All is right with the world as spring football is upon us. Junior stars are looking to show their 2014 campaigns were just building blocks for 2015, and coaches are sifting through their rosters, hoping they have the some of the Valley’s elite. Here are some players and programs to keep an eye on as we gear up for the 2015 season:
Sophomore Signal Callers
Three sophomores ranked in the top ten in the state for passing yards in 2014: Basha’s Ryan Kelley, Marcos de Niza’s Naz Greer, and Higley’s Mason Crossland. The trio combined for 103 touchdowns and 31 interceptions. Throw in Sunrise Mountain’s Chase Cord, and this sophomore class will deliver plenty of points and receive plenty of offers as they continue their high school careers.
Boulder Creek Building Up
The Jaguars return plenty of talent in 2015. Quarterback Gunther Johnson threw for 28 touchdowns and just six interceptions last year, and was a great rushing option as well for Brandon Willard’s squad. Johnson’s favorite target, Troy Reed, returns as well, coming off a junior season where he scored 14 total touchdowns and had 831 receiving yards. Defensively, two of the top three tacklers will step into senior leader roles in defensive back Blake Labno and defensive end Scott Perry, who also led the team with six sacks in 2014.
Louisville Makes Some Noise
Bobby Petrino is doing his very best to make the Valley “Louisville West”. The Cardinal staff has blanketed the state with double-digit offers, including four each to players at Chandler and Saguaro. The players range from big receivers like Chandler’s N’Keal Harry, to speedy Saguaro cornerback Byron Murphy to junior Chaparral safety Kurt Shughart. The Louisville staff getting a jump on the top players in the state speaks to the reputation Arizona has developed as a hotbed for high-end football.
Westwood had quite the turnaround in 2014, winning more games (nine) than they had won in the three previous seasons combined. A big part of that was the success of running back Ethan Johnson. The state’s top returning rusher will look to better his junior campaign where he ran for nearly 1,900 yards and 25 touchdowns. New head coach Jim Ewan has quite the weapon in the backfield to hit the ground running (pun definitely intended) in 2015.