Corona del Sol Aztecs
Coach: Zane Zamenski
Last year’s record: 4-6, missed playoffs
Returning starters offense: 4, including running back Dominic Mercurio, who played sparingly late in the season after being called up from JV, but the Aztecs like this track athlete’s speed and agility. Expect the offense to go through him frequently.
Returning starters defense: 4, including Todd Peat, a two-way starter along the offensive and defensive lines. One of the top-ranked high school players in the state, Peat is coming off an injury-marred junior year.
Aug. 27 at Desert Mountain; Sept. 3 at Red Mountain; Sept. 10 at Desert Ridge; Sept. 16 vs. North Canyon; Sept. 24 at Mesquite; Oct. 1 vs. Mountain View; Oct. 8 at Gilbert; Oct. 15 vs. Desert Vista; Oct. 22 vs. Basha; Oct. 29 at Dobson; Nov. 5 vs. Highland.
Sept. 10 at Desert Ridge: A defensive nightmare for most teams because of D-Ridge’s wide open offense, can the Aztecs play enough ‘D’ in this cross-region contest?
Oct. 22 vs. Basha: These longtime Central Region foes have gone toe-to-toe for years, and it concludes an important stretch of games with Mountain View, Gilbert and Desert Vista. Win this one, and the Aztecs would have a good chance to win out.
The Zane Zamenski era — which began because longtime coach Gary Venturo retired — started out as a disaster with investigations of inappropriate language and comments made to his team and others around campus, but the Tempe Union High School District chose to keep its newest coach.
Fair or not, the Aztecs are moving on, but despite losing much of the roster to graduation, the Aztecs believe last year’s season was a bit of a fluke.
The Peat brothers (Todd and Andrus) are big, talented and healthy, and along with C.J. Anderson will be the strength of this team up front on both sides of the ball.
The Aztecs have high hopes for RB Dominic Mercurio behind those big boys, while Kyle Busk and Evan Kinney will both see time at QB. Nick Woods and Tre Chambers lead the secondary, but the Aztecs are very young in experience, so growing up quickly is a requisite.
Anything close to a repeat of last year’s injuries would be even more crippling this time around.