WOODY REPORT #10
The East Valley Region. Those words should strike fear in the hearts of any 5A football fan outside Mesa. Why? Well, let's start with the obvious-the last three state champions have come out of this region, and if not for a one-year break in '98, every 5A crown since 1996 would reside in Mesa city limits.
- RED MOUNTAIN LIONS- The past two years have been close to flawless for Jim Jones' crew, going 25-3 with back-to-back state championships. Coming back for the Lions this year are QB Steve Smith, perhaps the most athletic quarterback in the state, and junior DL Aaron Fernandez, a phenom who was named all-state as a sophomore. Like most teams in this region, Red Mountain has solid size.
- MOUNTAIN VIEW TOROS- The premier program in 5A, the Toros went through a lot during the offseason, losing their coach following an overly long process that the media seemed to drag out. Former Marcos coach Tom Joseph comes over, bringing the wing-T to Toroland. Along with Max Hall, two guys with ties to former Toros who quarterbacked college team-Golden Goodman (brother Griffin was a thrower for ASU) and Max Germaine (brother Joe played for Ohio St. and now plays for the Chiefs). Wide receiver Cody Malone is one of the state's fastest players, clocking in at 10.75 in the 100 during the spring.
- MESA JACKRABBITS- Even though rival Westwood returns more players, Mesa's long string of wins over the Warriors makes me want to give them the nod. Among Coach Bill McKane's returnees is LB Jarrett Stradling, the best among a group of good linebackers. Veterans also return at receiver. Last year's 4-6 campaign was Mesa's first losing season in 17 years.
- WESTWOOD WARRIORS- I'm not really sure what to make of these guys-sure they return a strong number of players, but the fact that they got swept by the entire region minus Skyline doesn't sit well with me. On the bright side, they do return their quarterback in Ben Beavers, as well as running back Alexis Arrieta. Unfortunately, neither guy was overly spectacular last season.
- DOBSON MUSTANGS- These guys made huge strides in Coach Tom DeMassa's first year (a master motivator, DeMassa brought in the dude from Rudy before last season; how cool is that), going 6-4 and notching a win over rival Westwood. Despite losing a lot of talent from last year, the Mustangs almost always have one of Mesa's best JV squads, giving Dobson fans some hope. DeMassa has these guys on the right track.
- SKYLINE COYOTES- Things do not look good out here, where inexperience is aplenty after winning just one game. If QB Jesse Hamblin can get some protection, Skyline might be able to pull off some shockers.