THE WOODY REPORT-2003 WEST VALLEY REGION PREVIEW
The West Valley Region looked fierce on paper in 2002-three 1,000-yard backs returning, three teams that had made the playoffs in 2001, and three teams ranked in the top six among 4A teams in the preseason. But, by the end of the year, the region had barely made a whimper, with Millennium and Tolleson being the region's only playoff teams and Tolleson saving some credibility for the region by advancing to the state semis.
- MILLENNIUM TIGERS- With Tolleson's departure to 5A, the region is clearly Millennium's for the taking. While they lose a lot of talent, most notably two-time 1,000-yard rusher Taryll Galloway, three-year varsity quarterback Regan McCarthy, and all-state honorable mention receiver Nathan Mosby, the Tigers do have standout performers returning in the backfield, as well as some nice size up front. Junior Mekal Taylor played a huge role on last year's team after injuries beset Galloway and running mate Chaz Miles, while QB/DB Tate Ford will take over for McCarthy; he's received spot action under center since his sophomore year. Up front Christian Quintana (5-10, 221) was an honorable mention all-region pick, and defensively end Chris Hunter (6-2, 206) was a second-team pick. Despite making two playoff trips in four varsity seasons, the Tigers best days seem to be in front of them-the Millennium JV went 7-1 without the services of Taylor on the year, and the frosh squad went 8-0, giving up less than 14 points in 7 of those victories.
- AGUA FRIA OWLS- I hate to say it, but they get this spot almost by default-coaching changes and graduation have wiped out most of the region, so I have to go with tradition here. Best returnee for the Owls looks like senior Ernie Perez, a first-team all-region selection at defensive end in 2002. WR/CB Drew Goodwin was an honorable mention all-region pick last season, and RB/CB Jimmy Carreon, FB/LB Cody Teeples, and OG/LB Eric Harrison are all three-year varsity players. Five-foot-seven quarterback Brad Goss also returns, and super-fast junior Brian Stroughter (11.03 100-meter at Buckeye Lion's Invite) could be the next great Owl running back.
- BUCKEYE HAWKS- This ranking is almost entirely pending on the availability of all-region running back Frankie Wilson, who has been rumored to be sitting out the season due to a personal matter; he's a 1,000-yard rusher with the ability to bust out a long run at any time. At quarterback, Billy Ray Weatherford takes over for the departed Nathan "Pappy" Bolden. Starting in Bolden's place, Weatherford was solid in the Hawks' season opener versus Apollo. Joining Wilson and Weatherford in the backfield will be fullback Dylan Maki, a junior that started as a sophomore. Defensively, junior linebacker Brice Caldwell and senior defensive end Will Grandy look to be the best amongst the Hawks. If Wilson does play, look for Buckeye to challenge for a playoff spot.
- DYSART DEMONS- The clock is running for Dysart; with Surprise's Willow Canyon being added to the district, the Demons could see their talent divided in half in 2-3 years, a la Buckeye and newbie Estrella Foothills. Fortunately, Dysart has some strong, young talent coming back, with senior QB/LB Paul Martinez leading the way. Two talented juniors will be featured, with tight end Adrian Ward and defensive lineman Ricky Lopez being two of just three sophs on the Republic's all-West Valley team. Lopez is a 6-1, 245-pounder who teams up with fellow junior Donnie Ornelas to form a talented, young pair of two-way tackles. Overall the junior class looks tough-the JV squad played that talented Millennium team tough before falling 14-6.
- MOHAVE THUNDERBIRDS- With the loss of super-talented back Tristan Green, it's back to business as usual for Mohave. Unfortunately, that "business" is finishing in the cellar of the WVR. With the loss of Green and friends, as well as the emergence of Dysart's young talent, Mohave won't get a third straight season of non-basement play.