It won’t be an easy road for Gilbert Mesquite to work its way into the postseason, but new coach Mike Reardon still plans to take that path.
The 2007 Wildcats inherit a coach who left a state championship team at Scottsdale Saguaro (4A Division I) with a very good chance at repeating that success. Despite having a ready-made title contender at his fingertips, Reardon chose to make the move back to Gilbert (he previously coached at Gilbert Highland) where he made his Arizona coaching debut a decade ago.
“The Fiesta Region is a competitive region for sure, the best in the state,” Reardon said. “I think the talent is here for us to get in the mix. I don’t know if it will happen overnight, but we’ll see how fast the coaches and players mesh. That’s got to happen and happen pretty fast.”
Mesquite was 3-7 last season, competing in a region with five other schools that all made the playoffs (state champ Chandler Hamilton, semifinalist Chandler High and Gilbert, Highland and Mesa Desert Ridge). Mesquite has qualified for the playoffs once since opening in 1998.
Reardon has assembled a group of assistants he’s familiar with and has several talented players who have proven themselves. Senior running back Luckas Scott has been a workhorse the last two seasons, but it’s been difficult to win since the running game has been the Wildcats’ forte. Quick and large deficits have tended to neutralize Scott’s effect on games.
“When I came here from Utah the reason I came was the Gilbert district,” Reardon said. “I liked it a lot. I had a situation where my wife and I had to leave after a couple years. I was hoping to get a chance to get back in the district, and this year that opportunity came.”
2006 record: 3-7, no playoffs
Coach: Mike Reardon, 1st year
Returning offensive starters: 5, including running back Luckas Scott, who rushed for 971 yards and seven TDs
Returning defensive starters: 4, including linebacker Charlie Fahina, an all-region choice
Sept. 7 at Westwood: These teams had identical records in 2006 and are trying to rise in their region and conference. If either makes the playoffs, this is one game they must win.
Sept. 28 Basha: It will be the midpoint for Mesquite and a nice game to gauge its progress heading into the rigors of Fiesta Region play.