Outlook: It's no secret Desert Mountain has two of the best players at their respective positions in the country in quarterback Kyle Allen and wide receiver Mark Andrews.
Two players, however, doesn't make a Division I football team, not even these elite Division I college prospects (Allen committed to Texas A&M and Andrews committed to Oklahoma).
It's the supporting cast (for lack of a better term) that has the Wolves excited about a possible deep playoff run; deeper, perhaps, than the quarterfinals trip Desert Mountain made last year before falling to Mountain Pointe.
The 2012 was the next step in the Wolves' recent renaissance. They were a 5A Division II semifinals team in 2009, 0-10 in 2010 and 4-6 in 2011.
The Wolves - and the rest of Arizona high school football - knows what Allen and Andrews bring. It's whether the Wolves can run the ball and improve defensively that will determine how far they go this fall.
It's also where Wolves coach Tony Tabor doesn't hide his optimism.
Seniors Adam Cooper and Daniel Fedorka combined for 1,300 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns as juniors with shared reps in 2012. How well a deep-but-relatively-young offensive line stays healthy and how quickly it learns to smash mouth opponents (especially with a more difficult schedule this season) will be paramount.
The other side might be equally important. Fedorka was also a big part of the team's defense last year at linebacker and on special teams, along with Greg Frasco (131 tackles, 7 1/2 sacks) and Andy Menth.
Gary McKay could also be a significant addition on offense, defense and special teams after the shifty, speedy back transferred from Chaparral this summer.
This might need be the year of the Wolves to have a big campaign.
It might need to be, because this senior class is easily the best to have come through the school in its relatively brief history, and, despite more young talent coming soon, could be the best to come through for a long time.
Division I, Section III
Coach: Tony Tabor
Last year's record: 9-3, lost to Mountain Pointe in Division I quarterfinals
Returning starters: 6 on offense/ 5 on defense
Top returners: QB Kyle Allen (202 of 280 passing, 3,119 yards, 36 TD, 7 INT); WR Mark Andrews (81 rec., 1,494 yards, 21 TD; 35.6 yards per punt; 40 touchbacks on kickoffs); RB Adam Cooper (134 carries, 720 yards, 14 TD); RB/DB Daniel Fedorka (69 carries, 565 yards, 6 TD; 45 tackles, INT, 7 PD); LB Greg Frasco (133 tackles, 6 TFL, 6 1/2 sacks)
Aug. 30 at Brophy; Sept. 6 vs. Notre Dame; Sept. 12 (Thur.) at Willow Canyon; Sept. 20 vs. Chaparral; Sept. 27 at Horizon; Oct. 4 vs. Red Mountain; Oct. 11 vs. Mountain View (Mesa); Oct. 18 at Skyline; Oct. 25 at Desert Ridge; Nov. 1 vs. Mesa
Aug. 30 at Brophy: So much for easing into a season. Yes, Brophy has a ton of new faces and youth, so it's hard to figure they'll be like Broncos teams of old, but there's talent, and defensively always among the best. The Wolves' offense best be ready.
Sept. 20 vs. Chaparral: No extracurriculars or alternate motives necessary here (not even for the transfer-McKay). The Shea Blvd. battle has been epic a few times in the past few seasons, and this could be one of them. Both teams played to the wire last year (a 28-21 win for DM), and both teams have a lot of kids who'll do this again. Plus it could be a big game for power rankings purposes by season's end for the winner.
Oct. 25 at Desert Ridge: How well can Desert Mountain handle a big offensive line and stop the run? Find out for sure here, because they'll need to come playoff time (see Mountain Pointe playoff game last year).
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.