WOODY REPORT #9
Much like the Southwest Region, one team has dominated the Northwest Region since its inception. Peoria, with a 28-7 record in their three years at the 5A level, has lost just one region game during that span, and hasn't lost to a region foe since 1999. Mountain Ridge, the premier program in the Deer Valley School District, is not far behind, winning the 1998 region title and losing just twice (to Peoria) in the past two seasons. Both losses were close.
- PEORIA PANTHERS- Outside of Red Mountain and possibly Hamilton, no team has been as consistent in the past two years than Peoria, who are 21-3 during that span. But they have not been able to get past the quarterfinals either year. As usual, Coach Doug Clapp has a core group of grade-A athletes, led by bowling ball running back James McCollum (548 yards on 58 carries in '01), receiver Tim Toone (28 catches, 470 yards, 4 TDs), and all-state linebacker Ammon Wolfley (100 tackles, 8 for a loss). The Panthers will be tested early, playing Red Mountain at home on Sept. 27.
- MOUNTAIN RIDGE LIONS- After going 8-3 last year, the Lions break in new players at skill positions, starting with quarterback Brad Western and running back Eric Urbank in the backfield. Urbank, who started alongside now-departed star Diondre Travis in 2001, was an all-region pick. Ridge has some big boys on the o-line, averaging 260 straight across.
- IRONWOOD EAGLES- Once a powerhouse in 4A, Ironwood has found the going a little rougher in 5A, failing to make the playoffs every year since they moved up in 1997. This year, key players for the Eagles include big tackle Justin Tyler (6-8, 305) and quarterback Jason Murrietta, as well as 4 other first or second team all region picks. Murietta is a three-year starter at quarterback and holds the school record for touchdown passes in a game (5).
- KINGMAN BULLDOGS- I'm not going to even try to give an in-depth preview of these guys (I'm not THAT in-the-know), but I'll base my prediction on two things-first, their enrollment is close to 3,000, and second, Deer Valley is one of the valley's most underachieving programs and Goldwater is still Goldwater.
- DEER VALLEY SKYHAWKS- The Skyhawks, who were once a playoff regular in the early nineties, are now, as stated earlier, one of the valley's biggest underachievers on the field. Twenty-two lettermen return, including ten linemen over 200-pounds and second team all region receiver Kyle Sharp.
- GOLDWATER BULLDOGS- After being passed over by Horizon, former Husky assistant Dan Friedman headed west to take over the Bulldogs, winners of just six games in 4 years. The ‘Dogs have solid size at key positions, in particularly with LB Jason Peterson (5-10, 205), tackle Derrick Dillman (6-4, 245), FB/LB Dustin Haynes (6-2, 225), and RB/LB Josh Wilbur (5-11, 195).