- Going into next season, Bradshaw Mountain of Prescott Valley looks to be a sleeper pick in 4A. The Bears return an experienced quarterback in Chris Fessler, and have perhaps the best back in the Wells Fargo Region in junior-to-be Reno Paccioni. If the Bradshaw defense can shore up (you can't go giving up 65 and 44 points to Cactus and Prescott and expect to win many games), they stand a good chance to make a run at Cactus and Prescott for the top spot out of the Wells Fargo.
- Who are some other sleepers around the state? Well, out in Bullhead City, Mohave seems to have finally put together a solid core group of athletes, lead by all-region back Tristan Green. With a junior-dominated squad last season, the T-birds went 1-9, but were competitive in every contest and finished out of the West Valley Region cellar for the first time since 1996. Also, Sinagua and Coconino of Flagstaff both return strong talent from respective 5-5 and 7-3 squads, and out in Scottsdale Coronado High looks to give perennial East Sky powers Saguaro and Chaparral a run for this year's East Sky crown.
- The race in the West Valley Region looks to be between Millennium and Tolleson. Despite losing a mid-season game to the Wolverines, Millennium won the region in 2001 and advanced to the state quarterfinals, where they fell to eventual state champ Sunnyside. Key returnees for the Tigers are 1,000-yard rusher Taryll Galloway (one of the state's fastest players), all-purpose back Chaz Miles, and linemen Taylor Cantu (a first-team region pick at center), Alex Waddell, and Royce Reed. Tolleson's chances can be summed up in two words: Marcus Thomas. Thomas goes into 2002 as a top 5 Division 1 prospect for the state, coming off a 2,000-yard season as a junior. The Wolverines chances hinge on their workhorse's ability to stay healthy, as well as their defense making improvements in the off-season.
- Anyone interested in passing leagues, I know that last summer Deer Valley had one on Friday mornings, and I assume they will have it again this year. If anyone has any additional information on this league or any other passing leagues, let me know. I'm going to try to make the rounds at some of the various leagues/tournaments this off-season, and hopefully I'll be able to give weekly updates.
- If what's going on during the track season is any indication, Peoria's Centennial should have one of the fastest teams in the state next year. If JV football players Bryan Haynes (ranked second in 4A at 100-meters, ranked first at 200-meters), Marcus House (ranked seventh in 4A in the 100), and Danny Marini (lead leg for the Coyotes' top-ranked 4x400 relay team) are promoted to varsity, they will join fellow track standout (and second-team Wells Fargo defensive back) Eddie Porto to give Coach Dick Taylor a speedy arsenal to complement big linemen Mikael Brewer (6-4, 285; state heavyweight wrestling champ) and Zack Nielsen (6-4, 250).
- Most schools have off-season rites of passage, whether it is weight training or passing leagues or speed camps, but a new trend seems to have developed at Sunrise Mountain. For the second year in a row, many of the team's top players have made the decision to sit out their senior years. According to my sources, starting running back Bobby Silvagnoli, starting defensive lineman Justin Smith, linebacker Daniel Escobar, safety Nick Pampa, and offensive lineman Brian Barton have decided to not play their final high school season. Last year, numerous Mustang players, a group including former starters quarterback Mike Del Ponte and offensive lineman Adam Ortiz, made the decision to sit out the fall athletic season or transfer to another program.
The Woody Report #1
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