The Basha Bears are starting a new era with new head coach Rich Wellbrock, and a new era with quarterback Collin Collins.
The incoming junior spent much of his sophomore season backing up Ryan Kelley, who many tabbed as the top quarterback in the state and is now with Arizona State.
Kelley found himself on the sideline at times due to injury, and Collins found the field. The dual threat quarterback made the most of the opportunity, earning a win over Desert Mountain in his first start with the Bears.
Collins threw for 548 yards in four games with five touchdowns and two interceptions and rushed for 339 yards and an additional score. He rushed for over 100 yards twice in 2016.
Now, Collins is taking over for the graduated Kelley.
“Being behind Ryan actually helped me a lot,” Collins said. “He taught me a lot of things. He’s a great quarterback, so going in, I applied the things that I learned throughout practices and stuff and it seemed to work out a little bit.”
Wellbrock has a good track record with mobile quarterbacks, most notably Tehran Thomas, who threw for 3,842 yards, 49 touchdowns and seven interceptions and rushing for 4,770 and 73 touchdowns over four years at Desert Edge (not to mention a state championship).
Paired with incoming junior wide receiver Ty Siffermann, and incoming seniors Jett Campbell and Jaylyn Goodman, the offense is ready to take off in 2017 led by Wellbrock and Collins.
“(The transition) is actually really smooth,” Collins said. “(Wellbrock) knows what he’s doing. He is getting things done here and has a nice program growing here, so it will be good.”
The Bears are in the gauntlet that is the Chandler football scene. Their 2017 opponents have a combined 2016 record of 76-45, and Collins will be going head-to-head against some of the state’s top quarterbacks including Pinnacle’s Spencer Rattler, Desert Vista’s Derek Kline, Chandler’s Jacob Conover, Hamilton’s Tyler Shough and Perry’s Brock Purdy.
Wellbrock, Collins and the rest of the Bears are prepping for that challenge.
The Bears open their season against Westview on August 18th.