This region should be very competitive with no real favorite out of the gates.
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.
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
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 Returners: Tyler Audsley QB/DB (JR), Brady Cabral OL, Eric Jolly DE, Brian Woodall LB, James Reyes WR
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.
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
On the offensive side of the ball
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
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,
Key Returners: Josh Castro RB, K.J. Heddings WR
Coach of the Year: Chuck Apap –
Offensive Player of the Year: Tyler Audsley QB –
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
6. Keith Huckaby – RB
7. LeAndre Vaughn – RB
8. Daniel Hattabaugh – DB Peoria
9. Michael Grubbs – RB
10. Dylan Contreras – DL Peoria