It was as if the heavens opened and dropped a couple of soccer gifts into the Pinnacle and Hamilton high school programs this season. Hamilton was able to turn its unexpected largess into a state title.
Kelsey Turnbow, this year’s az central sports Big Schools Girls’ Player of the Year, helped the Pinnacle Pioneers to a 12-7-1 record this season, but the team made it only as far as the state quarterfinals.
Josh Drack, the Big Schools Boys’ Player of the Year, led Hamilton to a 19-win season and a No. 3 seed in the state tourney, and then helped the Huskies win their first D-I state title since 2012 by beating Gilbert High in the championship game, 2-1.
For Hamilton, it just seemed like a case of the rich getting richer when Drack showed up on its doorstep at the start of this season. The Huskies have played in five of the last seven state title games.
The junior forward played his freshman and sophomore seasons at the Real Salt Lake Arizona Academy in Casa Grande. And now, after a POY season at Hamilton, has moved on to Oregon where he will play for the Portland Timbers Academy.
He contributed 25 goals and 12 assists while on the field for the Huskies and was the team captain during his award-wining season at the Chandler school.
Turnbow, too, has moved on from the Pinnacle program after scoring 33 goals and dishing out four assists in her junior year and earning POY honors. She is on schedule to graduate early so that she can begin her college career at Santa Clara University next January.
By the time she had decided to make the move from Washington, where she grew up, to Arizona, the athletic forward had already pocketed Gatorade State Girls Player of the Year awards as a freshman and sophomore. Her new coach at Pinnacle, Suzanne Kirchner, couldn’t believe her luck when she found out Turnbow had picked the north Phoenix school to play out her junior year.
Turnbow had an immediate impact on the Pinnacle program, provided her new teammates with additional leadership, and was a role model for the younger players, says her coach.
The Small Schools Players of the Year came from schools spread across the state. Leah Carillo, the girls’ POY, scored 16 goals and added 25 assists at Fountain Hills High School to nail down her second straight Player of the Year honor. The 5’7″ senior has been instrumental in the Falcons’ two state titles over the last three years.
Jorge Ruiz is the boys’ POY recipient after a break-out year as a senior that finished with 25 goals and 24 assists. His play helped Yuma Catholic to its second consecutive D-III state championship and has begun to bring attention from college recruiters. Ruiz says he has offers from a trio of schools, from D-I through D-III.