We’ve hit the halfway(ish) point of the Arizona high school football season. We’ve seen realignment, big-time recruits, injuries, stars emerge and surprises a plenty. Here are some of my takeaways:
I heard all about Jawhar Jordan coming into this season: the speed, the cuts, the 30 touchdowns last year at the freshman level. Ok, I’ve heard similar hype before. But after the Huskies beat Centennial last week, it was clear Jordan’s fingerprints were all over that win while only touching the ball a few times. The hype was real. There was a draw play where his number was called on 3rd and 14. He picked up 15. I saw him turn a screen play into a 44-yard touchdown, and this play that should have been a five yard loss turn into a six yard gain thanks to moves like this. One can hope Jordan continues to make cuts like this…unless you’re an opposing defense.
The 2014 Chandler Wolves team was about as complete of a team as you could get. This year, quarterback Mason Moran has stepped in nicely for his predecessor Bryce Perkins, who is currently in Tempe at Arizona State. N’Keal Harry has emerged as one of the best receivers in the state, and the defensive line has become a strength of the Wolves defense. Defensive end Hamilcar Rashed transferred in and added to one of the best edge rushes in the state. Throw in senior K.T. Tillini and 6-foot 300-pound sophomore Chris Manoa, and the Wolves are winning the battle up front.
One of my favorite defenses to watch so far this year is Desert Edge. Led by linebacker and human Mack truck Roshaun Johnson, this group hits hard, attacks the ball, and forces a ton of turnovers. They have given up some points but the leaders of this defense are predominantly sophomores and juniors, including the team’s leading tacklers — Treyvon Williams, Vince Delponte, Daniel Pullem, and Eric Marsh (see below). They are only going to cover better, get in the backfield quicker, and hit harder (ouch).
Speaking of defenses that I love, the Chaparral Firebirds defense has a few multi-year starters that have helped the ‘Birds to a 4-1 start in their first year in Division I. UC Davis commit Brandon Jamison is leading the way up front with 10 tackles for loss. Senior safety Kurt Shughart is in on every play and is also the team’s leading rusher. And Brett Voss has been an absolute monster in the secondary as well. Juniors Parker Walton and Jack Moyes are also big-time contributors that will be senior leaders next year. Chaparral’s lone loss came to the defending state champion Chandler Wolves, but kept it close, losing 22-10. Add that six of those 22 points came from a pick-6, and that makes their defensive performance even more impressive. In Chandler’s other games, their offense averaged over 44 points per contest.
It’s been a fun first half(ish) of the season. Now that it’s October, the real fun begins.