Best in the West: Aug. 26, 2022 Spotlight

Twitter: @DysartFootball

It’s another week of preparations and games as the football season nears full speed in Arizona. We take a look at one of the games happening on the west side this Friday night along with a pair of 5A teams who look to build on last year’s success.


Game of the Week: Fountain Hills @ Dysart

The Dysart Demons dramatically opened their season with a 14-0 fourth-quarter shutout after a long haul to Yuma to earn a 21-18 victory. This is the Demons’ third season in the 3A Conference and it seems like they’re finally settling in. The Demons went 5-4 in 2021 and came up just seven spots short of making the postseason tournament.

Head Coach, John Ganados, attributed a large part of Friday’s victory to the growth of junior quarterback, Kye Brown. While he wasn’t flawless in the passing game, completing six of his 16 passes for 59 yards, Brown added a new dimension to his game this season by becoming a threat on his feet and increasing his QB IQ. Not only did his 59 pass yards turn into a pair of touchdowns, Brown also blew by the defense with 90 rush yards on just nine rushes.

Defensively, Xavier Silvas, is another Demon who will be looked at in a leadership role in 2022. The junior was a menace, collecting seven tackles and three tackles for loss against Yuma. Another leader of this team is four-year varsity member, Julian Laborin, who will be a leader on and off the field as a defensive end and tackle. Sophomore MLB, Robert VonDenBosch, also stood out in the season opener with his 22-yard interception. 

Dysart hasn’t won back-to-back games to open a season since 2016 and has to go through Fountain Hills in their home opener to do it again. FHHS fell in their first game of the season on home turf to Chino Valley, 20-14. Dysart must take care of the ball to take down Fountain Hills. The Falcon defense caused three fumbles against Chino Valley and had one interception but couldn’t seal the deal. 

A win for Dysart could set them up for a successful season but they have a difficult schedule on the horizon. The Demons are fighting for their first state tournament appearance since 2016 when they were a member of the 4A Conference.


Scorpions’ Pursuit to Raise the Gold Ball

After their first two seasons as co-head coaches at Desert Edge, Mark and Marcus Carter have watched their teams go a combined 18-4 and take a trip to Open Division Playoffs in 2020. Now, the Scorpions have their sights set on finally making the championship game. An 8-2 regular season in 2021 earned DEHS the 5A Desert West Region title and the third seed in the tournament but their run was ended in the semifinal by Salpointe Catholic. In their pursuit to get better and stronger than last year, 90% of the team ran track last spring and are growing as a football family.

“We learned that every second, minute, play counts,” Co-Head Coach Mark Carter said. “We self-scout a lot and we saw that the differences in games are just a few plays. In knowing that, we are focusing on ourselves and blocking out the ‘noise.'”

A crew of seniors have been tasked with being the offensive leaders on and off the field this season in Goodyear. Last year’s receiving leader, Gavin Parks, totaled 828 reception yards and 11 touchdowns for DEHS and returns for his senior season. Another key part of the receiving core, Vinny Mansfield, will also be an offensive leader this year after catching nine TDs and 753 yards last year. Along with that receiving duo, Coach Mark also notes a multitalented Kaleb Carter as one of the primary leaders of this team, who is listed as a guard, tackle, and tight end.

On the defensive end, junior, Deshawn Warner, returns after leading the team with eight sacks in 2021. He’ll be joined by fellow junior, Aundre Gibson, who led the team in interceptions last year. Jaylen Dawson will only be a junior as well after racking up 10 TFL and 98 total tackles a season ago and senior, Marvelous Hannon, is also tasked to be a leader on defense. All four of these defensive stars found the endzone on defense last year for the Scorpions.

“We’re excited to see how all the hard work and dedication we showed all spring and summer is going to turn out. As coaches, all of this sharpening, monitoring, and practicing, is the fun part. This next portion is for the boys. Of course, trying to be the last team standing is exciting as well. We’ve been close. We want to finish.”

There are a handful of junior transfers that will join the Scorpions such as Kezion Dia-Johnson, OL Kaleb Carter, TE Victor Chavez, OL Duncan Igbokwe, and LB Drey’lan Dobbin. Desert Edge will begin the season at home against Cactus Shadows on Sept. 2 in search of their 13th straight postseason qualification.


Vipers Eye Back-to-Back Postseasons

For the first time since 2017, the Verrado Vipers closed out the season with a winning record. A 7-3 regular season earned the Vipers the eighth seed in the 2021 5A Conference State Tournament but fell short to #9 Cienega, 47-36. Head Coach, Dustin Johnson, notes that this is a group with great cohesion and loves each other as they fight to make their way back to the state tournament.

VHS returns nine starters on a defense that allowed 19 points per game last year and tallied 24.5 sacks alongside 18 interceptions. The Vipers return last year’s tackle leader, LB Nathan Bilski, and interception leader, DB Juan Virgen, to anchor the defense. Ryan Willey returns after a stellar sophomore season featuring 13 sacks and Jhayden Frye will be another junior to help lead this defense.

Senior standout, Collin Tibbs, is expected to be a major leader for VHS on both sides of the ball as a defensive back and wide receiver. In Tibbs’ junior season, the two-way star accumulated nearly 600 receiving yards while also racking up 34 total tackles and three interceptions. Senior quarterback, Erick Santiago will once again be at the helm of the offense for Verrado following a 2,388 passing yard performance last year to capture 26 touchdowns. This will be Santiago’s third season as a primary QB for the Vipers and has a chance to help lead Verrado to back-to-back postseason appearances.

The Vipers open the season on Sept. 2 at home against ALA – Queen Creek, who is making their 5A Conference debut. Somehow, someway, Verrado drew a schedule that will feature no back-to-back road games and no back-to-back home games in 2022.


While half of the state’s conferences enter week two of the football season, we are just one Friday away from all-out high school football back in Arizona! Keep watch at Sports360AZ for all of our high school football content including Bleacher Talk, Zone Read, AZ Audibles, Recruiting Roundup, and more.

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