WOODY REPORT #7
Last year, the Desert Sky Region had only one team make it to the playoffs. But, once there, the Greenway Demons made the most of it, advancing all the way to the state title game, losing to Tucson's Sunnyside Blue Devils. With several key players returning from last year's team, the Demons are looking to take the next step.
- GREENWAY DEMONS- Someone should use last year's Demon squad as an example of what a tough non-region schedule can do for a team. After going just 3-2 with arguably the toughest non-region slate around (after a 1-2 start), Greenway rolled off 10 straight before falling to Sunnyside in the finals. Returning for the Demons are Dave Henry and Sean Laidlaw, two of the best two-way players in the state. Henry, the team's quarterback, had 17 TD throws last year, while Laidlaw had 7 TD catches to go with 7 INTs. Senior Brandon Halverson gives Coach Mike Brown a solid runner in the backfield.
- APOLLO HAWKS- After getting off to a great start last year with a 27-21 OT win over a ranked Buckeye squad, the Hawks sputtered, losing the rest of their non-region games to effectively kill their playoff hopes. This year, Apollo builds their team around a stable of young running backs, led by Toussainte Zolnierez, Jeremy Coomes, and Ernie Solares, all of which had moments of brilliance in 2001. Size is lacking in the upper class ranks, but five underclassmen over 230-pounds (including 2 300-pounders) should make up for it.
- LAKE HAVASU KNIGHTS- Ah yes, these guys. What's to say about Havasu other than that last year the parents in this program put on the best show of dysfunction this side of Jerry Springer. They have solid size and some above-par athletes, but the fact that they're already talking about how good they are before they've proven anything shows that they are in need of a reality check.
- CACTUS SHADOWS FALCONS- Ugh…in any other region, any of these last three teams would be in the basement. With the graduation of quarterback Jake van der Stadt, the Falcons lost their one potential offensive threat. The talent's been there before, and rather recently-the 1999 team went 7-2-1 and made the playoffs. Now if only they could re-discover that magic.
- CORTEZ COLTS- I'm taking these guys over Independence because Cortez at least has a small semblance of winning tradition. In coach Brian Galbreath they bring back perhaps the best player in school history-he once ran for 353 yards in a 1991 game. My sources tell me the first thing he did when he got the job was get everyone in the weight room regularly, something that was missing under former coach Vito Maynes. Here's my prediction-they'll struggle at first, but in 3 years Galbreath will have the Colts back over .500.
- INDEPENDENCE PATRIOTS- First, the good news-Sollenberger's 2A Coach of the Year, former Morenci head man Kelley Moore, takes over at Indy. Now, the bad news-entering their twentieth year, the Patriots have yet to produce a winning season. Couple that with just 12 returning varsity players (total roster in '01 was 23) and Independence is likely to be in for another long year.