This article is part of a series leading to the start of the high-school football season Aug. 22. Today, we look at the top players to watch in the Valley.
It’s another stellar season with playmakers across the state, both on offense and defense.
Let’s take a look at some of the best high-school football players who are the most difficult to game-plan against.
• Scottsdale Saguaro senior Christian Kirk is the state’s most coveted prospect because he can do so many things. Not just from the wide receiver position. Coach Jason Mohns will put him in the slot and in the backfield to take advantage of his talents.
Kirk might be the biggest home-run hitter among a lot of good ones in the Valley.
He can turn around and lock it down on defense at cornerback. He also is a threat to return kickoffs and punts for touchdowns.
Kirk has more than 40 football scholarship offers because he has that rare combination of power and speed and instincts.
Kirk becomes even more dangerous this season with two electric wingmen, running back/safety Kam’ron Johnson (transfer from Tempe) and receiver/cornerback Byron Murphy (transfer from Tempe Marcos de Niza).
Now Mohns can keep using Kirk the way he did last season when Saguaro captured the Division III championship. If teams are intent on limiting Kirk’s touches, they’ll have to deal with big-play abilities of Murphy and Johnson.
• Peoria Liberty senior Tyler Wyatt has a future in baseball as a top pitcher. But on the football field, you can find him just about anywhere making big plays. He is a dual threat at quarterback, a safety on defense, and a kicker with a booming leg. Wyatt last year showed the state his potential in a season-opening 42-40 loss at Oro Valley Ironwood Ridge, when he ran for 178 yards and passed for 164.
Every team in the state has to game-plan for Wyatt, because he can turn a game with his arm and legs. Glendale Deer Valley tried to take the run away, so Wyatt completed 21 of 40 passes for 396 yards and three TDs in a 34-31 win.
Win he wasn’t scoring touchdowns or passing for them, Wyatt was threading the goal posts with 12 of 19 field goals, including a 52-yarder.
• Phoenix Sunnyslope senior running back Tim Fryson can run with it and catch it deep coming out of the backfield. It’s not only his speed teams have to worry about, but his instincts. He is one of the best there is at changing speeds, shifting gears and just blowing by the secondary. Sunnyslope ran the regular-season table last season, mainly because of Fryson’s multidimensional talents.
Fryson had 2,093 total yards and 24 touchdowns in nine games last season before an injury caused him to miss two games. He averaged 11.4 yards a carry and finished with 1,448 rushing yards and 18 TDs. He caught 25 passes for 645 yards, a 25.8-yard average.
• Chandler quarterback Bryce Perkins can burn defenses with his legs and arm. He has improved after a breakthrough junior season when he became the first Chandler High quarterback to beat rival Chandler Hamilton. He did it with a late touchdown pass. Perkins has capable wingmen in running back Chase Lucas and receiver N’Keal Harry.
This takes considerable pressure off of Perkins, but he is equipped to make all of the difficult plays.
Azcentral sports’ top 15 high school football players
1. Christian Kirk, Scottsdale Saguaro, WR/ RB/ DB/KR, 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, Senior
2. Tyler Wyatt, Peoria Liberty, QB/DB/K, 5-11, 175, Sr.
3. Bryce Perkins, Chandler, QB, 6-3, 215, Sr.
4. Dedrick Young, Peoria Centennial, RB/LB, 6-1, 210, Sr.
5. Paul Lucas, Phoenix Mountain Pointe, RB, 5-11, 175, Sr.
6. Byron Murphy, Saguaro, DB/WR, 6-1, 170, Jr.
7. Chase Lucas, Chandler, RB, 6-1, 180, Jr.
8. Tim Fryson, Sunnyslope, RB, 5-10, 190, Sr.
9. Keenan Walker, Scottsdale Chaparral, OL, 6-5, 270, Sr.
10. Kayden Lyles, Saguaro, OL, 6-3, 300, So.
11. Brian Lewerke, Phoenix Pinnacle, QB, 6-3, 205, Sr.
12. Cassius Peat, Tempe Corona del Sol, LB/TE, 6-4, 235, Sr.
13. Dalton Sneed, Phoenix Horizon, QB, 6-2, 190, Sr.
14. Kam’ron Johnson, Saguaro, DB/RB/KR, 5-11, 200, Sr.
15. Emanuel Gant, Tempe, QB, 6-3, 225, Sr.
— Ranked by Richard Obert