Note: This article includes schools in the writer’s area of coverage, which is as follows: from Fountain Hills west through Scottsdale, all of Phoenix (except for Ahwatukee), the southwest, northwest and northern sections of the metro area. Other locales include northern, northeast and northwest Arizona. Most of this information was obtained from e-mail questionnaires returned by the coaches.
What are we to make of the Division IV football race, particularly after losses by the top two contenders, Show Low and neighbor Lakeside Blue Ridge, last week?
Granted, those setbacks were to Division III teams (Show Low to Gilbert Williams Field and Blue Ridge to Prescott), but they still are worth noting.
Does that mean that Chandler Seton Catholic can repeat, or that the door is open for Snowflake or a team from the south? We shall enjoy watching as the season unfolds.
*Show Low still would appear to rate a slight edge at this point.
The Cougars might have the toughest schedule in team history, but coach Randy Ricedorff and his team are confident they can make a run if they can stay healthy. The team had strong showings over the summer at passing leagues and its preseason camp in California.
Show Low has eight returning starters on defense and seven on offense. Most of its key players are seniors.
They are running back/linebacker Bret VanWinkle, quarterback Colby Maxwell, running back/safety Brice Rova, wide receiver/cornerback Trevor Solomon, fullback/linebackere Dallin Crandell, guard/linebacker Austin Daniels and guard/linebacker Jace Wyatt.
Also keep an eye on versatile sophomore Quenten Clark, a wide receiver/safety.
*Blue Ridge, which won its opener against Cottonwood Mingus before falling to Prescott, is led by wide receiver/linebacker Nolan Cook and two-way lineman Walker Lee.
A look at some of the other teams in the area . . .
*Phoenix North Pointe Prep is returning to action after a two-year absence. Former Phoenix Brophy Prep assistant Vince D’Aliesio parted ways with the program recently after disagreements with school administrators, so Richard Lucero takes over as head coach.
North Pointe fell to Queen Creek Canyon State Academy in its opener, but is looking to show improvement with lineman Andrez Harris, tight end/defensive end Ian Corcoran, running back/linebacker Ray Brannon and wide receiver/cornerback Esteban Juarez.
*The top challenger from the north could be Kayenta Monument Valley, with Page and Winslow also figuring into the mix.
Monument Valley coach Bryan Begay said this year’s team is the most experienced he has had.
The team’s motto is “Have fun while we get it done.’’
The Mustangs fared well in their own passing league as well as those at San Diego State, Fort Lewis (Colo.), Pima Community College (Tucson) and the Arizona Football Coaches Association annual competition in Surprise.
Monument Valley features one of the division’s top quarterbacks in 6-foot-4, 185-pound senior Redmond Delmar, who is a three-year starter and had passed for 4,200 yards and 47 touchdowns entering the season.
If Begay chooses to run the ball, he has three very capable senior backs – Brandon Nez, Julian Begay and Gregory Williams. Senior Travis Gray is a key up front on both sides of the ball, and senior Keanu Mitchell is an inviting passing target for Delmar.
*Parker won its opener, 43-0 over Kingman’s new school, Lee Williams. The Broncs are looking to build on that success for coach Jason Lotts. Three-year, two-way lineman Magnus Deysie is one of the leaders. Other key players are senior fullback/middle linebacker Jose Miller, junior running back/linebacker C.J. Manuel and junior running back/linebacker Spencer Moore.
*River Valley coach Terry Staggs was encouraged by his team’s 34-0 opening win over Kingman. The team is experienced in its starting groups, but needs to develop depth.
Senior quarterback Derrik Advocate is a double threat as a passer and runner. He passed for 1,912 yards and 17 touchdowns last season and rushed for 614 yards and eight TDs.
Brandon Long also can come up big running the ball. He picked up 1,410 yards and 16 TDs a year ago. On defense, junior free safety poses a problem for opponents. He had five interceptions last season.
*A 29-6 victory over Camp Verde in the opener already matched Chino Valley’s win total from last season, so the Cougars could be on their way to bigger and better things.
Coach Chuck Apap lists his top players as senior linebacker Julian Gonzales, senior running back Brandon Lasky, senior wide receiver Terry Marciel, senior outside linebacker Sam Heckethorn and sophomore fullback Noah Knisely.
A good turnout in spring ball and increased productivity leading to bigger and stronger players should help Glendale High.
Coach Brian Bowman’s top players are senior guard/linebacker Jonathan Corrales, junior tight end/defensive back Luis Meja, senior two-way lineman Al Estevez, senior quarterback/defensive back Joseph Aldrete, senior two-way lineman Jose Perez, senior running back/defensive back Corey Russell and junior place-kicker Selemani Baruani.
*Snowflake’s top player is wide receiver/defensive back Rick Shumway. Winslow, which defeated rival Holbrook 47-0 in its opener, is led by running back/linebacker Akkeem Foster and two-way lineman Jace Hardy.