WOODY REPORT #3
The first in a series of region predictions, this week I'm previewing the Wells Fargo Region. I'll be previewing the rest of the Phoenix regions in 4A & 5A (I'll leave southern Arizona for the guys who know best):
- CACTUS COBRAS- The core of last year's offense, QB J.W. Lucas, RB Jovan Bonelli, and WR Wes James, are gone, as is most of a tough offensive line. But in their place steps up running backs Nigel Ricks and Matt Koehler; Koehler earned first-team all-region honors last year while Ricks played well in limited time as a sophomore. And the young linemen, with eight players weighing in at over 230-pounds, took first place at NAU's big man competition.
- PRESCOTT BADGERS- Gone is do-everything athlete Jason Pridie, but junior quarterback Chris Parker returns to make a bid for all-region honors. The Badgers aren't the biggest team (senior Ryan Johnson is the only returning varsity player over 200-pounds), but Prescott should have enough to get their way into the playoffs.
- BRADSHAW MOUNTAIN BEARS- Last year, Bradshaw just missed the playoffs, but with QB Chris Fessler and RB Reno Paccioni coming back, the Bears could make their first playoff trip as a 4A program; they are two of the state's top juniors. Paccioni established himself as an emerging star last year, with two runs of over 90-yards against Sunrise Mountain late in the year.
- CENTENNIAL COYOTES- What they lack in experience they make up for in pure athleticism. Two all-region players, OL Mikael Brewer and DB Eddie Porto, return. Brewer, one of the state's best prospects, will be joined on the line by Zack Nielsen, a fellow senior who received significant playing time last year. The dark horse to watch here is junior WR Bryan Haynes; a star sprinter, he could be the fastest player in all of 4A.
- SUNRISE MOUNTAIN MUSTANGS- Not much has gone down here since the Mustangs went 9-3 in 1999; that season has been followed up by 4-6 and 2-8 campaigns. They've had a solid off-season, placing third and fourth in NAU's big man competition and passing league (respectively), but in the one passing league game I saw I wasn't impressed. Sunrise will be giving up quite a bit to other region teams in terms of speed.
- PINNACLE PIONEERS- They're in a tough position; they lost their "money man" (Evan Boardman), went winless in region play, and they're probably going to 5A in 2003. Hopefully their enrollment will lift their chances, but I don't see a lot going on in the near future.