Hurry up and score. That is the theme across the state, as the new order of offense has been well-established in a decade of hurry-up, no-huddles pistols and spreads.
Records are going down for receiving and passing like never before.
So, before we crank it up for another high school football season in Arizona, let’s take a look at 10 of the most riveting offensive machines:
Chandler: The Wolves have the talent to execute coach Shaun Aguano’s high-tempo, no-huddle, shotgun, spread offense with quarterback Bryce Perkins in command. Perkins is hard to bring down with his ability to escape the rush and make plays with his legs. He has running back Chase Lucas to dump the ball off to and watch him go the distance. There are too many playmakers to count, but for big plays down field, watch for big, physical receiver N’Keal Harry to rise above. A big, solid offensive line makes it all work for one of the most dynamic offenses Arizona has seen.
Scottsdale Saguaro: It starts with the quarterback, and, although the Sabercats start over at that position with junior Kare’ Lyles, it’s a good start. The kid can wing it and he’s strong. Lyles steps into a great situation, because he can simply be distributor with Christian Kirk, Kam’ron Johnson, Byron Murphy and Cameron Koutsalas ready to take it the house. With Saguaro’s biggest line since the 2008 team that captured state, the Sabercats can create in a variety of ways with Kirk moving around like an H-back, Murphy and Koutsalas split out wide and Johnson running between the tackles.
Mountain Pointe: This may be a faster offense than last year’s, which is a scary thought. A bigger, more athletic Garvin Alston steps in at quarterback after the graduation of two-year starter Antonio Hinojosa. Paul Lucas and Tyree Shivers are burners on the outside or inside making plays on short passes or deep passes. Lucas will be flanked out, put in slot, or play tailback. This is a loaded backfield not only with Lucas, but with Brandyn Leonard back and the addition of physical back Tyrek Cross, who can run around and through defenders. And if that’s not enough, the offensive line, led by Nick Carman, is even better than last year’s 14-0 championship team.
Phoenix Pinnacle: Quarterback Brian Lewerke had Chandler Hamilton’s defense on its heels in a regular-season game last year. Lewerke returns with more ammunition. Adam Turner, azcentral sports’ top-rated wide receiver, transferred in from Phoenix Thunderbird. He is a big, physical target, complementing speedy slot receiver Cules Rose. Running back Trey Casey returns to football after focusing on golf last year. He is a hard-nosed runner, capable of picking up the run-game slack left by Josh Hoekstra. The offensive line is under-the-radar now, but coach Dana Zupke has tremendous confidence in his front five and, with so many playmakers, this could be as good a Pinnacle team he has had since the school opened.
Phoenix Horizon: With QB Dalton Sneed returning and a very good line, led by Utah-commit Jake Grant, scoring points shouldn’t be a problem. But don’t count on them scoring 557 points again. The Huskies are replacing their top targets and their biggest go-to guy, running back Luke Quinn, who was a major threat running the ball and coming out of the backfield and catching the ball. Sneed has been working hard to get in sync with a bunch of new but talented receivers, who have the ability to pick up where the graduated targets left off. Sneed’s leadership skills should elevate those around him to become once again a potent offense under innovative coach Kris Heavner.
Liberty: Dual-threat QB Tyler Wyatt gave every opposing coach headaches last year. Even if Liberty didn’t win every game, the Lions were in every game, because of Wyatt’s versatility, speed and arm strength. And when Wyatt moves the Lions beyond midfield, he is a threat to connect on field goals. The Lions will miss bruising back Zach Neill, but a new wave of talent steps in to pick up the slack. Alex Hunter and Kory Wilson are big-play receiving threats, and the line looks competent enough to keep the chains moving and the touchdowns coming.
Queen Creek: With Weston Barlow back running the football and a strong line across the board, this team is capable of getting back to the Division III final. Barlow burst onto the scene last year, showing speed and moves on his way to 2,235 yards and 24 touchdowns. Bryce Dobbs returns at quarterback, looking to open up the playbook a little more with a strong, accurate arm. Receiver Xavier McGuire also returns after leading the Bulldogs with 25 catches for 372 yards and three TDs. Head coach Travis Schureman’s expertise is working with the offensive line, so he’ll have those guys up front ready.
Show Low: The Cougars have long been an offensive juggernaut under coach Randy Ricedorff, and this team will be as potent and precise with size up front and speed in the backfield and on the ends. Ricedorff said junior quarterback/receiver Quentin Clark (6-foot-2, 190 pounds) might be the best player in the state in Division IV. Tight end/fullback Willie Wyatt is a beast. Garrett Means is an elusive slot receiver and Jarom Fawcett is a classic H-back, who can move from tight end to fullback. The team’s heart, center Logan Barton, returns to anchor what could be Ricedorff’s best line.
Yuma Catholic: The Shamrocks gave a preview of what to expect this season in their final two 2013 games, hanging 72 points on Thatcher in the Division V semifinals and 63 on Eagar Round Valley in the final. They return quarterback Jagan Cleary (3,567 passing yards, 35 TDs), running back Carter Rodriguez (946 rushing yards, 16 TDs; 989 receiving yards, 11 TDs), receiver Donovan Rooks (20 catches, 558 yards, 6 TDs) and tight end Matt Pistone (an Oregon State commit who is an excellent blocker and caught 27 passes for 374 yards and 8 TDs last season). The dynamic Shamrocks could be putting up Division V record points this season as an encore.
Gilbert Higley: Coach Eddy Zubey, who has opened up his playbook like never before, returns six starters from an offense that averaged 40 points last season. It starts with junior QB Tyler Bloom, who, like his name, has blossomed into one of the more dangerous passing threats in the state. Bloom has two very good targets in Trent Gilbert and Bayley Cook. Running back James Garcia, 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, is a sleeper. He started at middle linebacker last season, but Zubey believes Garcia is capable of rushing for 1,000 yards. While No.1 target Gilbert can make big plays, Cook will be mostly in the slot, dialing it up from anywhere whenever he touches the ball.
Others to watch:
Gilbert Williams Field, Phoenix Arizona Lutheran, Phoenix Northwest Christian, Mesa Desert Ridge, Scottsdale Chaparral, Chandler Hamilton, Chandler Basha, Phoenix Desert Vista, Marana Mountain View, Tucson Sabino, Tucson Sahuaro, Peoria Centennial, Phoenix St. Mary’s, Phoenix Brophy Prep, Tucson Pusch Ridge Christian.