SportZine’s 2009 High School Football Preview

                       Basha High School
    The Bears fell victim to Brophy Prep in the first round of the playoffs last year to put a cap on a so-so 6-5 season.  This year, the team goal is to win the 5A-I state championship, says head coach, Tim McBurney.
    This year, they will be playing in a new region that has four playoff teams from last year, so he has his work cut out.  But the team focused on speed during spring ball and McBurney is hoping that a transfer from Texas helps that strategy pay off.  He says that Dejon Walker, a 6’3″, 210 lb. wide receiver has been a pleasant surprise.
     The Bears return three starters on offense and six on defense, and then add to that some JV players expected to make an impact: Clay Karger, wide receiver; Dhane Cumberledge, defensive tackle; and Zach Williams at linebacker.
    And there were others who managed to stand out from the pack in the pre-season: Richard Parker, a wide receiver that runs the 40 in 4.43; Mike Benjamin, who returns to provide stability at quarterback; Jared Jones, who has been at linebacker since his sophomor year; Justin Gardner, an offensive tackle that is ranked No. 1 at his position; John Dillon, a tight end and defensive back that is a two-way starter; Jacob Smith, a powerful defensive tackle that placed in state competition in wrestling; Brandon Williams and Cody Roberts, both returning on the offensive line; and Terry Perkins in the defensive backfield.
                                              Liberty High School
       The Lions return all their starters from last year’s team – and this is the first year that the new school will have a senior class.  So this should be a very interesting year for head coach, Dan Filleman.
    “We are not the biggest team, but we are athletic, quick, and play with heart,” says Filleman in describing what he has to work with this year.  “We had a great off-season in the weight room, speed camp, passing leagues, and team camp.  They are well-prepared to play and compete all season long.”
    Liberty went 6-6 last year and will be playing in the 4A-II Skyline Region this year.  They finished second in their region, so they have some momentum going forward.
    With so many starters returning, there are many that Filleman expects to play key roles, including: senior quarterback Keegan Whipkey, who threw for 1400 yards and rushed for another 900 last year; Dan Mihelich, a senior running back who rushed for over 1,000 yards; Kyle Benedict, another senior and the leader of the defense at his linebacker position and who also had 51 catches for 710 yards when lining up in the wide receiver slot; Mitchell Kullos, a senior who is the strongest player on the team and quick off the ball on the defensive line; senior Curtis Barton, an aggressive and quick nose guard; Jeff Haney, who Filleman calls a “great linebacker” despite playing only four games last year as a junior due to a knee injury; Austin Hasquet, a linebacker who lead the team in tackles last year as a junior; Manny Noriega, a quick wide receiver who can make the big play; and Ben Crites, a solid player who anchors the squad in the middle at center.
    Filleman also called out a few others who will be returning and expected to be major contributors: Jose Cebreros, senior lineman; Brandon Austin, senior safety; Bobby Evans, senior defensive back; Brandon Croteau, a junior wide receiver; Geordan Key, a junior wide receiver; Steven Rakowski and Connor Sterrett, juniors on the offensive line; and Conner McRae, the junior kicker.