Golden Arm Without the Ring: Top Arizona Quarterback Prospects Struggle to Win Titles

When the playoffs come around so much pressure and responsibility is placed on the quarterback.

The decision making is vital, keeping the huddle calm and loose is a dance all of its own and advancing to the next rung in the bracket is the only measure of success.

“You need a quarterback that can run your system and knows what the hell he is doing,” Hamilton coach Steve Belles told the Arizona Republic earlier this season.

Easier said than done considering it is arguably the toughest position in all of high school sports.

It takes a real talent.

But does it take being the talent, as in the state’s top-rated quarterback recruit, in order to get the job finished with a state championship?

And if so where does that leave this year’s bumper crop of Pinnacle’s Brian Lewerke and Chandler’s Bryce Perkins as the state quarterfinals play out this week?

To get an idea we cross referenced the recruiting database at 24-7football.com, which does a tremendous job of rating college prospects, with the number of state championship won by teams led by who was considered Arizona’s top recruit dating back to 2002.

We looked at the top recruit each year and included other quarterback prospects that were ranked nationally and/or signed with a FBS program, meaning in situations like last season when there were two top recruits in Desert Mountain’s Kyle Allen and Saguaro’s Luke Rubenzer both were included.

The results showed more often than not the top-rated quarterbacks finished with a scholarship but no ring.

Since 2002 out of the 21 quarterbacks who fell under the guidelines eight finished with at least one state championship in their careers with seven helping their teams to a title in their senior year.

Hamilton’s Travis Dixon, Cactus’ Jon Tobin, Notre Dame Prep’s Sean Renfree, Centennial’s Scott Burgett, Brophy’s Bryan Berens, Chaparral’s Connor Brewer and Rubenzer won championships in their senior year, while Chaparral’s Darren Moguey won a title as a junior.

The big year was 2008 when Renfree, Burgett and Berens all walked off the field as champions.

There won’t be a repeat this year as Lewerke, who is headed to Michigan State, and Perkins, who is committed to Arizona State, play in Division I and will meet in the state semifinals should both teams advance this week.

“We put a lot on his shoulders, but it has never been too much with him,” Pinnacle coach Dana Zupke said of Lewerke. “Brian just keeps getting better.”

Mountain Pointe has already faced – and defeated – Perkins and the Wolves. This week the Pride takes on Lewerke and the Pioneers.

“We’ve seen this guy from Chandler and now this guy,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “(Lewerke) is probably the best quarterback we’ve seen. He throws the ball as good as anyone we have seen. He is absolutely great.

“He throws the deep ball and the intermediate routes better than anyone I’ve seen in a long time. What makes him really special is his ability to escape pressure and run. I don’t think he can be stopped. Just hoping to slow him down.

“If we are going to get back to the state championship we are probably going to have to be two very good quarterbacks and that ain’t easy.”

 

List of top-rated QBs in Arizona since 2002:

2002 Kellen Bradley (Saguaro, ASU)

2003 no one

2004 Darren Moguey (Chaparral, San Diego St.),  Max Hall (Mesa Mt View, ASU), Tyler Graunke (Salpointe, Hawaii)

2005 Pete Hargis (Desert Vista, Army), Travis Dixon (Hamilton, UNLV)

2006 Jon Tobin (Cactus, Idaho)

2007 Kyle Newhall-Caballero (Gilbert, Brown), Max Fritz (Salpointe, UNLV), Brad Gruner (Hamilton, New Mexico)

2008 Sean Renfree (ND, Duke), Scott Burgett (Centennial, E. Washington), Bryan Berens (Brophy, none)

2009 Kevin Yost (Mtn Ridge, Idaho St.)

2010 Kevin Spain (Paradise Valley, Hawaii)

2011 Brett Hundley (Chandler, UCLA)

2012 Connor Brewer (Chaparral, Texas)

2013 Tyler Bruggman (Brophy, Washington St.), Ryan Finley (Paradise Valley, Boise St)

2014 Kyle Allen (Desert Mountain, Texas A&M), Luke Rubenzer (Saguaro, Cal)

2015 Brian Lewerke (Pinnacle, MSU), Bryce Perkins (Chandler, ASU)