Queen Creek coach Curt LeBlanc has trodden the path to the second round of the playoffs so frequently that his footprints have all but left a permanent mark on that route. Farther down that road, though, his steps can’t be found.
Having taken the Bulldogs to the state quarterfinals each of the last four years, LeBlanc is hoping this is the year he and his players finally get to break new ground.
“We have no excuses,” said LeBlanc, whose program is coming off what he termed a “disappointing” 7-5 campaign. “We have a lot more athletes. We have a lot of speed. We have a lot of commitment.”
Queen Creek also has its entire offensive line back. That experience up front will be vital to keeping the Bulldogs steady and competitive until the rest of the offense, which includes no returning starters, adjusts to playing at the varsity level.
Completing that transition as quickly as possible will be another key since the Bulldogs’ schedule doesn’t allow any time for growing pains. Eight of their 10 opponents, including their first four, were postseason participants last year.
Stepping in at quarterback will be junior Richie Edwards, and he will spend much of his time handing off to myriad running backs.
“Our tailback position, we’re probably going to do a lot by committee because we’ve got a lot of athletes there we want to share the wealth with,” said LeBlanc, who lost his top four rushers from ’06. “They each bring different skills to the table. We’re excited about having more than one athlete who can compete there.”
Conference/Region: 4A-II/East Sky
2006 record: 7-5, lost in state quarterfinals
Coach: Curt LeBlanc, 7th year, 45-21
Returning offensive starters: 5, including senior OT Ian Spencer, a three-year starter for the Bulldogs.
Returning defensive starters: 5, including senior LB Tod Workman who was second on the team last season with 94 tackles.
Sept. 21 at Buckeye: A win on the road against one of the conference’s top teams would officially establish the Bulldogs as a legitimate state contender.
Nov. 2 vs. Higley: Season finale could determine region champion.