4A1 Western Sky Region Preview

This new region has a good mixture of some quality programs that should lead to an interesting year.

4A1 Western Sky Region




The Western Sky makes up a pretty interesting region. Sunnyslope moves up from 4A2 while O'Connor moves down from 5A2 and while may would probably pick Independence as the favorite, as they have been very solid over the past few years, they are a question mark with a new coach. How will Apollo do without Prince and his 2500 yards of offense? This region is up for grabs in my opinion and I would not count anyone out.




1. Prescott

2. Independence

3. O'Connor

4. Sunnyslope

5. Thunderbird

6. Apollo




Prescott- Prescott was a very good team last year. They went 9-3 and took Agua Fria to the wire in the playoffs. Gone from that team are starting QB Dan Trail, 1000 yard rusher Anthony Guzman and three way all region pick Jeff Seastrand. Levi Carter will be asked to take over Guzman's spot at RB and it looks like Keith Knudson could be a multi-position all region guy like Seastrand.


On defense, they return possibly the most under-rated DT in the state in Issac Chavez. He recorded 68 tackles and 5.5 sacks from his DT spot. Chavez, LB Lopati Hochee and DB Skylar Branch will be the leaders up front and will need to step it up until replacements on offense can be found.


The Badgers open up with tough games against Saguaro and Chaparral but I think the rest of the schedule has some winnable games. A week 10 match-up versus Independence will more than likely be for the region title.


Key Losses: RB Anthony Guzman, WR/DB/P Jeff Seastrand, QB Dan Trail, OL Clay Bewley, DL Clay Wright, DL Eric Petroff, LB Josh Wederski


Key Returners: DL Issac Chavez, OL Troy Boehm, DB Skylar Branch, K/WR Keith Knudson


Independence- Kelley Moore really had this team on the right track; he had the Patriots winning some games as they were truly a team to watch out for. Last season they went 9-2 and Coach Moore took the head job at Mesa High.


Along with Moore, the Pats lose four-position all region pick Jose Sanchez who is playing at GCC and will be tough to replace. Their QB departs as does their top two rushers. Their top returning players look to be TyQuan Wilson and Kyree Perkins, who were named all region last year.


Independence was a junior dominated squad last year and returns 31 players from last year's roster. Their non-conference schedule is tough this year as they take on Sabino, Peoria, Notre Dame, AJ and Greenway before they even get to region play. Winning 9 games again may be tough but I still think Independence will contend for the region title.


Key Losses: OL/DL/P/K Jose Sanchez, OL Ben Alonzo, DB/RB Derrick Lowe, DL Jarrid Nash, LB Matt Young, RB JaMichael Young, FB Paul Mills, LB Manny Hiles, HC Kelley Moore


Key Returners: DB TyQuan Wilson, WR Kyree Perkins


O'Connor- A move down from 5A2 after a having some success could mean good things for Coach Mey and O'Connor. They play a tough schedule and the road will not be as easy as some may think.


Coach Mey tells 24-7, "This will be the best team we have ever had at O'Connor.  However, the move down to 4A1 may not be as pleasant as some think. Our non region schedule this season is much tougher than anything we have seen in the past.  Paradise Valley, Agua Fria, Cactus and Mingus are very tough along with Independence, Apollo, and Prescott in our region.  I feel out of 10 games 7 of our opponents are in the top 10 of all 4A. That will help us in power points and hopefully playoff experience - if we get there."


They have some quality player returning and I think O'Connor could vie for a playoff spot.


Key Losses: DB/WR Steve Van Kolen, LB Kyle McElroy


Key Returners: OL/LB Robert Robbins, RB Tyler Rajec, TE Justin McElroy, QB Bruce Eisenhauer


Sunnyslope- Slope went 8-5 last year against a tough schedule. They were competitive and played most of their games close. They move up to 4A1 and have a schedule with half of their opponents making the playoffs last year.


In all, 18 seniors depart and the losses are heavy on defense with tackling machine Matt Schillington departing as well as DL Casey Mahoney, LB Andrew Belew and DB/QB Sean Maraz who is headed to Cal-Davis.


A lot of Slope's players have typically gone both ways here and I expect things to be similar this year. This causes obvious depth concerns and an injury could mean the loss of two starters but if they can stay healthy, Sunnyslope always has a productive offense and should win some games.


Key Losses: OL/LB Matt Schillington, DL/OL Casey Mahoney, QB/DB Sean Maraz, WR/DB Jeff Poland, DB Roby Owsley, LB Andrew Belew, HC Dallas Hickman


Key Returners: HC Tim Mayfield, RB/DB Chad Corley, K Saul Acosa, WR Beau Grado


Thunderbird- T-bird went 3-7 playing against a tough schedule that included 8 playoff opponents. They got wins over two of them (Prescott and McClintock) but lost most of their games by 20 points or more.


The bad news is that last year's squad was senior dominated. They return some solid players in QB Chris Womack and LB Mike Butzine but will they be able to carry the team above .500? They have some winnable games on their schedule and an upset or two could get them to that mark.


Key Losses: OL Ian Smith, OL Ray Shaffer, WR/K/P Zack Richards, RB Darryn Cancel, DL Fabian Becerra, DE Mack Surrell, DB Ryan Azevedo, DB LaVaughn Rylon


Key Returners: LB Mike Butzine, QB Chris Womack, WR PJ Garcia, LB Jason Leos


Apollo- Apollo was very good last year and Prince was had one of the best seasons in recent history. He takes him game to Nebraska and Coach Threadgill will have to do some creative things to make up for the loss.


The Hawks return a couple of all region players in OL Orlando Lara and DB Jason Barnett but can they win 7 games again this year? It won't be easy as they face a pretty tough schedule.


Key Losses: RB/DB Prince Amukamara, LB Aaron Fierros, WR Richie Pieri, LB Jimmie Lee


Key Returners: OL Orlando Lara, DB Jason Barnett



Coach of the Year- Lou Benitone- Prescott

Offensive Player of the Year- Chad Corley (JR)- RB- Sunnyslope

Defensive Player of the Year- Issac Chavez- DT- Prescott


4A1 Western Sky Region Top 10 Players


1. Issac Chavez- DT- Prescott

2. Chad Corley (JR)- RB/DB- Sunnyslope

3. Robert Robbins- OL/LB- O'Connor

4. TyQuan Wilson- DB- Independence

5. Bruce Eisenhauer- QB- O'Connor

6. Mike Butzine- LB- Thunderbird

7. Chris Womack- QB- Thunderbird

8. Jason Barnett (JR)- DB- Apollo

9. Troy Boehm- OL- Prescott

10. Kyree Perkins- WR- Independence

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