4A1 West Valley Region Preview

It looks like a team from northern Arizona may be the early favorite to win this region


This region should be very competitive with no real favorite out of the gates. Peoria is the traditional power but loses several key components. Bradshaw Mountain returns a ton of kids from a team that beat Peoria in the playoffs. Agua Fria has two young runners that will make a name for themselves this year. Kellis was a playoff team last season but has to replace key pieces to their offense. Copper Canyon went 0-10 last season, while both Dysart and Sunrise Mountain have new coaches at the helm.

1. Bradshaw Mountain
2. Peoria
3. Kellis
4. Agua Fria
5. Sunrise Mountain
6. Dysart
7. Copper Canyon


Agua Fria: Coach Kelly Epley is one of the most respected head coaches in the state. His teams are always well coached and his players will always be tough. On offense coach Epley will have to replace three year starting QB Paul Patterson. The good news though is the Owls feature two of the better young backs in the state in Keith Huckaby (JR) and LeAndre Vaughn (JR). Last season as sophomores the two rushed for more than 1400 rushing yards and both could push the 1000 yards mark this season. WR

Defensively the Owls have some players coming back with experience that will be relied upon. Up front Albert Zazueta and Kamryn Dotson should contribute. Linebackers Jesse Knox and Xavier Madrigal are back to provide experience and leadership. Huckaby and Vaughn are also starters in the secondary. Longtime defensive coordinator Tony Cluff returns and brings reliability to the defense and consistency.

Agua Fria teams are always tough, hard nosed and disciplined. Expect this year's team to be no different.

Key Losses: Paul Patterson QB, Cody Dobson LB, Zach Simington OL, Nick Acuna OL, Bobby Castaneda FB

Key Returners: Keith Huckaby RB, LeAndre Vaughn RB, Xavier Madrigal LB, Jesse Knox LB

Bradshaw Mountain: Last season the Bears and Coach Chuck Apap were young but got things rolling in region play. They played their way into the playoffs and upset Peoria on the road in round one. They return several key players in key spots but this year won't be sneaking up on anyone. Junior QB Tyler Audsley had a great sophomore season throwing for over 1,000 yards and rushing for more than 600 yards on the season. Audsley was also a 1st team all region selection in the secondary as well. His favorite target WR James Reyes returns and should be on the better WRs in the state. Up front they have to replace all-state selection Dallas Sandberg but return two great linemen in Brady Cabral and TE Eric Jolly.

On defense the Bears return LB Brian Woodall who led the team in tackles last season. Woodall is undersized but a real force on the field. Jolly doubles as a top DE having earned 1st team last season. Audsley will be counted on again to lead the secondary.

This is a very good football team and should start the season as the favorite, they could also end up being one of the surprise teams in the state this season. If things bounce their way they should contend for the region title and make a legit run in the playoffs.

Key Losses: Dallas Sandberg OL, Michael Eikenberry RB

Key Returners: Tyler Audsley QB/DB (JR), Brady Cabral OL, Eric Jolly DE, Brian Woodall LB, James Reyes WR

Copper Canyon: The Aztecs went 0-10 in coach Mike Segovia's first year as the head coach. However, they were competitive in most games and lost four of those games by less than 6 points. The Aztecs were young last year and should be improved. They will battle issues with depth but their first units are very good. It's going to be very hard for this team to get more than 3 wins this season.

Offensively big things are expected from RB Michael Grubbs. As a sophomore Grubbs rushed for over 500 yards and averaged more than 6 yards a carry. As a junior he should get the ball 200 times this season and produce more yards and big plays. Up front OL Ryan McIe is getting some looks from D2 schools and should be one of the better offensive linemen in the conference. QB Steven Lacunza moves up from the JV team and has talent but still needs fine tuning. WR Kalin Johnson has looked good at times in practice and senior OL Robert Ruelas, Francisco Clamor and Pat Whilhite should also contribute.

On defense, Copper Canyon returns their top tackler in MLB Tyler Rucker. Rucker is a real heavy hitter that can run. He should have big year in the middle of the Aztec defense. The secondary is anchored by junior DB Monzell Childress. Childress has been great in practice and had a very productive summer. Sophomore FS Rayvon Johnson has the looks of a potential playmaker and senior DB Manny Iribe brings toughness. Big contributions are expected from LB Gabe Salazar, LB Bobby Suarez and LB Ralph Mendez as well.

Key Losses: Billy Bushong LB, TiAndre Hunter TE, BJ Griffin RB, Tim Mayomi DB

Key Returners: Michael Grubbs RB, Monzell Childress DB, Tyler Rucker MLB, Ryan McIe OL, Gabe Salazar LB

Dysart: Andrew Garrett enters his first season at the helm of the Demon program. Even though Garrett is new as the head man he has been around the program for some time which should help with consistency. Dysart has improved over the years and should be a solid team again this season. Expect three of four wins this season from the Demons.

Look for the offense to be centered around RBs Terry Smith and Kyndric Hubbard. Both are very quick and explosive runners that should have very solid seasons. If they can get some help up front both of these young men have the ability to run the rock and are a legit threat to take it to the house every time they touch it. Up front they lose all conference selection Ewas David but they return a 1st team selection in Cody Harris. Harris is expected to be a major force for the Demons this year and one of the better linemen in the region.

On defense DE Jordan Miller had a very productive junior year and is expected to the anchor the defensive line for Dysart. Cody Harris will double on the defensive line and will also team up with senior Cesar Garcia. Garcia led the Demons in sacks last season with 7 and is expected to have huge senior campaign. LB Nathan Miller is also being counted on to have as productive a senior season as he did as a junior.

