Division III Football Preview: Wide-open field adds to intrigue - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

Division III Football Preview: Wide-open field adds to intrigue

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Posted: Thursday, August 18, 2011 5:33 pm

Maybe it was because his own house is short on healthy bodies this month. Maybe he hasn’t had time to learn about the rest of his newly-aligned neighbors. Maybe he simply doesn’t care.

Whatever the reason(s), Williams Field coach Steve Campbell decided the rest of this new Division III is as clear-cut as his own team.

Mud.

This new compilation of teams — mostly comprising 4A Division II schools from previous two years — isn’t much different in the clarity scale, which is how Campbell decided inquiries about who’s favored in Division III, and by how much, required a succinct response.

“So is this a futile August exercise?” he was asked.

“Yeah, basically,” he replied.

Saguaro (4A-I defending champion), Phoenix Thunderbird (4A-II defending champion) and Glendale Cactus’ winning ways all roll off the tongue, but those three have either “repeat” questions or significant graduations to overcome (especially Saguaro). Williams Field and Higley have fertile neighborhoods, but the Black Hawks are revamping and are already trying to get a handle on their health. The Knights have a new coach in Eddy Zubey, as does Apache Junction (Justin MacDonald).

Queen Creek nearly did what Williams Field did in 2010, and has as many (or more) questions about its 2011 prospects. Arcadia is a perennially winning program. Paradise Valley is young and thin in depth, but has increased its talent and is full of promise after that youth took its lumps of coal last year. Peoria Liberty has won 20 games the past two seasons.

Nobody truly knows what Campo Verde and Poston Butte will bring in that duo’s first years of varsity competition. Watch out for Tempe High in a year or two.

“Who’s going to be the Thunderbird of this year nobody is talking about?” Zubey said. “That’s what we all want to be.”

Then again, Williams Field’s 2010 run to the 4A-II championship game showed experience can be occasionally overrated. That team had zero starters and three players who saw significant time from 2009 in the lineups.

“Every year it’s the same and then a surprise team shows up nobody thought of,” Campbell said.

All of which was precisely his aforementioned point. Others agreed that there’s only one readily available theory to agree upon when it comes to the next three months of Division III: There’s no chance of agreeing on what’s going to happen.

“It takes some of the watering-down away,” P.V. coach Donnie Yantis said. “You could get into 4A-II playoffs being sub-.500 and now it won’t be like it was before. If you make these playoffs it’s a big thing, I think, and the last couple years it didn’t feel like making it was that big a thing. It’ll be interesting to see how it pans out. I have no clue.”

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