AZ & California prep football ‘all-stars’ meet again tonight

Insanity in the Summer is back.  Officially called the Arizona-Southern California all-star high school football game, the event will notch its second year in existence when teams from the two states meet tonight at Surprise Stadium.

By the time the 7 p.m. kickoff rolls around, the desert temperature should have settled into a mild 100 degrees – give or take a degree or two.

The sun won’t even be down yet.

Organizers from the Arizona Football Coaches Association estimated there were around 3,000 spectators for the 2011 inaugural game that Southern California won going away, 27-7.  Not much of a reward for the Arizona fans that sweat through the two hours of discomfort.

(*Update:  Arizona evened the score this year, squeezing out a 21-16 win by taking a 21-9 lead late in the third quarter and holding off a late Southern California rally.)

Arizona’s only score came courtesy of the California quarterback, who fumbled the ball deep in Arizona territory, enabling Vernon Adams to recover it and run it back 82 yards to actually give the host team a 7-6 lead at the half.  (See 6/27/11 phxfan article)

Calling this an “all-star” game stretches the definition a little, since the event is designed for recently-graduated players and the best of them have already committed to college programs, which means they’ve moved on.

What are the chances a college coach wants to allow his new commits to play in a basically meaningless game that could result in serious injury that would affect his program in the fall?  Slim and none.

“We were able to get a lot of good players, I like our team” the Arizona head coach, Dan Hinds, was quoted as saying in an Arizona Republic article a couple of days ago. ”  But Hinds, who is the head coach of the Division I champion, Desert Vista High School, also admitted in the same story that he was still struggling in the final week before the game to find enough players to fill out his roster.  In fact, he wasn’t able to round up even one player from his own team.

So the ridiculous weather is not the only downside to this event.  But it has to be the biggest obstacle to its success right now.

Last year, the event’s organizers explained they were hoping to be able to move the game to a winter date, preferably some time in December or January.  In order to do that, they would need to get the Arizona Interscholastic Association to change its bylaws that prohibit ‘all-star’ games being played during the school year.

Evidently, that still hasn’t happened.

The organizers were also talking about grand plans for the event that would include ESPN coverage of the game to a national audience, and the addition of a big-name sponsor.

That, too, is evidently still off in the future.

In the meantime, the game will kick off in triple-digit weather with a roster of good, but not necessarily great, high school football players from 22 schools around the state.  None of them, by the way, have been involved with this kind of football competition for more than six months.

To their credit, the organizers found a way to hold the fans’ interest during halftime – and keep their minds off the heat.  The final round of a 7-on-7 passing tournament will take place during the intermission.

Hopefully, that won’t be the most excitement generated for Arizona fans tonight.

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Here’s the most recent roster of participating players:

Eight schools have two players representing them on the squad, including Sabino High School (Dallas Brown, Jeremy Timpf), Apollo HS (Sam Martinez, Jon Brown), Westview HS (Chuks Amaechi, Shayne Miller), Cienega HS (Daniel Gonzales, Edgar Poe), Willow Canyon HS (Gabe Swaba, Streeter Turner), Pinnacle HS (Nick Ziegenbein, Addison Palomino), Brophy Prep (Fred Gammage, Matt Cahal), and Boulder Creek HS (Beau Kitson, Austin Farnlof).

Rounding out the roster are: Damani Mosby (Desert Ridge HS), Josh Weeks (Show Low HS), Logan Watts (Perry HS), Josh Bamrick (Mesquite HS), Quintin Kime (Canyon del Oro HS), Mitch Fischer (Ironwood Ridge HS), Ben Kullos (Liberty HS), Ryan Hawkins (Sunrise Mountain HS), Guy Williams (Cactus HS), Rashad Baker (Marcos de Niza HS), Talaisi Taueli (Mesa HS), Dalten Lane (Gilbert HS), Raynon Blackshire (Mountain Pointe HS), and Tabor Matti (Deer Valley HS).