When the Skyline High School football team takes the field you probably won’t notice TJ Duarte at first glance.
He’s a shade over six-feet tall, maybe about 180 pounds.
But don’t let perception skew reality as you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more efficient prep quarterback anywhere in Arizona.
141.6 quarterback rating.
64% completion rate.
Most importantly zero losses.
He’s one of the leaders of the Coyotes’ pack who sits atop the Division II standings heading into their regular season finale against Mesa High on Friday. Despite this being his first year playing at the varsity level, Duarte has been practicing with them since he was a freshman. Those reps helped mentally prepare him when his opportunity came this summer.
“He’s calm,” head coach Angelo Paffumi said after Duarte’s 11-14, 195-yard performance in last week’s hard-fought 17-7 statement win over Williams Field. “He’s learning and he’s going to get better and better.”
Scary thought for the 9-0 ‘Yotes heading into the playoffs in two weeks.
Skyline’s success may have caught some by surprise but Duarte believes his breakthrough season can be credited to a simple formula which he’s followed since stepping on campus.
“Just preparing,” he explained. “Helping my teammates out and becoming a team leader. In the locker room when everyone’s loud just try to calm them down, get their heads right.”
A perfect recipe for success in 2015.