What started as simply a distant date on the calendar is about become reality for the Eastmark High School football program as they count down the days to their first ever varsity game October 2nd against Pusch Ridge High School in Tucson.
The southeast Valley school, which sits just off the Loop 202, started its second year recently and will play at the varsity level with freshmen and sophomores only this fall.
“Certainly, it’s a huge game against Pusch Ridge,” head coach Scooter Molander said to Sports360AZ.com. “They have a very good program. Being on the road down there is going to be a challenge, no question about it.”
Another challenge the Firebirds have faced is preparing for their inaugural varsity season in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty of games even being played this season.
Through it all, the focus on the big picture hasn’t changed.
“Really, it’s just us doing our jobs, there’s nothing else to it,” sophomore wide receiver/cornerback Alex Campos explained to Sports360AZ.com. “Just working hard and making sure we do all our assignments. Do what we’re supposed to do and worry about ourselves and our team.”
.@Eastmark_FB varsity ? Year 1️⃣: #Firebirds will head to Tucson to take on @PRCAFootball 10/2. #Firebirds HC Scooter Molander & veteran staff will be ready. @eastmarkhs frosh/soph team went 6-2 in 2019. @Sports360AZ @CountyLinePreps @gridironarizona pic.twitter.com/aeHm1uY7nI
— Eric Sorenson (@EricSports360AZ) September 9, 2020
Molander, who led Brophy Prep to 12 playoff appearances in his 13 seasons as head coach, has embraced the challenge of building a program from the ground up.
“The expectations haven’t changed,” he said. “The standards of what we want hasn’t changed. Certainly, I’ve changed as a coach in terms of how to approach kids. That has had to have changed over the years. Making sure they understand the “why.” That’s a big, big point. They need to understand why and hopefully motivate to inspire.”
— Eastmark HS Firebirds Football (@Eastmark_FB) June 3, 2020
Eastmark, which is currently a seven through 10th-grade school, will compete in the 3A Central Region. They are surrounded by neighboring football powers Queen Creek, Williams Field and Desert Ridge.