The County Line
Welcome to The County Line, my weekly blog on news and notes surrounding the athletic programs we cover at CountyLinePreps.com, and perhaps others I witnessed during my coverage. I’m very grateful that Brad Cesmat and the Sports360AZ staff – Eric Sorenson, Jordan Hamm and Haley Stesiak – have invited me to post the column on their site on Wednesday each week.
Here we go…
Poston Butte’s Trust Issue – Many of the Broncos’ football players had trust issues within the program until the hiring of new head coach Dain Thompson earlier this summer. I can’t say I blame them, considering Thompson, who came to the school with Paul Moro, is their third head coach in four years.
He replaces Cody Collett, who resigned following only one season and returned to where he came from – Prescott High School – as an assistant coach. Collett replaced Moro, whose hire was much-ballyhooed in 2014.
The current Marcos de Niza head coach left without fulfilling many of the visions he promised when he was hired at Poston Butte, which was the same year the current seniors entered the school as freshmen.
“We’re going to change the entire culture of athletics at Poston Butte,” Moro told me during a 2014 interview. “People have no idea what’s about to happen.”
I agree, they didn’t.
Collett’s tenure at the school almost ended before it even started. He allegedly tried to get out of his contract last summer, just after spring practice concluded.
Did Collett really want to be at the school?
Can’t blame any players who may have asked themselves the same question.
During my visit to Poston Butte last week, two-way senior starting lineman Oscar Miranda talked about the issue.
“I think (Coach Thompson) is the one coach we can trust the most,” he told me. “We’ve gone through different coaches and different (systems) that we’ve put our trust in, and now I know (Coach Thompson) is going to get us over the top.”
Said Thompson, “These are my guys. I’ve been here the whole time, so it’s not like (I’m) a new face. There absolutely is trust and we’re going to work as hard as we can.”
The Broncos open their season this Friday versus Goldwater (1–0).
The First Family of QB’s in Pinal County – San Tan Foothills’ sophomore starting quarterback Zach Herrera, one of the players on my 2017 Bucket List, threw for two touchdowns in the Sabercats’ 42–12 win last Friday.
The six-foot-2, 150-pound signal caller is the youngest of three brothers in the Herrera family to play quarterback in high school. He replaced one of his two older brothers as the starting signal-caller for the Cats.
Class of 2017 graduate Danny Herrera, the 2016 2A Metro East Region Offensive Player of the Year, recently started practice at the University of Dubuque.
— County Line Preps (@CountyLinePreps) August 15, 2017
— Spartan Football (@DubuqueFootball) August 14, 2017
The oldest Herrera brother – Bobby – also attends the University of Dubuque, where he is a quarterback on the Spartans’ roster. Bobby graduated from Florence High School in 2015.
FHS Alumni Bobby Herrera playing football at Dubuque University. Good Luck Bobby on your football season! pic.twitter.com/8723im5Das
— FHSGophers (@FHSGOPHERS) August 19, 2017
“Both of my brothers were really successful in high school,” Zach Herrera recently told CountyLinePreps.com. “Whatever they tell me about life, I truly do take most advantage. My game has really improved in every sport because of my brothers.”
Would he follow Bobby and Danny to the U of Dubuque if provided the opportunity?
“Yes, I would love to,” Zach responded. “They have great facilities.”
Combs Culture Change, Part II? – Following three consecutive playoff appearances, the Combs football team went just 2 – 8 last season and the man who led the original culture change – Jesse Hart – four years earlier resigned, accepting the defensive coordinator position at Mesa Westwood.
The Coyotes’ turned to Travis Miller, who served as the offensive coordinator during their rise to relevance. He was not part of the staff last season but returns as head coach in 2017.
“It helped knowing all the players, knowing who I had,” Miller answered when asked how much his previous stint with the Coyotes helps during the coaching transition. “It also helped that the players knew me and it helped in getting players into our program.
“We have (our) biggest numbers right now and what that tells me is the future is bright.”
The Coyotes open their season this Friday at Casa Grande (0-1).
More Dog Fights? – Queen Creek visits perennial 6A powerhouse Hamilton on Friday, marking the third-straight season the teams have played a freedom game. A few years ago, Bulldogs head coach Travis Schureman inquired about the possibility of playing the Huskies to then-head coach Steve Belles, who was agreeable.
Hamilton has had the better of the matchup, winning the two previous games rather handily. The closest game came in 2015, when Queen Creek held a 7–3 first-quarter lead and trailed by only three at halftime, 10–7. Second-half turnovers proved too costly in the 31 – 14 defeat.
Friday may not be the last matchup between teams, especially if, as I’m hearing is anticipated, the Bulldogs move to 6A during conference reclassification next spring.
Considering the Queen Creek campus is a 15-mile drive east down Ocotillo Road, it’s not a stretch to speculate the two teams in the same region. Not too far north or south off Ocotillo are Basha and Perry, two more teams that make geographical sense in a 6A region that could include Queen Creek and Hamilton.
At least part of Schureman’s motivation for scheduling the Huskies was to measure his team up against one of the best teams in state. The Queen Creek Way, a credo in which the Bulldogs’ players are expected to follow and have faith in, includes competing for and winning championships.
To be the best, you have to beat the best.
Friday’s game is a litmus test for the Bulldogs, not only for this season, but perhaps for the immediate seasons that follow.
The Little Caesars Player of the Week – Keep an eye out for the announcement on our Twitter account, @CountyLinePreps, on Thursday night. Here’s a hint: An observer at the winner’s game last Friday claimed he was the best player on the field.
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