Just like that…Arizona high school football is almost back.
Well, sort of.
As we flip the calendar to April spring football is slowly beginning to ramp back up. Here are a few things to keep your eye on in the coming weeks from some teams around the state leading up to #FridayNight360AZ.
Remember the Titans
About 13 months ago Arcadia hired former Hamilton High and ASU star Kerry Taylor to take over a program coming off a winless 2017 season. His impact, both on social media and the field, was felt immediately. The Titans went 6-4 but stumbled down the stretch after winning their first five last fall.
Is this the year AHS returns to the post season for the first time since 2015?
It very well could be considering Taylor’s squad returns its top passer (Kadin Beler), top rusher (Paxton Earl) and top three receivers (Earl, Crew Edwards and Samaury Alexander).
Defensively, Jonathan Hunter’s 130 tackles will be missed but juniors-to-be Trey Brown and Nixon Nolan will certainly step into bigger roles.
There is a HUGE difference between Loving Football & Liking Football. It’s a lifestyle you can’t turn off an on. The life lessons that the game teaches you is priceless. But if you don’t Love football you miss those valuable lessons along the way. #TitanUp #ForTheCulture
— Kerry Taylor (@KerryTaylor15) April 2, 2019
Taylor frequently uses the hashtag #ForTheCulture.
Whatever he’s selling is certainly working.
Speaking of returning talent, nobody returns more in southern Arizona than Salpointe Catholic. I recently documented the high-profile guests who have made their way to the central Tucson school to get a glimpse at a few of the west coast’s top players.
— Scott Schrader (@Scott_Schrader) April 4, 2019
Quite simply, the Lancers are loaded on both sides of the ball. Running back Bijan Robinson could end his prep career as the most decorated in state history. Lathan Ransom is a two-way star and Salpointe has their usual size up-front. Throw in eight of SC’s nine top tackles returning and this looks on paper to be the most experienced, deep team in quite some time.
There is one position which is currently open: quarterback.
“Right now I have four guys competing,” head coach Dennis Bene told the ‘Zone Read.’ “I’m looking for the player that has the best combination of leadership, maturity, intelligence, arm talent and athleticism. Playing quarterback at the level we need this year will require all of those qualities.”
With Devin Green graduating, Jackson Bolin will have an opportunity after seeing spot duty in 2018 as a junior. Sophomore-to-be Treyson Bourguet transferred in last semester Marana High School and certainly has the skill-level and bloodlines to thrive in Salpointe’s system. He served as the backup to his record-setting older brother Trenton.
Two other signal-callers in the mix are Dylan Dries, whose older brother Colin signed with Montana after starring up front for the Lancers the last four years, and Parker Pelletier.
It will be an interesting battle, especially considering the obvious skill set of Bourguet will have to sit out the first five games after transferring.
Some Things To See At QC
There’s a new dog in the far southeast Valley.
Well, sort of.
Joe Germaine takes over (again) for long-time head coach Travis Schureman who remains on staff as Germaine’s offensive line coach. Schureman replaced Germaine back in 2013. Schureman stepped down a couple of months ago. Germaine coached the Bulldogs from 2010-2012 and two games into the 2013 season, compiling an impressive 34-5 record.
Gone are offensive mainstays Devin Larsen, Dylan Borja and Ryan Dobbs who combined for over 3600 yards and 34 touchdowns, despite Larsen’s season being cut short due to a severe shoulder injury.
However, there is talent returning in running backs Jace Bond and Dayson Coleman, as well as talented tight end Isaia Glass.
— County Line Preps (@CountyLinePreps) March 23, 2019
Germaine could turn the keys to the offense to Trey Reynolds who rushed for eight touchdowns and threw for one as well last year as a sophomore. The well-rounded athlete who also excels in baseball will have a shot but that position seems to be far from settled as Reynolds could return to his spot in the backfield.
One team to watch closely this spring is Desert Vista. The Thunder went 10-2 in 2018 before falling to Perry in the 6A Quarterfinals.
While DV will certainly miss defensive stars Brett Johnson and Clay Sokol, there are enough playmakers on the other side of the ball to make many coaches around Arizona blush.
Parker Navarro, Desert Vista QB. Might be the strongest in AZ. Will be a force to reckon with. Thunder Nation is thriving. pic.twitter.com/etdDpWzKph
— Dan Hinds (@DanHinds) April 1, 2019
Quarterback Parker Navarro performed well as a junior throwing 17 touchdowns with just five interceptions. He also ran for three scores. Lining up behind him will be brothers Tyson and Devon Grubbs who combined for over 1500 yards and 25 touchdowns. Older brother Tyson is coming off a foot injury last fall. Wide receiver Elijah Ervin returns after catching eight touchdowns in 2018.
“With eight returning starters on offense,” head coach Dan Hinds explained to the ‘Zone Read,’ “This could be one of the most talented groups we have seen in many years.”
Both Ervin and Colby Humphrey will be looked upon to step in defensively after posting solid numbers last season.