The thermostat may read something north of 100 degrees, but the calendar reads kickoffs.
It begins anew this weekend. The 2011 season will be unveiled with Desert Vista vs. Phoenix Maryvale on Friday night, followed by Show Low vs. Nevada’s Moapa Valley and then Chaparral vs. Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) in a Barry Sollenberger Classic doubleheader Saturday night at University of Phoenix Stadium.
After that, all of Arizona plays next week. So before we spend the better part of three months in the present and future, let’s pause and reflect on the past one final time.
Call it an exercise in hypotheticals of 2010 — an exercise always easier and possibly more fun after the fact. Correct answers and Ouija boards not included.
What if Parker Rasmussen doesn’t get hurt?
What happened? The Desert Ridge junior quarterback transferred in from Highland before the 2010 season, and was having one of his best games of the season against Westwood on Oct. 29 when he was hit in the left knee. He missed three games (including two playoff games), while the Jaguars — already concerned about their over-emphasis on the passing game — moved Jordan Becerra as a de facto option quarterback. The Jaguars rolled behind Becerra and Joey Counts in their adapt-on-the-fly scheme as they ran 230 times for 1,805 yards in the final six games of the season (361 yards per game), four of which were playoff games. The Jaguars reached the 5A Division I championship game and gave Hamilton all it could handle (48 carries for 260 yards) before falling, 21-13.
What could have been? The impetus for change came weeks earlier in a 37-12 loss to Marcos de Niza in which the Jaguars had one hand’s worth of carries for the game. But even if Rasmussen had stayed healthy to throw the ball and the Jaguars adopted a new running style, would Becerra and Counts have become the most unstoppable pair in the East Valley and household names? Would Desert Ridge have beaten Chandler in the first round or worn down Desert Vista in the semifinals? Would they be viewed as the second-best team entering 2011?
What if Chaparral vs. Hamilton existed?
What happened? The top two teams in Arizona for the past couple years bantered about playing one another in the upcoming scheduling block, but they couldn’t work it out. Chaparral didn’t want to play Hamilton in the Firebirds’ first game of the season when the Huskies would have already had one under their belts. Hamilton didn’t want to play Chaparral the week after returning from Ireland in 2012, and the whole thing was a moot point when Desert Vista didn’t want to drop Hamilton from its 2011 schedule.
What could have been? We could have decided (fairly or not) the top team in Arizona, at least for one random season. The debate would rage on regardless, but pride is a big factor here for both schools. It would have been an early, non-division matchup in which both schools would face transition and growing pains with significantly new rosters. Neither school was going to sacrifice its team’s needs or egos simply to accommodate a spirited debate with (literally) only bragging rights at stake, which was confirmed when Chaparral opted to stay in Division II for the next two years.
What if there were no injuries in the playoffs?
What happened? Tucson Canyon del Oro stud running back Ka’Deem Carey played on one leg during a 41-34 loss to Saguaro in the 4A-I state championship game. Higley lost its best player in Kelvin Fisher late in the fourth quarter in a 35-34 loss to eventual champion Phoenix Thunderbird in 4A-II. Brophy was already without a half-dozen starters for significant portions of the season, and was down to a third-string WR-turned-QB come playoff time.
What could have been? It’s not like Carey (25 carries, 172 yards) wasn’t having a terrific afternoon, but it was clear his unmatched agility and cutting skills were lacking. Without the Arkansas-bound Fisher on the field, the Knights lost a 2,000-yard rusher. Fisher was out of the lineup late in the game as the Knights failed to convert a first down and had to punt the ball to the Chiefs, who drove for the winning field goal. Had the Knights beaten Thunderbird a possible future matchup with neighboring Williams Field was at least a possibility.
What if Corona del Sol hired someone other than Zane Zamenski?
What happened? Following a summer of allegations and investigations involving lewd comments around the team and school, Zamenski — hired to replace the retired Gary Venturo — initially retained his job in August but was put on notice. An opening night win in overtime at Desert Mountain looked like the beginning of redemption, but the season quickly went south. More allegations involving injured players practicing without being cleared by medical staff surfaced at the end of a miserable 1-10 season, and shortly thereafter he was fired as football coach.
What could have been? Something better than 2010, which was a mess on the field and in the community. Would the Aztecs have won more games had the school originally hired another candidate such as Matt Lewis, Curt LeBlanc, Tim McBurney, Tim Kelly or Corey Nenabar? Probably. But the biggest difference would have been none of those coaches would have better endeared themselves to the team, school and parents, or allowed themselves anywhere near such controversy. Ultimately, former Mountain View coach Tom Joseph was hired in January to run the show and wipe out anything 2010-related. So far, so good.
What if the Morgans stayed in Chandler?
What happened? Jordan Morgan led Valley Christian to the 2009 state championship, Bill Morgan’s second at the school. By then, however, some parental backlash and internal combustion led to Bill’s resignation as the school’s coach and Jordan withdrawing as a student. Once Jordan left, Carla Morgan couldn’t continue teaching at V.C. and the Morgans went down the road of attempting a hardship appeal in hopes of playing at Chandler. Instead, two weeks before the season started, the family moved to the White Mountains, where Jordan could play at Lakeside Blue Ridge without appeal and Carla found a teaching job.
What could have been? For one, a second consecutive 2A championship. Or, at least, a good chance if the Morgans didn’t feel harassed and cornered into leaving the school. A hardship appeal would have been difficult but not out of the question (though Chandler athletic director Dave Shapiro believed it was possible) had Jordan stayed at Chandler. There were extenuating circumstances involved in the Morgans leaving Valley Christian, but instead it was a key part of Blue Ridge’s runner-up finish in 3A. The dangling question: Would Jordan Morgan’s (a two-time All-State player in 2A) defense at safety and punting ability have put Chandler over the top?
• What if the Fiesta Region were based strictly on geography?
• What if Chandler let QB Brett Hundley keep the ball on the 4th-and-inches play at Desert Ridge’s 3-yard line in the 5A-I playoffs?
• What if Brophy had made two extra points or a last-second field goal against Mountain Pointe in the 5A-I playoffs?
• What if Williams Field didn’t fumble at the 4-yard-line against Phoenix Thunderbird in the 4A-II championship game?
• What if Desert Vista hadn’t dropped a pass from quarterback Hunter Rodriguez with no Desert Ridge defender in the same ZIP code while trailing 21-17 with six minutes left in the 5A-I semifinals?