Five years ago, Scott Stafford stepped onto the Glendale High School campus as a new Biology teacher. The boys' freshman team needed a head coach and he was hired. The following year, the head coaching position for boys' varsity basketball opened and Stafford was promoted. In his mind's eye, he knew that he had something very special in the years to follow.
"These seniors have been with me for all 4 years of my career here at Glendale. They are my kids." said Stafford. The companionship and sense of family that the Cardinals have shown has helped lead them to a point in the season that they have dreamed of for years. Coach Stafford noted just how far his team has exceeded their pre-season goals, "last year our team won its first region game in 5 years. Our goal this year was to finish in the top 5 in the region so we would have a chance to play in the region tournament this season."
They have done much more than that. The Cardinals captured the second seed in the Skyline region after a tough loss to Sunnyslope in the region championship game. They received a bid to the state tournament; after wins over Tucson Rincon, Agua Fria, and Flagstaff Coconino, this tightly-knit group finds themselves in the 4A State semifinals against a well-known foe – Glendale Apollo. The two teams are not from the same region, but they are very familiar with each other. Coach Stafford is cognizant of the familiarity as well, "most of our kids and Apollo's kids have grown up together…what a great opportunity for these kids."
Glendale boasts a very talented and experienced starting five. However, they are not well known throughout the Arizona basketball community.
William Nosie (Sr.), a 3-year varsity starter and the 2003 Arizona State 3-point shooting champion, is "Mr. Hustle" for Glendale. A back-to-back 2nd team All-Skyline region performer, Nosie has strong desire, dedication, and the ability to help all those with him on the court.
Darrin Dorsey (Sr.), a 2-year starter, is "instant offense" for the Cardinals. A 1st team All-Skyline region player, Dorsey has the ability to match up one on one with any player in the state.
DJ Nicholas (Jr.), starting since his freshman year, Nicholas has never averaged less than double digits in points and rebounds. He has played post and shooting guard in his career at Glendale. The 2005 Skyline Player of the Year, Nicholas' skill has helped lead the Cardinals to the semi-finals.
The starting five is rounded out by Luciano Mendez and Zach Anderson. Mendez, a three-year starter, is acclimated to Glendale basketball; Anderson is a relative newcomer. Coach Stafford spoke of his arrival and acceptance, "Zach Anderson moved to Glendale and instantly became part of our family. His basketball sense and ball handling abilities have allowed me to make the changes needed this year."
Stafford's seniors are exceptionally special because he has had the opportunity to coach them at life, "rides home after 3 ½ to 4 hour practices, long talks about life and relationships, grade checks, tough love, cutting kids…and the part I love most, watching them grow up."
Win or lose against Apollo, this season for Glendale will always be magical for Scott Stafford, his assistants: Shannon Anderson, Eric Ballew, and Roger Scott, and – most importantly – the team.
The most crucial ingredient of success is a coach and staff who genuinely care for the team.
Coach Scott Stafford sums up his feeling for the team in a simple, yet powerful phrase, "I LOVE THESE GUYS."