Key Losses: Ewas David OL

Key Returners: Jordan Miller DE, Cody Harris OL, Terry Smith RB

Kellis: Coach Jason Golden and his program were almost a tale of two seasons last year. They started out the gates 5-0 and were making people take them very serious. Many questioned the schedule in the early part of the year but none the less they beat the teams they played and beat them soundly. The second half of the year the Cougars finished 2-3 and were beaten by Sabino in the first round of the playoffs. This team should be able to compete for a playoff spot again this year.

On offense the Cougars have to figure out a way to replace two all region selections in RB Traveon Freeman and QB Chad Snider. Senior QB Adam O'Banion figures to go into the season as the starting QB. If he can learn coach Golden's version of the spread offense he should have a monster senior season. First up to try and replace the production of Freeman is junior RB Marcus Hackney. As a sophomore he was the second leading rusher and should get the bulk of the carries this season. If they can get solid play out of the offensive line this could end up being as explosive of an offense as they had last season.

The real strength of this year's Cougar team just may end up being defense. LB Kyle Stegg is a returning 1st team all conference selection and may be one of the early favorites for region defensive player of the year. Stegg is a smart heady football player that is a force in the middle of the defense. He is flanked in the secondary Anthony Eberhardt. Eberhardt, was a monster as a junior leading to 2nd team all conference selection. Big things are counted from him this season in the secondary and as a team leader. Major contributions are also expected from DL Matt Mireles, DB Marco Pineda and LB Francisco Rangel.

Key Losses: RB Traveon Freeman, QB Chad Snider, WR Erik Sidney, TE Greg Fritz, OL Jesse Meza

Key Returners: LB Kyle Stegg, DB Anthony Eberhardt, RB Marcus Hackney, OL Wes Kolar

Peoria: Has there been a more consistent team in the state of Arizona over the last 30 years than the Peoria Panthers? Every single year you can count on at least 7 or 8 wins a possible region championship and playoff berth. You can always count on the Panthers to have a great RB and be there in the end. Coach Doug Clapp is a legend and one of the real good guys still doing things the right way. At Peoria they don't rebuild they reload and they will feature a real good defense this season.

On the offensive side of the ball Peoria will run the I formation. It's what they have done for 20 years and why change a system that has produced like they have? QB Caleb Gilespie is returning and may possibly the top returning QB in the conference. As a junior Gilespie threw for over 1200 yards and earned 2nd second team honors. He is expected to be a leader on the offense again and may push the 1800 yard mark and is the early favorite for offensive player of the year in the region. RB Lavante Lewis looks to be the next runner to take the rock in that famed I formation. He saw limited carries as a junior but was productive when given the change. TE Jason McAuley transfers over from Willow Canyon and at 6-5 230, is a D1 prospect. If you know anything about Peoria football you know that he will get plenty of chances this season.

As good as the offense potentially can be, the defense has a chance to be better right off the bat. The return of 1st team selection DL Dylan Contreras, is a huge plus. Contreras has a phenomenal junior year with over 70 tackles and 8 sacks on the year. He could easily hit the double digit sack totals this year and joins Kellis LB Kyle Steg as the favorite for region defensive player of the year award. The secondary could also be real special with the return of all region selection Daniel Hattabaugh. Hattabaugh had 5 interceptions last season and brings a physical presence to the secondary. The secondary also features Chris Morales who could push for all conference honors this year as well. Morales had 4 interceptions and is expected to have a big year.

This team is loaded and could end up as the region winner when it's all said and done.

Key Losses: Jose Castanon LB, Aaron Taylor RB, K.J. Bowen WR, Devin Yabo LB

Key Returners: Caleb Gilespie QB, Dylan Contreras DL, Daniel Hattabaugh DB, Lavante Lewis RB, Chris Morales DB

Sunrise Mountain: Head coach Will Babb stepped down after the 2009 season and was replaced by longtime Ironwood assistant James Carter. Coach Carter brings a defensive mentality to this squad and has high expectations from his program from the get go. The Mustangs were much improved this summer and if they get off to a good start could be a sleeper team this season.

On offense they have to replace a great offensive lineman in Preston Brooksby as well as find a replacement at QB. However they return one of the better runners in the league in Josh Castro. As a junior Castro rushed for over 500 yards and is expected to push the 1,000 yard mark as a senior. The WR spot will also be strong for the Mustangs with the return of K.J. Heddings. Heddings should be one of the better WR in the region and carry the aerial attack.

On defense look for the Mustangs to be aggrieve and take chances. Coach Carter really wants to bring pressure every chance he gets.

Key Losses: Mike Murrillo LB, Tyler Brown QB, Preston Brooksby OL

Key Returners: Josh Castro RB, K.J. Heddings WR

Coach of the Year: Chuck Apap – Bradshaw Mountain
Offensive Player of the Year: Tyler Audsley QB – Bradshaw Mountain
Defensive Player of the Year: Kyle Steg LB - Kellis

Top 10 Players

1. Tyler Audsley – QB Bradshaw
2. Kyle Steg – LB Kellis
3. James Reyes – WR Bradshaw
4. Brady Cabral – OL Bradshaw
5. Jason McAuley – TE Peoria
6. Keith Huckaby – RB Agua Fria
7. LeAndre Vaughn – RB Agua Fria
8. Daniel Hattabaugh – DB Peoria
9. Michael Grubbs – RB Copper Canyon
10. Dylan Contreras – DL Peoria

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