4.6 GPA – to build off of an 18-touchdown junior season.
“(Jack Plummer) knows the offense inside and out. He knows it better than I do,” Zellner said. “We have a tremendous relationship and trust with things. The great thing is we can discuss things. We give him some freedoms on the field to make some protection adjustments maybe make some checks for some plays. (He has) great accuracy, great arm strong, just tremendous leadership.”
— Jack Plummer (@Jackplummer13) June 8, 2017
Perhaps the thing that jumps out the most when watching Plummer at practice isn’t the rocket arm or the precision but the way he interacts with teammates. He is in constant communication with his receivers and when a route is run incorrectly or the effort isn’t there, he isn’t afraid to get on them.
“It’s more of tough love,” Plummer said. “I’m trying to get on them now so when we’re getting into games, we are doing everything right so we can go out and get a win.”
The team’s leader in receiving touchdowns, Dawson Tanner, also returns to the offense, and there are multiple returners on the offensive line.
“When we came in here (two years ago), we lost 25 seniors to graduation,” Zellner said. “Last year, we were greener than a shamrock with three sophomores on the offensive line, inexperienced right and left tackle. This year, we should be much more experienced on the field and much stronger from our weight room work.”
“We’re much more senior laden this year and that and taken our lumps last year of going 1-9 is only going to make us better this year.”
Defensively, the team’s leader tackler Corvan Otanez comes in to quarterback the defense, who 134 tackles, second in 6A and the only non-senior to be in the top 16 in that category, and two interceptions.
The Gilbert Tigers open their season against Mesquite on August 25th.