Outlook: From transition to transition, Scottsdale Christian coach Kevin Allen knows a thing or two about change.
After three years at Valley Christian, Allen resigned at VC, where he'd taken on a couple other sports' assistant coaching duties as well. When former SCA coach Willie Dudley opted to become Horizon's new defensive coordinator under Kris Heavner, Allen took the job at SCA (along with running the special needs/special education curriculum), one of Valley Christian's rivals over the years.
Allen begins anew of sorts at SCA, where a successful but senior-blanketed roster in 2012 has departed, and youth everywhere moves in.
In helping with the process, however, a couple notable names are on Allen's staff for the purposes of teaching and toughening.
Former NFL player Dale Hellestrae will stay on at SCA as a line coach. Hellestrae had a 17-year NFL career after starring at Saguaro HS and then Southern Methodist in college. He'd helped out Dudley the past couple seasons while also doing high school and college TV analyst duties.
The other is Ron Pritchard as defensive coordinator. The former Arizona State linebacker and college Hall-of-Famer played 9 years in the NFL, and assisted with Allen at VC before moving over with the new coach to SCA.
There's plenty of teaching to do.
"Our main concern at this time would be our inexperience," Allen said. "After graduating a big senior class last season we have a lot of younger players that lack experience at the varsity level. This year many will get their opportunity to develop their skills."
Leading rusher in 2012 Zech Gatling is back for his senior season (663 yards, 7 TD in 2012) and Jacob Salmon should also see more carries as a junior. Daniel Schembri saw very little playing time in 2012 but takes over as the team's quarterback under new offensive coordinator Mike Sheahan.
Preston Kalos, Nick Zalkow, Cody Scott and Quynton Stevenson will be integral on defense for the Eagles.
The roster is ripe with newcomers to varsity competition (and football in general), and depth is a chief concern in the trenches. But Allen's staff is well-equipped to do such tutorials as the Eagles begin rebuilding.
Division V, Section IV
Coach: Kevin Allen
Last year's record: 9-2, lost to Yuma Catholic in Division V quarterfinals
Returning starters: 2 on offense / 2 on defense
Top returners: RB/OLB Zech Gatling (85 carries, 663 yards, 7 TD; 27 tackles); OL/DL Preston Kalos; QB/DB Daniel Schembri (3 of 6 passing, 19 yards, TD, INT; 14 carries, 88 yards, TD); WR/K Cole Linderink; WR/DB Kory McCutcheon; OL/DL Nick Zalkow
Aug. 30 at AZ Lutheran Academy; Sept. 6 at NW Christian; Sept. 13 vs. Pusch Ridge; Sept. 20 at Sequoia; Sept. 27 vs. Chandler Prep; Oct. 5 at Scottsdale Prep; Oct. 11 vs. Tempe Prep; Oct. 18 at Paradise Honors; Oct. 25 vs. Veritas Prep; Nov. 1 vs. Valley Christian
Aug. 30 at AZ Lutheran Academy: A quick peek at what lies ahead after this game (NW Christian and Pusch Ridge) shows why SCA could really use a win here. It's a long process with such a youthful squad, but a win (pretty or ugly) would feel awfully good.
Oct. 5 at Scottsda Prep: It could be the start of a nice little rivalry with Scottsdale Prep now in Division V after having a dynamic offense and good success in Div. VI (8-man). Both teams are in transition of sorts but size and proximity lends itself to building something here in the neighborhood.
Nov. 1 vs. Valley Christian: Besides the obvious storyline of Allen and some of his staff going against their former school, this once-fierce rivalry remains, though it's taken on different meanings the past 3-4 years. That's not a bad thing.
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.