Higley looks to atone for disappointment - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

Higley looks to atone for disappointment

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Posted: Friday, August 29, 2008 9:38 pm | Updated: 11:55 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

No team in the 4A-II East Sky has enjoyed more success the past two years than Gilbert Higley.

It is 21-6 over that span, and five of those victories have come in the state playoffs.

Don’t think for a second, though, that all that winning has made the Knights complacent. Still in search of their first state championship, they enter this season as hungry as they’ve ever been.

“The past two years we’ve had really good success, and we want that to continue,” senior linebacker Joey Speltz said.

“But last year, to be ranked No. 1 (in the preseason) and to come up that short, it really irritates … us.”

What Speltz was referring to was a 15-14 loss to eventual state champion Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep in the state semifinals. No other team came within 17 points of the Knights in the postseason.

The goal this year is to be Notre Dame’s successor.

To increase his team’s chances of winning four more postseason games, coach Jim Beall is tweaking his M.O. Unlike in the past when Higley’s top three options were run left, run middle, run right, the Knights plan to throw more and will even utilize the spread offense.

“We’re still going to run the football. We’re going to try to be a little more balanced if we can,” Beall said.

Higley isn’t as big as it was last year when its offensive and defensive linemen averaged around 260 pounds, but it is more athletic than it’s ever been, and its biggest asset will be speed.

“I think we have some of the best receivers we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Beall said. “We’ve got some fast receivers and some tall kids. That’s one thing that’s going to help us.”

Beall’s son J.P. will be in charge of delivering the ball to that group, which could be led by Kelvin Fisher, who should be one of the top sophomores in the state. The 5-foot-10, 163-pounder, whose freshman season highlights can be found on YouTube, possesses superior athletic ability and can play almost any skill position on the field.



Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Yr.
Asti Arriaga WR/CB 5'10 135 Sr.
R.J. Arriaga DE/TE 6'3 230 Sr.
Nico Banuelos WR/LB 5'8 170 Sr.
J.P. Beall QC/DB 6'1 160 Sr.
Jorron Brookman OL/DL 6'3 240 So.
Chris Campbell RB/LB 5'10 185 Sr.
Emmanuel Caro Del Castillo RB/DB 5'6 160 Jr.
Paul Castro WR/DB 6'1 180 Sr.
Colter Conway OL/DL 6'0 185 Sr.
Bill Cook OL/DL 6'3 240 Sr.
Jordan Davy OL/DL 5'10 190 Jr.
Mike Dugdale FB/DL 5'11 195 Sr.
Justin Failner FB/LB 5'8 170 Sr.
Kelvin Fisher WR/DB 5'10 163 So.
Kristofer Fitzhugh OL/DL 6'0 180 Sr.
Austin Frost LB 5'8 160 Sr.
Zachary Frye OL/DL 6'2 195 Sr.
Travis Funderburk OL/DL 6'6 225 Sr.
Andy Galindo WR/DB 5'8 140 Sr.
  Devin Green WR/DB 5'10 150 Sr.
Johnathon Hargrave OL/DL 6'2 215 Jr.
Gage Hughes LB 5'11 180 Sr.
David Keipert OL/DL 6'2 200 Sr.
Chuck Lanci OL/DL 5'10 190 Sr.
Luke Magee WR/LB 5'8 190 Jr.
Andrew Maldonado RB/DB 5'8 166 So.
John McGuire OL/DL 5'9 245 Sr.
Tanner McVicker FB/LB 5'11 205 Sr.
  T.J. Omatseye OL/DL 6'1 370 Sr.
Matheus Pasin K 5'6 150 Sr.
A.J. Porras OL/DL 6'3 215 Jr.
Nic Reeder OL/DL 6'1 225 Sr.
Matt Ross WR/DB 6'1 165 Sr.
Blake Schneider OL/DL 6'2 200 Sr.
Damone Scott RB/LB 5'9 180 Jr.
Jace Smith RB/LB 5'8 180 Sr.
Joey Speltz FB/LB 6'0 205 Sr.
Harrison Stone OL/DL 6'1 215 Jr.
Ben Vaivao TE/LB 5'11 190 So.
Zach Welborn OL/DL 5'10 220 Jr.
Aaron Wright TE/DL 6'0 185 Sr.
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[Stats Courtesy of MaxPreps]