VX Football Preview: Scottsdale Christian Eagles - East Valley Tribune: Scottsdale Christian Academy

VX Football Preview: Scottsdale Christian Eagles

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Posted: Thursday, August 9, 2012 10:43 am

Scottsdale Christian Eagles

Division V, Section II

Coach: Willie Dudley

Last year’s record: 7-4, lost to Tempe Prep in the first round of the Division V playoffs.

Returning offensive starters: 8, including running back Chaz Dudley, who ran for a team-high 928 yards and eight touchdowns last year.

Returning defensive starters: 9, including linebacker Matt Thompson, who had a team-high 104 tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery last season.

Schedule

Aug. 24 vs. Camp Verde; Aug. 31 at Fountain Hills; Sept. 7 vs. Northwest Christian; Sept. 14 at Alchesay; Sept. 22 at Tempe Prep; Sept. 28 vs. Bourgade Catholic; Oct. 12 at Phoenix Christian; Oct. 19 vs. Valley Christian; Oct. 26 vs. Cortez

Key games

Sept. 7 vs. Northwest Christian: The Crusaders walloped Scottsdale Christian in last year’s regular season and finished as the Division V state runners-up. Star running back Casey Jahn graduated, as did quarterback Orbi Gonzalez, so the Eagles should have a much better chance this time around.

Sept. 22 at Tempe Prep: Scottsdale Christian nipped Tempe Prep in last year’s regular season, but was beaten by the Knights in the first round of the playoffs, 14-13. This could be another close game and the Eagles are certainly looking for revenge.

Oct. 19 vs. Valley Christian: This has long been one of the more storied small-school rivalries in the state. Scottsdale Christian cruised to last year’s victory, and with so many players returning, the Eagles will be the favorites to take care of business again.

Outlook

Scottsdale Christian had a ton of new faces last year and it showed. The Eagles dropped their first three games of the year by a combined score of 132-24 before rallying to win seven of their final eight.

This year won’t have any of that learning curve. There might not be a team in the East Valley with more returning starters, as Scottsdale Christian brings back eight players on offense and nine on defense to a team that went 7-4 and made the Division V postseason in 2011.

Nearly everyone of consequence on offense is back, including quarterback Luke O’Neill (69-of-138 for 863 yards, 8 TD, 5 INT), running backs Chaz Dudley (93 carries, 828 yards, 8 TD) and Levi Derry (79 carries for 691 yards, 10 TD) and leading wide receiver Sam Fillingame (22 catches for 320 yards, 3 TD).

"Our biggest goal is to reach our potential,” Scottsdale Christian coach Willie Dudley said. “We’ve got a chance to be really good."

The defense has just as many key returners. Linebacker Matt Thompson led the team with 104 tackles and three sacks last season, while Grant Uphaus (56 tackles), Nathaniel Ellingsen (52) and Aidan Dysart (51) are all seniors who contributed heavily a year ago. Defensive back Christian Tyler had a team-best six interceptions in 2011 and will also be a senior.

Scottsdale Christian has the experience needed to close the gap on Camp Verde, Fountain Hills and Northwest Christian, the three schools that demolished them to start 2011. With those teams opening the 2012 slate, it won’t take the Eagles very long to see where they stand.

“Our kids have to be ready to meet that level of competition,” Dudley said.

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