This is one of the toughest regions in the entire state. There is a ton of talent and all seven of these teams made the playoffs in their respective divisions last year. Saguaro and Chaparral seem to be the teams to beat and their rivalry game will more then likely be for the region title.
3. Apache Junction
7. Cactus Shadows
Saguaro- Saguaro went 13-1 and won the
state championship last season. The Sabercats averaged over 35 points per game
and only gave up 11. Their only speed bump was a three point loss to Chaparral.
They return a vast majority of their team from last year but their biggest loss
was head coach Mike Reardon taking the job at
It all starts up front and Saguaro
returns one of the best offensive lines in the state. Chris Merrill, Derek Bisgard and Joe Kellogg all return to open up holes for junior RB Beau Burton.
Defensively, they must replace
safety Tabach and his 16 INTs as well as
Merrill and Bisgard return along
the d-line. Both have D1 offers and Merrill has committed to UofA. Add 6-4 270
pound junior DT Corey Adams and you have one formidable front. LBs Jake Dunn and
Bret Spotleson return and
The region is tough and so is their schedule with an amazing nine of their opponents making the playoffs last year but I like what Saguaro has back and they are my early favorite to not only win the region but repeat as state champs.
Key Losses: WR/DB Shane Anderson, DB/WR Max Tabach, OL Garrett Schmenk, OL Ryan Fowler, DL John Sobczuk, DB Chris Soto, HC Mike Reardon
Key Returners: RB Beau
Chaparral- Ron Estabrook turned this
program from a winless program in the 90's to a perennial state championship
contender. He led the Firebirds to an 11-3 record last season and has passed the
torch to Charlie Ragle. Ragle was an assistant at
Like any team, Chaparral took
their losses due to graduation. QB Casey Lytle was great last season and
WR Vince Coleman will walk-on at UofA but Mike Cummings will be the go to guy in the air. He looks to improve on his 35 catch 790 yards junior season. If the offensive line can jell, this could be one of the most dangerous offenses in 4A.
On defense, they return a very experienced secondary where DBs Cummings and Derek Oesterblad accounted for 14 INTs. Losing middle backer Matt Phelan and most of their d-line hurts but if they can come together, Chaparral is a serious contender for the 4A title.
Key Losses: QB Casey Lytle, WR Vince Coleman, OL Matt Streich, LB Matt Phelan, OL Brennan Rieffel, OL Randell Bymoen, RB Matt Peterson, DL Alex Shih, DL Rodney Shaw, DL TJ Corley, LB Brock Claffey, K Stathis Kondylis, HC Ron Estabrook
Key Returners: RB/DB Deveron Carr, WR/DB Mike Cummings, LB Charlie Lytle, CB Easton White, DB Derek Oesterblad, QB Blake Schembri, HC Charlie Ragle
Apache Junction- AJ jumps up from 4A2 where they
went 9-5 and made some noise in the 4A2 playoff race. They take some heavy
losses including head coach Max Ragsdale taking a coordinator job at
The Prospectors schedule is a tough one and if they can stay healthy, I think they could have a winning season despite their losses and move up to 4A.
Key Losses: DB/WR/P Justin Higuera, OL Zach Tourangeau, DB Dalton Hoch, LB Steve Duarte, DL John Taylor, K/DB Cody Morrow, RB/DB Jake Celis, LB Ruben Diaz, HC Max Ragsdale
Key Returners: QB Dan Ambrosio, RB Shane McCullen, OL/DL Louie Crespo, HC Rich Milligan
Their schedule is tough and you can always count on PV being a solid squad. The move down to 4A will not be as easy as some people may think, especially landing in this region, but with 24 players returning don't underestimate them.
Key Losses: RB Mike Williams, OL Alex Miller, OL/DL Victor Atteh, RB Charles Hubbard, DB Jacob Intorcia, LB Jacob Igono, OL Anthony Walker
Key Returners: WR Chris McFaul, DB Dylan Borys, QB Grant O'Brien, OL Nick Sabye
Shadow Mountain- The Matadors went 3-8 last year as a 5A2 team. They lost to all seven playoff teams they faced with a very young team that dressed 17 sophomores. The most glaring needs for Coach Sekoch are at QB and DB. Nick Amari departs as does 3/4ths of his secondary. RB Richard Garcia is back after rushing for 762 yards and earning all region honors and a big group of young linemen are eager to open holes from him headed by junior Doug Zismann. They also return one of the state's most under-rated players in LB Tyler Juede. He racked up 139 tackles last year and is being recruited by many Ivy League schools.
