Apache Junction Prospectors
Division III, Section III
Coach: Justin MacDonald
Last year’s record: 5-6, lost in the first round of the 4A-I playoffs to Cienega
Returning offensive starters: 3, including WR Jared Kraps, who had 12 catches for 245 yards and five touchdowns last season.
Returning defensive starters: 3, including DL John LaChapelle, who was third on the team last season with 76 tackles.
Schedule: Aug. 26 vs. Campo Verde, Sept. 2 at Perry, Sept. 9 at Shadow Ridge, Sept. 16 vs. Higley, Sept. 23 at Queen Creek, Sept. 30 vs. Tempe, Oct. 6 at Williams Field, Oct. 14 at Blue Ridge, Oct. 21 vs. Combs, Oct. 28 at Poston Butte.
Aug. 26 vs. Campo Verde: The Prospectors only have four players with varsity experience, so while Campo Verde is playing its first varsity game, Apache Junction is nearly in the same boat. The Prospectors are dealing with a coaching change and the switch from a triple-option to a spread offense, so it will be interesting to see how the team adapts to all the changes early on.
Sept. 23 at Queen Creek: These two teams seem to have classic games quite often. Both are rebuilding with young coaches and both are looking to cement themselves as solid programs. The team that wins this game has the leg up in that race.
Oct. 28 at Poston Butte: Apache Junction will likely be battling for playoff positioning as it readies for this game, the regular season finale. The Prospectors have a lot to learn right now, but if the team has ironed out its wrinkles by season’s end, it could be a scary team in the playoffs. This game against Poston Butte should be a good indicator of that.
It was an interesting offseason at Apache Junction. Rich Milligan stepped down from his post as varsity coach to take over the freshman team and sought out Justin MacDonald as his replacement. MacDonald, a former A.J. and Gilbert assistant, is changing the offense from a triple-option attack to the spread. Not surprisingly, when someone asked him which team the Prospectors were playing for Homecoming, MacDonald wasn’t sure. He is busy enough worrying about his own team. “I honestly didn’t know, and it doesn’t matter,” MacDonald said. “We’re focused on our own product.” The Prospectors have three starters returning, and only one more player has varsity experience. It’s definitely a transition year for Apache Junction, but MacDonald believes the team has the talent to make the postseason. Sophomore Brett Darling takes over at quarterback, and with the new offense implemented, he will be throwing it much more than past Apache Junction quarterbacks. Jared Kraps and Tyler McCullen, the little brother of Arizona State safety Shane, could have big seasons at wide receiver.