While some got started last week, the rest of the high school teams in the state of Arizona took the field for Week 1 of the 2014 season. The following are various notes on players, angles and or story lines I find interesting from the week pertaining to high school football in Arizona.
Sunrise Mountain: Was very impressed with the Mustangs watching them in person on friday night. They came out very flat but turned it around and turned a 21 point deficit into a 10 point lead before ultimately knocking off Ironwood 38-30. The Mustangs pride themselves on their team play and it shows, but that won’t detour me from learning of some very impressive individuals on the team. One in particular who caught my eye for the first time is one of the team captains, Garrett Weissinger.
The senior is contributes and gets involved in any way he possibly can. He plays receiver, running back, outside linebacker and will also step in and play quarterback if needed. That desire to contribute and be involved in a multitude of ways is seen in Weissinger off the field as well as he is also Sunrise Mountain’s Student Body President. He is a very impressive young man. His quarterback, Chase Cord, is extremely impressive as well.
Ironwood: The Eagles played a fantastic game against a very impressive Sunrise Mountain team on Friday night that looked like had half the amount of players on their sidelines than the Mustangs did. They have a lot of flat out football players and guys that work hard. A player at the forefront that fits those attributes is their new starting quarterback Andrew Espinosa.
Espinosa has quite the story. He was previously at Joy Christian High School but was able to transfer to his neighborhood school, Ironwood, this summer with an AIA hardship because of the health of his father. Espinosa is a very good athlete as their starting quarterback and is also a standout baseball player. Over the summer, he participate in ASU’s prospect camp and I am told he really caught the eye of the coaches in attendance. Standing on the Ironwood sidelines, I couldn’t help but notice his leadership as well.
Ironwood also has who might be the biggest player on an roster in the state of Arizona. 6-7, 355 pound Garrett Jones is a starting defensive tackle for the Eagles and get this, he wears a size 19 shoe! His feet are so big, that they could’t find him cleats for the start of this season. The Ironwood program reached out to the Arizona Cardinals and sure enough, they were able to provide a pair of size 19 Nike’s for the big fella!
Saguaro: The Sabercats made a big time statement to start their 2014 season as they crushed their rival, the Chaparral Firebirds. It was the first time they have defeated them since 2008 which means it is the first time both Christian Kirk and Head Coach Jason Mohns have added a win over Chaparral to their already incredible resumes. What else can you say about Kirk that hasn’t already been said. But from seeing and hearing some of the highlights from my college Eric Sorenson, this looks like a man on a mission.
Phoenix Christian: The Cougars are beginning a new era under new Head Coach Stefan Demos and they have one player in particular that by the time all is said and done, could make the process move along much quicker. Junior William JJ Lyons transferred to Phoenix Christian last year moving into the state from Louisiana. He played one year of varsity as a freshman in Louisiana and has been playing on the varsity level ever since.
Now for the Cougars as a junior, he is a team captain and does anything the team and coaching staff asks. He plays wide receiver, defensive back plus handles kick and punt returns. This past summer, he won MVP of NXLevel high school combine in Phoenix as a slot receiver. He is definitely someone to keep an eye out for over the next two seasons. The Cougars’ start to the Demos era got off to a great start with a 34-6 win over Antelope High School on Friday night.
Apache Junction: The much anticipated begin to the Vance Miller era at Apache Junction began on Friday night and boy was a statement made. Having caught up with Miller weeks before the start of the season, I was told about all of the changes in demeanor program-wide and how there has been a buy-in with the players as well as within the community. In their very first game, the Prospectors blew out Glendale 70 to 29. In the process, the team set school records in four categories: Single game points scored (70), team rushing yards (494), total offense (737), and single game rushing record (set by senior Ryley Przybyszewski, 290 rush yards on 25 carries and 2 TDs) which broke a record set back in 1989.
It was the first start for someone I believe is going to be THE breakout quarterback in this state in Adam Abbatacola threw for 243 yards and rushed for 71 tallying four touchdowns (3 pass, 1 rush). Apache Junction takes on Tucson Flowing Wells next week.