We’ve hit the “dead” zone.
Outside summer basketball recruiting time, it’s the eye of the pre-football hurricane, with most schools done with summer passing leagues and tournaments until fall camps start oozing out beginning at the end of July.
That said, a few schools have already piqued my interest for one reason or another for not only camps upcoming, but obviously the start of the season.
Don’t worry, plenty more schools will surface in the coming weeks:
• New coaches: This is an annual thing. What kind of changes (radical or minute) will we see from a changing of the guard at places such as Gilbert (Tim Rutt), Mesquite (Jim Jones), Horizon (Kris Heavnor) and Valley Christian (Jeff Rutledge)? What about places such as Apache Junction and Arcadia, which appear to have better cemented their coaching staffs after a year or so of unknowns?
• Basha: Zach Werlinger will be one of the best quarterbacks in the state and the Bears will put up points — they always do. The interesting part, of course, is how Coolidge-transfer JT Gray (if he’s declared eligible in August) will affect the offense and defense. The latter of which might be more important.
• Chandler: A supreme athlete in Bryce Perkins will take the reins from the successful Darell Garretson, but coach Shaun Aguano also has a new defensive coordinator. The Wolves have gone this route before and nothing drastically for the better has come of it. The Wolves believe 2013 will dictate otherwise on that side of the ball. We’ll find out.
• Hamilton: Sam Sasso figures to be first in line as the team’s new starting quarterback and the Huskies should have a better time offensively than the beginning of last season. Ah, who are we kidding? This could be the best defense ever at Hamilton. That would be saying something.
• Mesquite: New coach (OK, not exactly “new) Jim Jones have some talent to work with here, especially defensively. The Wildcats also begin a new scheduling block as a Division II after moving down from Division I. Former coach Matt Gracey was pretty geeked about this year’s prospects before he stepped down.
• Saguaro: A couple outstanding athletes in Christian Kirk and Luke Rubenzer ... OK more than a couple great athletes. The Sabercats have size and lots of additional skill and speed. This year's group begins with a little chip on the collective shoulder after an early (by Saguaro standards) playoff exit in 2012.
• Tempe: Darlings with a hot start to 2012 then became a source of some controversy after leaving the field fearing for their safety during a blowout loss to Saguaro. The not-so-tough schedule (based on the new power rankings put into place last summer) and a Week 10 loss to a solid Maricopa team did in the Buffaloes’ chances at postseason. There are a lot of Buffaloes back in tow.
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.