But Rowe is counting on a handful of players stepping up their game this season and giving the Panthers a boost: Paul Carreon, a senior, and Devante Stokes, a sophomore, who will compete at quarterback… and a trio of senior running backs that includes Tymane Hamilton, Tyrone Colter, and Jermaine Marks. Hamilton and Colter will do double-duty as defensive backs, and Marks also plays linebacker.
Cesar Chavez HS
Cesar Chavez head coach Jim Rattay says he is “expecting big things” this year from a team that went 3-7 in the 5A-I Metro Region I last year.
Rattay will have 13 returning starters as the nucleus for this year’s turnaround, and all are upper classmen. The group includes 11 seniors: quarterback Brandon Cluff, R/LB Demitrius Burnett, R/S Harold Gossett III, RB/S Terry Smith, TE/DE Tony Lee, G/DL Kirk Washington, G/DL Steve Benevidez, C/LC Kyle Lucas, OL/DL Eric Norwood, RB/LB Aaron Pigg, and RB/C Essenece Hayne. The junior duo is FB/LB Jordan Hlebak and RB/S Adam Dixon.
There are also come up-and-coming bright spots on the Pagasus horizon, a group of players that the coaches feel worth watching… seniors R/C Kalen Fisher, R/C Michael McCrary, and R/DB Lyle Blummears… juniors RB/DB James Edwards, R/LB D’Mikel Bundy, RB/LB Junior Walden, OL/LB Ewuare Webb, and OL/DL Shawn Encinas… and freshman back, Devonte Neal.
Estrella Foothills HS
In 3A compeition, Estrella Foothills HS is coming off a 5-5 season last year, playing in the West Region, but have high aspirations for the 2008 season – and make no secret of their goals.
“We’re optimistic,” admits Wolves head coach, Rich Hoyt. “We hope to make the playoffs for the first time in school history.”
The Wolves enjoy a little depth this year at quarterback, which accounts for a good part of the optimism. Wes Budge and Michael Macko, both juniors, make the offense go. Macko is a two-year starter and Budge brings additional speed to the position, enough to be able to also play free safety.
Sean Duncan and Avery Boykin will give the quarterbacks a couple of good targets at wide receiver. Duncan, a senior, is a 6’4″ target who also plays basketball for the Wolves. Boykin transferred in this year.
Rounding out the group that should have the most impact this year are a trio of seniors: TB Crockett Colbert, DB Brett Hickman, and OG/LB James Takacs… juniors TE/LB Troy Coleman, OL Ryan Rath… and sohomore Michael Bentley, at 6’2″ and 250 lbs. the strongest player on the squad.
Fountain Hill HS
Optimism might also be the key word for the Falcons, which also play 3A, but in the South Region. Head coach, Jim Fairfield, says he has “a great group of young men coming back with experience.”
Those returning players that Fairfield expects to help the Falcons move on up from last year’s 5-6 finish include upperclassmen that help fill out the line and key skill positions. The offensive line enjoys stability as it returns three key players in seniors Nick Luca, Scott Moore, and Steven Armour. And seniors Mike Craig (FB) and Robert Rossfeld (RB) return to fill out the backfield.
Other key seniors in the group include: MLB Zach Rollings, FS/WR Andrew Leger, C/DT Conor Ruppert, WR/DB Chase Peterson, and OLB/RB Ethan Hodge… plus juniors OLB Coner Brinton, WR/DB Jordan Henslin, and DT Alex Forehand.