As we continue previewing our nearly 50 East Valley high school football teams both in print and on the internet (varsity.evtrib.com), it’s worth noting the number of instances terms like “rebuilding,” “new era” or “turnaround” are used both in print and by schools’ coaches.
The more obvious, well-chronicled cases are programs who’ve either struggled competitively the past few years (Apache Junction, Dobson, Highland, McClintock, Mesa, Skyline, Tempe, Westwood), have new coaches seeking a change in philosophy (Dobson, Gilbert, Skyline, Westwood) or both.
But every year is a “reclamation” for 97 percent of programs, even those who’ve had on-field success.
Basha has talent, but in addition to graduations, the Bears also lost a few talented kids to transfer, have a new quarterback and significant personnel changes happening on defense.
Desert Ridge received a couple transfers (Basha, Skyline, etc..) but the monsters that were Parker Rasmussen, Joey Counts and Jordan Becerra are gone. The Jaguars will have a new look, albeit with talent, but without guarantees.
Division I’s defending champions, Desert Vista, lost an enormously important senior class, and while optimism remains because of this year’s junior and senior classes, the Thunder will have different looks, and, despite Hamilton, Chaparral or Saguaro, capturing the “karma” in consecutive years is really difficult to do. Even Chaparral’s offense only returns one starter (albeit a good one in Jake Roh) from its recent dynasty, and Saguaro shouldn’t fall far (if at all) in Division III, but no longer having D.J. Foster is pretty substantial.
Mountain Pointe, Pinnacle and Desert Mountain figure to be improved from last year; emphasis on “figure.”
Corona del Sol went from one win in 2010 to 5-5 in 2011 after Tom Joseph took over, but the Aztecs are really thin in numbers (35). Mountain View’s second year with Chad DeGrenier’s philosophy should yield improvements. Shouldn’t the same hold true with Matt Lewis’ team at McClintock?
Red Mountain remains on the verge of being a deep playoff threat, but it’s been that way for the better part of the past decade. Williams Field and Queen Creek have players and should win more than they lose, but lost some high quality kids the past two years.
Can San Tan Foothills and Poston Butte continue to climb?
It’s not unlike Division I college football or even the NFL. Locally, we figure Chaparral, Hamilton and Saguaro will be winning programs, and even they start from scratch on occasion (see Hamilton 2011). It’s the 90 percent of schools in between who also must re-invent itself, a task that may not be as exhausting as some, but remains none too easy.
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.