Williams Field Black Hawks
Division III Section I
Coach: Steve Campbell
Last year’s record: 13-1, lost to Phoeix Thunderbird in 4A-II state title game.
Returning starters offense: 3, including RB Alex Howard, who rushed for 1,406 yards (11.1 per carry) and 26 touchdowns. With basically an untested QB in Garrett Forsgren and a slew of new offensive linemen (not to mention the departure of Jordan Poland) the Black Hawks want to ride Howard early and often to help Forsgren adjust to full-time varsity competition.
Returning starters defense: 3, including DL Zach Weatherford, who’s being counted on to anchor a young defense up front after a junior season of 47 tackles and nine sacks.
Schedule: Aug. 26 at Maricopa; Sept. 2 at Combs; Sept. 9 vs. Campo Verde; Sept. 16 at Canyon del Oro; Sept. 23 vs. Amphitheater; Sept. 30 at Higley; Oct. 6 vs. Apache Junction; Oct. 14 vs. Vista Grande; Oct. 21 at Poston Butte; Oct. 28 vs. Queen Creek
Sept. 16 at Canyon del Oro: The 4A-II state runner-up from Tucson won’t quite be the same team without Ka’Deem Carey running the ball, but Black Hawks coach Steve Campbell still pegs them to be dangerous. It’ll be fun watching CDO linebacker Blake Martinez tangle with WF tailback Alex Howard. This will be the Black Hawks’ first true test of the season.
Sept. 30 at Higley: The big three-mile rivalry, where kids from one school often pass the other en route. This year, we can add the Steve Campbell/Eddy Zubey coaching friendship into the mix, as if it needed more fuel. Higley played Williams Field tough in the first half last season but the Black Hawks have won both meetings in their young history.
Oct. 28 vs. Queen Creek: A curious matchup to conclude the regular season, as both teams are coming off stellar campaigns in 2010 with plenty of questions about whether they can maintain those standards. There’s a chance that Williams Field is undefeated heading into this matchup.
Can they get there again?
In only its second year of varsity competition, Williams Field had the 4A Division II state championship in its grasp. Thunderbird was a feel-good story, while the Black Hawks were piling up yards at twice the clip of the Chiefs. But the yards didn’t translate to points, and Williams Field left Sun Devil Stadium and the 2010 season with a 25-22 loss in overtime, disheartened (to a degree) with the state runner-up trophy.
Thanks to the neighborhood’s growth the past five years, Steve Campbell’s program has enjoyed a rapid rise, but significant roster turnover in 2011 lends itself to an early period of reconstruction.
“I think it’s less of a hangover and now we move forward and enjoy it,” he said.
The Black Hawks seem poised to be contenders again in 2011, but will have a steep feeling-out process in the meantime. The graduations of QB Tom Ross, J.D. Layton and all-purpose RB Kenny Mitchell were difficult enough. The probable departure of big-time offensive lineman Jordan Poland to California is a big, unexpected wrench in a rebuilt offensive line.
Alex Howard, however, is back, and the Black Hawks will try to ride their senior running back along with Joziah Strong in the early part of the schedule to help new QB Garrett Forsgren and his boys up front adjust to a new level of competition.