Outlook: The transformation continues at Rural Road and Knox Road in Tempe, but it's taken a more circuitous route than even the guy in charge thought.
It's Tom Joseph's third year at Corona del Sol, and though the program's numbers and victories haven't gone up, the "why" behind it only holds theories. Some say his more "old-school" approach hasn't endeared itself to the kids. Others say the kids are being pushed a bit more than was customary (and that's not viewed as a bad thing). Others say it's a combination of the two. Still others believe Corona should move down from Division I to Division II.
Joseph's holding out optimism, even with a 4-6 mark in 2012 and few players with significant varsity experience returning.
"I think I've changed my approach (since being hired) without changing my style," he said. "We try to focus on getting a little better each day and do what we can to control things that go beyond wins and losses. I had lost sight of some of that stuff (when fired by Mountain View in 2010)."
Tevin Mayfield is one, the athletic wide receiver/defensive back caught 20 passes for 260 yards and 2 TD last year. Kids such as Dominic Pierce, Mike Clare, Cassius Peat and Thomas Turley in the trenches. R.J. Rhiner saw some time at quarterback in 2012 and is the expected starter in 2013. Jake Ridell had 126 tackles next to Clare at linebacker in 2012.
Potentially gloomy section games against Brophy, Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista await, but the rest of the schedule is at least manageable.
But there's a long haul left, whether it's changing attitudes, work ethic, personality or simply getting kids to play football again.
Division I, Section IV
Coach: Tom Joseph
Last year's record: 4-6, did not qualify for Division I playoffs
Returning starters: 3 on offense/ 3 on defense
Top returners: WR/DB Tevin Mayfield (20 rec., 260 yards, 2 TD); QB R.J. Rhiner (22 of 48 passing, 240 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT); LB Jake Riedell (126 tackles, four sacks); OL/DL Dominic Pierce; OL/LB Mike Clare; DL Thomas Turley (48 tackles, two sacks); OL/DL Cassius Peat (43 tackles, three sacks)
Aug. 30 at Buena; Sept. 6 vs. Horizon; Sept. 12 (Thur.) at Skyline; Sept. 20 vs. Boulder Creek; Sept. 27 at Mesquite; Oct. 4 at Brophy; Oct. 11 vs. Dobson; Oct. 18 at Mountain Pointe; Oct. 25 vs. Desert Vista; Nov. 1 vs. Notre Dame
Sept. 6 vs. Horizon: This figures to be the most difficult of the first month's schedule for Corona, and a great, all-important measurement of progress between Week 1 and Week 2. Horizon, took, is in a bit of transition like the Aztecs, though not quite to the same degree.
Sept. 27 at Mesquite: Longtime foes during the Mountain View (Joseph) and Red Mountain (Jim Jones) eras, Brown Road was once hopping because of those matchups. Corona will have to find some offense against a good defense, namely the secondary of Mesquite.
Oct. 25 at Desert Vista: This game could be the decider as to whether the Aztecs will sneak into the playoffs or not, and at the end of the rough October stretch to boot.
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.