7. Liberty- Not playing varsity this year
Cactus- The Cobras have been one of the class teams in the state for years and I don't expect that to change. They went 8-4 last year and return nearly 30 players from that squad. The biggest hole to fill will be at QB where all region pick Ryan Underwood is gone. Cactus has a long tradition of developing QBs and I expect them to be just fine. With most of the QBs graduating in this region I actually pick new starter Jake Moreno as the all region QB. He loses top receiver Manny Solarez but gets back TE Corey Myers who has already committed to Army. This kid can run and has soft hands for a 6-5 230 pounder. On the opposite side is 6-4 230 pound TE Caleb Richardson. He hasn't played since his freshman year but watching him in passing league was impressive.
While the new QB breaks in, junior RB Mike Brown will be leaned heavily upon. He rushed for 1200 yards as a soph and is one of the fastest players in 4A. He will have a couple of all region linemen to block for him in Tony Brummel (1st team) and junior Chris Putton (HM)
The defense will be led by juniors Phillip Pollock (LB) and Austin Brunke (DB). Pollock led the team in tackles last year and both were honorable mention all region picks as sophomores.
This region is tough and I think if Cactus can get solid QB play, they are the team to beat.
Key Losses: QB Ryan Underwood, WR Manny Solarez, DL Valen Gerardo, LB Tim Lyerla, DB Rex Fulmer, DL Shane Estrada, DB Mohamed El Nounw, OL Matt Eberhart, WR Chris Rybacki
Key Returners: RB Mike Brown, TE Corey Myers, TE Caleb Richardson, OL Tony Brummel, WR/P Bruce Yeo, OL Chris Putton, LB Phillip Pollock, DB Austin Brunke, DL Zach Minter, K Chrisman Hughes
Peoria- Peoria went 9-4 last year and were a couple of close losses from being 11-2. They move down from 5A2 and have plenty of weapons to vie for the West Valley Region title.
The Panthers return stud junior RB Jamal Miles. Miles rushed for 1100 yards last year and is one of the fastest players in the state at any level. He is a threat to score any time he touches the ball and will be the next great Peoria RB. Not to be forgotten, Ezra Sanchez rushed for 800 yards himself last year and they both benefit with the return of fullback Rashad Yarbrough.
Stud WRs TJ Simpson and Chris Miranda will be tough to replace but look for big TE Jeff Dwyer to get more catches and junior Jeremy Dang to step up.
The offense will score points and the defense will be the key to this team. Junior Michael Rodriguez led the team in tackles last year and Martin Madrigal is an under-rated DB. These two will have to be the leaders of a defense that loses two all region DBs, two all region LBs and two all region DLs.
Key Losses: WR TJ Simpson, WR Chris Miranda, OL Rory Ross, DL Dan Brewer, DB Jordan Dancer, LB Cory Fonner, QB Vinnie Spano, DB Andrew Galindo, DL Jesse Armenta, LB Bryce Belle
Key Returners: RB Jamal Miles, OL Anthony Shaw, TE Jeff Dwyer, DB Martin Madrigal, RB Ezra Sanchez, RB Rashad Yarbrough, LB Michael Rodriguez
Millennium- A 4-7 season is uncharacteristic of Millennium and I don't expect a repeat performance. The Tigers were young last year and played a lot of sophomores up on the varsity.
This year they return their QB, one of their all region RBs and will be strong at linebacker with Jerry Alvarez and Johnny Carrasco returning.
The schedule is extremely tough with seven of their opponents making the playoffs last year. But this is a team that had won several West valley Region titles in the past before slipping under .500 last year. Like I said, they return some quality players and I would not count them out.
Key Losses: RB Akio Lloyd, OL Jonathan Strauther, DB Chad Lewis, DB Pat Pangle, DL Donald Miles, WR Anthony Dunkerly, LB Zack Tillia, OL Anwar El Habach
Key Returners: DL Victor Dominguez, LB Johnny Carrasco, OL Justin Vizzaino, RB Malcolm Oliver, TE Zac Livingston, LB Jerry Alvarez, K Taylor Rigsby, P Zac Livingston
Agua Fria- Agua Fria was a very talented team last year and they were deeper then just Everson Griffen. The Owls sent several players on to play at the JC level and all will be sorely missed. They were senior dominated and went undefeated until they played state champs Saguaro in the semi-finals.
The losses on defense might be bigger than the offenses as they lose an amazing eight players that received all region honors. Blazek doubles as a linebacker and Roy Perez and Brian Lawrence round out the crew. Ross will also play in the secondary. I like what I see in junior DEs Justin Lewis and Jesse Fleming. Both stand roughly 6-3 210 and are excellent athletes.
They too face a tough schedule with the vast majority of their opponents being playoff quality. Many are counting the Owls out because of their graduation loses but they are always tough and play hard and could more wins then people think.
Key Losses: DE/RB Everson Griffen, QB Mitch Wolfe, LB Tyler Heagney, WR/DB Rajric Coleman, LB Robert Hile, OL/DL Antonio Pritchett, OL Broc Gullett, OL Ivan Gonzales, K Sammy Solis, P Brad Busher, DB Jeremiah Arredondo, DB Bryant Martinez, DL JP Lannefors, TE Blake Gorle
Key Returners: OL Ian Blazek, OL Aaron Davis, WR Derrick Ross
Defensively they return all region DL RJ Sossman and DB Cody Westermeyer as well as 4 of their top 5 tacklers.
My guess is Havasu will improve on last year's win total and pull off an upset or two.
Key Losses: WR Josh Beikel, LB Josh Plummer, OL Brian Stokley
Key Returners: DL RJ Sossman, RB Brent Michaels, DB Cody Westermeyer
Copper Canyon- CC is led by respected head coach Ron Frank. They went 4-4 last year but this will be the team's first year with a full varsity schedule and way to be christened in with six opponents making last year's playoffs.
Liberty- Not playing varsity schedule and
QB- Trevor Athay- Havasu
RB- Mike Brown (JR)- Cactus
RB- Jamal Miles (JR)-
WR- Derrick Ross- Agua Fria
WR- Bruce Yeo- Cactus
TE- Corey Myers- Cactus
OL- Anthony Shaw-
OL- Ian Blazek- Agua Fria
OL- Justin Vizzaino- Millennium
OL- Tony Brummel- Cactus
OL- Chris Putton (JR)- Cactus
K- Chrisman Hughes- Cactus
Return- Jamal Miles- Peoria
DL- Victor Dominguez- Millennium
DL- RJ Sossaman- Havasu
DL- Justin Lewis (JR)-
DL- Zach Minter- Cactus
LB- Johnny Carrasco- Millennium
LB- Phillip Pollock (JR)- Cactus
LB- Mike Rodriguez (JR)-
DB- Martin Madrigal-
DB- Cody Westermeyer- Havasu
DB- Austin Brunke (JR)- Cactus
DB- Derrick Ross- Agua Fria
P- Bruce Yeo- Cactus
Coach of the Year- Larry Fetkenhier- Cactus
Offensive Player of the Year- Jamal Miles- RB- Peoria
Defensive Player of the Year- Johnny Carrasco- LB- Millennium
1. Jamal Miles (JR)- RB- Peoria
2. Mike Brown (JR)- RB- Cactus
3. Corey Myers- TE- Cactus
4. Derrick Ross- WR- Agua Fria
5. Johnny Carrasco- LB- Millennium
6. Caleb Richardson- TE- Cactus
7. RJ Sossaman- DL- Havasu
8. Tony Brummel- OL- Cactus
9. Ezra Sanchez- RB-
10. Trevor Athay- QB- Havasu