Like many coaches, Maryvale head coach Tom Bruney was very pleased with the progress the Panthers made during spring football camp. Probably their main focus was adjusting to a new offense to better fit their personnel and the kids did a great job adjusting to this new scheme and philosophy.
Offensively, Jermaine Williams (6'4-250) looks much quicker that he was a year ago, according to Bruney. He looked very quick hitting the holes, has improved his vision in terms of reading the point of attack and has improved reading his blocks; Bruney attributes that to some of the drills they did this winter. RB Ronald Huckaby (5'9-165) will give big Jermaine a spell on O and be a good change of pace back. They look to be a dangerous one-two punch in the backfield this season.
Maryvale has never struggled finding top notch skill guys but some size and depth up front has seemingly been the missing piece to the puzzle. This year, Henry Castro (6'2-250) and Juan Cruz (6'0-255) return to anchor the left side of the offensive line for the 3rd season in a row. A few new faces have climbed to the top of the depth chart. Martin Sanchez (5'10-230) will take over at center and Askia Muhammad (6'3-215) at RT. Both were impressive in their progress during spring camp. Muhammad started at TE last season as a junior.
At the skill positions, several vets progressed as expected during the spring. Three year starters Robert Allen (5'8-170) and Demetrius Stewart (5'11-198) are much quicker off the ball from the slot position and have improved their hands tremendously during the off-season. On the outside, Noah Burkes and Matt Walton have also shown much improvement and look to fill Jose Gutierrez's shoes. A new addition to the receiving core is John Pena (5'9-150). John has been the starting point guard on the basketball team since his Freshman year and finally decided to come out for football. Bruney says that Pena, "has certainly turned some heads this spring. He has great feet, good quickness and catches the ball very well. He may become our surprise player of the year."
Oscar Navarro returns at the QB position for his 3rd year as a starter. He threw for 1200 yards as a sophomore and 1400 yards as a junior. After 3 years at the controls, he has shown a lot of maturity and leadership thus far this off season.
Defensively, the defensive line looks to be solid this season. Anchoring the strong side will be Jermaine Williams at end. Also look for Carl Hayden transfer Armando Garcia (6'1-300) to make an impact.
Maryvale returns all four of their LB starters from last year. Eric Williams (6'3-215-Jermaine's brother) returns at the Mike LB and Miguel Sesmas (5'9-200) starts again at the Will LB. Deyon Bowser (6'1-185) will return to play the Sam LB for the 3rd year. He has proven to be very physical and now has a good grasp of their new scheme. Michael Davis returns to play OLB. He started last season as a sophomore and recorded 11 sacks from that position.
Both corners return for a 3rd season as well. D1 prospects, Brantwon Bowser (6'1-180) and Robert Allen will man these posts again this season. Both have shown tremendous improvement since last year, according to Bruney. Also look for Huckaby, Pena and sophomore Michael McCord (5'9-160) to provide some depth at corner allowing them to play as few as 2 players both ways this season. Demetrius Stewart will return to play his Rover (SS) position for the 3rd season in a row. Bruney feels that Stewart may be their best two way player.
Look for Maryvale to make another run at the playoffs with all of the experience and athleticism that will be on the field comes Friday nights.