Shough, Purdy show why 2017 is ‘Year of the Prep QB’


There’s still a game left on the high school football regular-season schedule, but last week’s contest between Perry High School and Hamilton High put an exclamation mark on what could rightly be called the ‘Year of the Quarterback’ in Arizona.

Before the season began, we put the spotlight on a group of prep quarterbacks who were likely to make the biggest impact this season, confirming to college recruiters across the country that this state is producing talent at that position in increasing numbers each year.

Last Friday night, two in that group of elite throwers put together an exhibition that, from a scoring standpoint, more resembled a basketball game.  When the dust cleared, No. 5-ranked Perry and No. 1 Hamilton had combined for 128 points, with Perry winning the shootout, 65-63.

Brock Purdy stacked up 556 total yards of offense in leading Perry to the upset, 364 passing and 192 rushing.  He threw for four touchdowns and ran for three more on the way to contributing 48 of his team’s total points.

On the other side, Tyler Shough was busy challenging the Perry defense by throwing for 225 yards and three touchdowns, an impressive performance that, on this night, was overshadowed by Purdy’s body of work.

Shough has thrown for 2,454 yards this season, averaging 272 yards a game, and Purdy now has 2,613 yards while averaging an astounding 290 yards a game and posting a 67 percent completion rate.

Both players are seniors, putting an emphatic exclamation point on standout prep careers.  Shough will be playing next year for the Oregon Ducks, while Purdy is still looking for an offer from a power-5 program.  After last Friday’s display, that shouldn’t be too far away.

But Purdy and Shough are just two of Arizona’s top guns that are drawing huge interest.

Over at Pinnacle High Scho0l in far north Phoenix, Spencer Rattler is averaging 277 passing yards a game and has accumulated 2,771 yards on the season while putting up an impressive .688 percent completion rate.   And in Scottsdale, Max Massingale at Saguaro High has a .709 completion rate and 2,135 total passing yards.

A couple more on the pre-season watch list haven’t had the chance to show what they could do this year, a result of circumstances beyond their control.  Yet, they are still putting up good numbers.

Jacob Conover threw for more than 3,000 yards last season and was expected to have another great season as a junior at 6A reigning state champion Chandler High, but an injury in the second game of the season has limited him to four games.  But he’s still on the verge of climbing over the 1,000-yard passing mark.  Conover has thrown for 940 yards, gobbling up 235 passing yards per game.

Scottsdale’s Chaparral High has been the focus of interest this season, since Jack Miller transferred in from Scottsdale Christian Academy where he broke a couple of state records while throwing for 3,653 yards and 53 touchdowns as a freshman.  The hype over Miller began last year when Ohio State offered the then-14-year-old a scholarship to play for the Buckeyes.

But working through his appeal with the Arizona Interscholastic Association to waive the usual transfer penalty that would have made him ineligible this season cost him a couple of games.  He has played in seven games, but still racked up 1,175 passing yards.

Miller still has a couple of years to make his mark, and Conover will have his senior season. But Purdy, Shough, and Massingale will be taking their show to the next level when they graduate next spring.

But it’s been a fun ride having them all reach their potential this season.

And that should make the playoffs even more entertaining.