Outlook: Many of the new schools in the East Valley have been competitive from Day 1 at the varsity level. Combs has not been one of those programs, but could be set for an improvement based on a new-look schedule in 2013. The Coyotes had a tough go of it last season, especially considering three of its first six foes included Division III champion Queen Creek, Division III semifinalist Williams Field and Division IV champion Seton Catholic.
Combs will not have to play those teams this year, as the schedule gives much more room for error. Only a few starters return on each side of the ball, but one is quarterback Nick Prueher. He threw for 1,644 yards and 10 touchdowns a season ago, although he must cut down on the 20 interceptions.
Defensively, leading tackler Doug Osborne is back after totaling 62 tackles and three sacks in 2012. Two-way player Elijah Throckmorton is another key returning piece, although Combs will have some other holes to fill.
Jesse Hart is the new coach and has been excited with the level of effort put in by the team’s players. He has already started to put his imprint on the program, focusing specifically in a pair of areas.
“Our focus this year has been on improving team speed and putting greater emphasis on the running game,” Hart said.
If the Coyotes can improve in those aspects, the schedule should allow for an uptick in victories in 2013.
Division IV, Section IV
Coach: Jesse Hart
Last year’s record: 1-9, missed the Division IV postseason
Returning Starters: 2 on offense/3 on defense
Top returners: QB Nick Prueher (1,644 yards passing, 10 TD, 20 INT); DB Doug Osborne (62 tackles, 3 sacks); WR/DB Elijah Throckmorton (27 rec., 151 yards), OL Juan Luqin.
Aug. 30 vs. Globe; Sept. 6 at Canyon State; Sept. 13 at Wickenburg; Sept. 20 at Coolidge; Sept. 27 vs. Chino Valley; Oct. 4 at Cortez; Oct. 11 at Florence; Oct. 18 vs. Seton Catholic; Oct. 25 vs. Amphitheater; Nov. 1 vs. Coronado.
Aug. 30 vs. Globe: The schedule this season is much easier, as evidenced by the season opener. Combs wasn’t very good last season but the matchups during many of the weeks didn’t give it much of a chance. This is the first of several winnable games.
Nov. 1 vs. Coronado: If Combs can rack up some early wins, this could actually be an important game. Coronado won last year’s contest but it was competitive.