Campo Verde Coyotes
Division III, Section I
Coach: Max Ragsdale
Last year’s record: 6-5, lost to Sabino in the first round of the Division III playoffs.
Returning offensive starters: 4, including quarterback Luke Pineda, who threw for 919 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions last season.
Returning defensive starters: 10, including defensive lineman Austin Scarlett, who had a team-high 80 tackles and four sacks last year.
Aug. 24 vs. Apache Junction; Aug. 31 at Higley; Sept. 7 vs. Williams Field; Sept. 14 vs. Maricopa; Sept. 21 at Poston Butte; Sept. 28 at Casa Grande; Oct. 5 vs. Tempe; Oct. 12 at Florence; Oct. 19 at Queen Creek; Oct. 26 vs. Vista Grande.
Aug. 31 at Higley: The only team last year to dominate the Campo Verde defense was Higley in a 44-20 victory behind a banner passing day from Eric Kump. The Knights will have a new quarterback this season and the Coyotes hope to shut him down.
Sept. 21 at Poston Butte: These two teams have already developed a rivalry because they battled in the independent league before picking up an AIA schedule last year. The Broncos captured a 10-7 victory a season ago and this year’s matchup could again be close.
Oct. 19 at Queen Creek: The Bulldogs have risen to elite status among the southeast valley schools behind coach Joe Germaine. Campo Verde was shut out in this game last year and will know just how far away they are from competing with the big boys of the area after this one is over.
Campo Verde was one of the stingiest teams in Division III last year, allowing only 20 points per game. With 10 defensive starters returning, coach Max Ragsdale thinks the unit can be the catalyst behind another solid season for the Coyotes.
Campo Verde went 6-5 last year in its first year of a varsity schedule, sneaking into the playoffs but getting beaten handily by Tucson Sabino. The team held opponents to 14 points or fewer six times and have aims to play just as well defensively this year. Defensive lineman Austin Scarlett, defensive backs Marquon Claiborne and Josh McDowell and linebacker Sean Appel lead the way.
“That will be our backbone,” coach Max Ragsdale said.
Luke Pineda returns to lead the offense. He was 68-of-120 for 919 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions a year ago while splitting time with Rand Hawk. Hawk is focusing on wrestling this season so Pineda is expected to the full-time starter.
Campo Verde had several different players carry the ball last year, but Ragsdale would prefer for a feature back to emerge this season, and junior Gabe Ogbonnaya will get the first crack at it.
“We want a guy we can trust to give the ball to 20-25 times a guy,” Ragsdale said.
The biggest question mark is the offensive line, where Campo Verde must replace four starters. The one returner is Dylan Chambal, who is garnering college interest.