Apollo, which finished in 4th place in the 4A-I Western Sky Region last year, will also depend heavily on a handfull of upperclassmen: seniors Jason Burnett (LB), Vann Hunt (RB/DB), Marcus Ringo (WR), Josh Melroy (OL), and D.J. Adrian, who started last year at tight end and linebacker, but with step into the quarterback slot this year, along with his linebacking duties. On the defense, juniors Braden Sparks (DB) and Nick Christ (DL).
Coach Threadgill says these will be the players to watch this year “because they played big roles for us last year and we expect the same, if not better, this season.”
Other Hawks to keep an eye on this season: Malcolm Trevino, a junior H-back and linebacker who had a great off-season; Aaron Burnett, a sophomore who is a tough, physical player and will play the rover position; Mark Griffen, a senior on the defensive line who is very explosive off the ball; Ernesto Siordia, a senior on the O line who is also a wrestler and had a great off-season; and Archi Mendivil, a junior running back and wide receiver who has the speed to be a scoring threat on any play.
Meanwhile, in the 4A-I West Valley Region, Copper Canyon is looking to improve on a 5th place finish in 2007.
“We hope to improve from last year, as long as we can avoid injuries” says head coach, Ron Frank, who points out the Aztecs suffered injuries to key 2-way starters.
Coach Frank is counting on a cadre of returning players: (seniors) Bo Wheeler, last year’s starting center who was hurt early in the season, and Frank says he’s “expecting big things” from Wheeler this year; defensive tackle Willie Jackson; kicker Bryce Bigelow; and Vincent Payan, who played both ways in 2007 and will do the same this year. (juniors) Billy Bushong, who started as a sophomore receiver last year and will also compete for the quarterback spot this year; Andre Ti Hunter, a defensive end who also started in 2007; Zahir Nieblas, a returning starter at guard; Damon Lacy, a starter last year at linebacker who will also get some playing time on offense this year; and B.J. Griffin, who started at running back in 2007, but will be a 2-way player this year.
Griffin and Bushong are a couple of players to watch this year, according to Coach Frank. He points out that Griffin “has speed to go the length of the field any time he touches the ball,” and Bushong “is probably the best all-around athlete on the team.”
Desert Mountain HS head coach, Tony Tabor, says he is looking ahead to a new season with “cautious optimism.” His 4-6 Wolves are going into the third year of a complete overhaul of the football program.
Tabor, who was on staff at Chaparral HS before coming to DMHS three years ago, took part in three state championships at that school. His building program at Desert Mountain will have good overall talent this year, but a lack of depth and an untested offensive line is a cause for concern.
The Wolves played well in summer passing leagues and went down to the finals in tournaments at NAU and UofA, so Tabor admits he has high hopes of getting over the .500 hump and making it to the playoffs this year.
But they play a tough 5A-I schedule that includes Mesquite, North Canyon, Red Mountain, Desert Ridge, Mountain Ridge, Brophy, and St. Mary’s.
Tabor and his staff, which includes new offensive coordinator Greg Davis and new DB coach Grant Parham, have put the spotlight on a group of juniors and seniors that will be key to any success in 2008: (seniors) Jordan Fox, a receiver and DB who they say has ‘big time potential’ and could have a break-out year; Josh Hubner, rated by one service as the 21st best punter in the country, and also plays tight end; Rheshaun Lyn, a ‘mystery man’ that transferred in from New Jersey and hasn’t played football since his freshman year but qualified for state on the track team last year; Neusha Vakili, a 3-year starter at LB and RB who leads the defense; and Lance Harper, and third-year starter who is also the starting catcher on the baseball team and a good overall athlete. (juniors) Tyeler Davison, a 280 lb. nose guard that squats over 500 pounds and moves well on the field; Dekota D’Angelo, a receiver and DB who is the fastest player on the team with a 4.62 electronic 40; Kevin Radcliffe, a starter last year as a quarterback with a strong arm and a running back’s mentality; Kyle Tokasey, regarded by the coaching staff as the best defensive player and best overall athlete on the squad; Shane Williams, a strong running back (500 lb+ squat) that also makes his share of plays at the LB position; Josh Simon, a 190 lb. guard on offense and nose guard on defense who coaches say has ‘an unbelievable verical jump (36) and Powerclean (275×5); and Matt Delvalle, a starter last year at RB and DB who is said to have good overall strength and ‘lots of potential’.