Improved passing game helps Ariz. Lutheran keep foes honest
Originally published: Nov 21, 2013 - 12:00 am
The football team from Phoenix Arizona Lutheran Academy has built a reputation that says it will run the ball, run the ball and run it some more.
The Coyotes have continued to operate on the ground this season, but they also have opened up a whole new world.
Air it out, baby.
Passing the ball has made the Coyotes even more successful, and has helped them reach Saturday’s (Nov. 23) Division V semifinals as the top seed. ALA (11-1) will face fourth-seeded Round Valley (11-1) at Phoenix Paradise Valley High. Kickoff is 6 p.m.
The offensive line has paved the way for three primary elements – sophomore quarterback Cameron Haag, sophomore receiver Gabe Galvan and junior tight end Brady Cook.
The team has passed for 2,923 yards, with 3,382 more yards coming on the ground.
Haag (pronounced Hay-g) has completed 160 of 308 passes for 2,899 yards and 41 touchdowns, with 10 interceptions.
Galvan has caught 28 passes for 708 yards and 11 TDs, and Cook tops the charts with 62 catches for 1,328 yards and 21 TDs.
“We have been waiting for a couple of years to really get going with the passing game, and now we have the personnel to do it,’’ said ALA coach Scott Indahl.
The 5-foot-10 ½, 155-pound Haag is pleased with the way the passing offense is going and how things are going individually. Galvan and Cook have a lot to do with it.
“Gabe is super fast, and Brady can catch almost anything you throw at him,’’ Haag said.
The Coyotes had a big game against Glendale Joy Christian, the 2012 champion in eight-man Division VI that moved up to Division V this season.
“That’s when we knew we were going to be pretty good,’’ Haag said. “When we pass the ball and run the ball well, there isn’t much of anything teams can do to stop us.’’
The Coyotes are a confident bunch, but they appear to have things in proper perspective.
“The game against Yuma Catholic (the team’s only loss) was like a wake-up call for us, let us know that we can’t just walk on the field and expect to win. We have to play hard and earn it,’’ Haag said.
Does it seem a little strange that a sophomore gets in the huddle and tells some of the older guys what to do?
“I just give them some advice once in awhile. I don’t think they mind it,’’ he said.
Indahl said Haag “has a good, accurate arm. He has been very consistent. He has developed as a leader, and he has a lot more potential.’’
Galvan appears to have only scratched the surface in regard to his potential. He has put up good numbers despite missing a couple of games with an injury.
He had played little or no organized football when he came to ALA as a freshman, spending most of that season learning the game, how to run routes, etc. This season, he has begun to flourish.
“The key is communication,’’ Galvan said. “Our freshman year, Cameron and I were trying to figure out a lot. We worked a lot over the summer, and now it’s much better. Cameron knows what he is doing. I listen to him.’’
The 6-1, 165-pound Galvan likes to use his speed and says he is “deceptive.’’
“We have the capability of throwing deep with any of our receivers,’’ Indahl said.
At 6-5 and 190 pounds, Cook is a big target.
“Being able to pass the ball has opened a lot of doors for us,’’ said Cook, who also plays on ALA’s basketball team.
Cook said he and Galvan sometimes are interchangeable, lining up wide or at tight end.
“I think we run good routes,’’ Cook said.
He said the receivers have worked hard to shed defenders and get open.
Cook also has worked more with Haag and said, “It helps for him to know where you are going to be and for me to know where he is going to put the ball. And even if the throw might be a little off, I have the confidence that I can go up and get it.’’
He is looking forward to the Round Valley game, and perhaps a trip to the Division V title game on Nov. 29.
“It would mean a lot for us to get to that last game. We have come pretty far from where we started to where we are now. It will be fun,’’ he said.
And it should be even more enjoyable for Indahl next year, when all three players return.
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