The schedule is working against
Key Losses: DB Chase Hunter, DB Bryce Mallette, OL Riley Truitt, QB Nick Amari, DB Gerald Flunder
Key Returners: OL Doug Zismann, DT Ryan Shaw, LB/P Tyler Juede, RB Richard Garcia, WR Mike McLeran
McClintock- Steve Campbell departs and Mike Gibbons takes the reigns of a Charger team that lost in the first round of the playoffs last year. It hurts losing Mack Martin and his 1400 yards rushing but Malcolm Martin returns at wideout and looks to be the leader of this offense along with QB Kelly Kurzman. Whoever replaces Martin at tailback will have a devastating lead blocker. David Blair is well known for his skills at linebacker, but watch him block and you will see a kid that loves contact.
Overall, 33 players are back for Gibbons but a replacement for Martin is essential to this team's quest for another playoff birth.
Key Losses: OL Ben Erickson, RB Mack Martin, OL Justin Ward, DL Koree Simpson, DL Faustin Kapelemba, LB Josh Thomas, DB Andre Jackson, DL Barrett Parker, WR/DB Josh Hardin, HC Steve Campbell
Key Returners: WR Malcolm Martin, LB/FB David Blair, WR/DB Jeremy Wittig, HC Mike Gibbons
Cactus Shadows- Losing 95% of your offense is never a good thing especially when you are moving up into a tough Desert Sky Region. The Falcons lose QB Phillip Aholt and his 3592 passing yards, RB Eric Gorriaz and their top five receivers. Their leading returning Johnny Barro only accounted for 228 rushing yards last year.
They good news is they only lose 17 players and return 32 but the 17 they lose were their main sources of offense and multi-position players. Coach Chad DeGrenier will have his work cut out for him trying to fill all of the holes on offense. The defense does return DE Chris Manship and LB Matt Williams but the team will get no time to breathe as they play 8 teams that were playoff bound last year. I expect the Falcons to be competitive but they lost their workhorses at the wrong time, jumping up to 4A1.
Key Losses: RB Eric Gorriaz, QB Phillip Aholt, WR Kyle Watkins, OL Ryan Patchak, OL Chris Sclafani, DB/WR/K Kyle Royer, DB/RB Kyle Foley, LB Sean January
Key Returners: DL Chris Manship, OL Alec Wightman, OL Ryan Sterner
QB- Tim Ruben- Saguaro
RB- Shane McCullen (JR)- Apache Junction
WR- Mike Cummings- Chaparral
WR- Malcolm Martin- McClintock
TE- Rusty Fernando (JR)- Apache Junction
OL- Chris Merill- Saguaro
OL- Derek Bisgard- Saguaro
OL- Joe Kellogg- Saguaro
OL- Doug Zismann (JR)- Shadow
OL- Louie Crespo- Apache Junction
K- Danny Compton (JR)-
Return- Deveron Carr- Chaparral
DL- Corey Adams (JR)- Saguaro
DL- Chris Merrill- Saguaro
DL- Derek Bisgard- Saguaro
DL- Chris Manship- Cactus Shadows
LB- David Blair- McClintock
LB- Charlie Lytle- Chaparral
DB- Deveron Carr- Chaparral
DB- Mike Cummings- Chaparral
DB- Derek Oesterblad- Chaparral
DB- Paul Porras- Saguaro
Coach of the Year- John Sanders- Saguaro
Offensive Player of the Year- Mike Cummings- WR- Chaparral
Defensive Player of the Year- Chris Merrill- DL- Saguaro
1. Chris Merrill- OL/DL- Saguaro
2. Mike Cummings- WR/DB- Chaparral
3. Corey Adams (JR)- DT- Saguaro
4. David Blair- LB- McClintock
5. Shane McCullen- RB- Apache Junction
6. Derek Bisgard- OL/DL- Saguaro
7. Deveron Carr- RB/CB- Chaparral
9. Joe Kellogg- OL- Saguaro
10. Malcolm Martin- WR- McClintock
11. Doug Zismann (JR)-
13. Chris Manship- DL- Cactus
14. Louie Crespo- OL/DL- Apache Junction
15. Tim Ruben- QB- Saguaro