Outlook: By the standards set at Skyline in past years, 2012 was a successful one for the team’s football program. The Coyotes finished 5-5, including victories over Dobson and Mesa for the first time in school history. The team missed the state tournament, but the baby steps forward were an improvement on previous seasons.
However, coach Angelo Paffumi isn’t interested in small successes or moral victories. He doesn’t want a .500 season to be deemed a good year, and he’s still working on changing the culture at the school in his second year in charge.
“We want the kids to buy in quicker and they haven’t,” he said. “A lot of the kids just show up and they want to play football. They don’t want to put the time and effort in. It’s getting better because the nucleus has bought in. They lift at 6 a.m. and stay long hours at practice. But they aren’t surrounded by strong numbers, and that makes for a lack of competition and a lack of depth.”
Skyline isn’t where Paffumi wants it to be ultimately be, but the program will look to keep making positive progress in 2013. It returns six starters on offense, including quarterback Michael Amado and running back Francisco Ativia.
Amado will begin his third year as the starting signal-caller and has made good progress.
“When he was a sophomore he was thrown to the wolves because they had to,” Paffumi said. “He’s a kid that’s maybe not ideally suited for quarterback, but he’s a tough kid. If we had more options he might be our middle linebacker. But he’s got a stong arm and he’s our best option at quarterback for sure.”
The offensive line has some key pieces back, including Manny Ramirez, Josh O’Brien and Aaron Nutt. Paffumi called plays a season ago but has brought on former Westwood coach Greg Mendez to be his offensive coordinator.
The defense will be led by middle linebacker Sal Martinez, defensive end Jonah Desoto and cornerback Nate Woods. The first part of the schedule is manageable, though it gets downright scary toward the end of the year.
Despite Skyline’s lean seasons recently, Paffumi has high expectations in mind and will keep working until his program reaches them.
“We aren’t going to be happy with 5-5,” he said. “We want to make the playoffs and make some noise. We want to start making a splash. Last year we beat the bad teams. We were good enough to beat the Mesas and the Dobsons who they had never beaten in 13 years. Now the next step is to play with and beat the Mountain Views and Red Mountains. We need them to shoot a little higher.”
Division I, Section III
Coach: Angelo Paffumi
Last year’s record: 5-5, missed Division I postseason
Returning Starters: 6 on offense/4 on defense
Top returners: QB Michael Amado; Francisco Ativia; OL Manny Ramirez; LB Sal Martinez; DE Jonah Desoto; CB Nate Woods.
Aug. 30 vs. St. Mary's; Sept. 6 vs. Cibola; Sept. 12 vs. Corona del Sol; Sept. 20 at Gilbert; Sept. 27 vs. Maryvale; Oct. 4 at Mountain View; Oct. 11 at Desert Ridge; Oct. 18 vs. Desert Mountain; Oct. 25 at Mesa; Nov. 1 vs. Red Mountain
Aug. 30 vs. St. Mary’s: The season opener should be telling. Both programs have struggled in the past few years, and it’s a game both sides believe they can win. Skyline has some experienced players returning, and a good showing would do wonders as the program looks to take another step forward in 2013.
Sept. 20 at Gilbert: Both of these teams are battling for traction in Division I. Skyline lost last year’s matchup by nine points and is aiming for payback. The Coyotes have four games on their schedule which will be almost sure losses. They need to play extremely well in the other six to have a shot at the postseason, and this is one of them.
Oct. 25 at Mesa: The second half of the schedule is treacherous, and this is likely the only winnable game among the five. The Coyotes have to win toss-up games like this one in order to have a shot at finishing .500 again.