Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles leading up to the beginning of the high-school football season on Aug. 22. Today, we look at Valley quarterbacks making an impact in 2014.
The Arizona high-school football record book is getting rewritten by another wave of quarterbacks every year, it seems.
Last year, it was Luke Rubenzer at Scottsdale Saguaro and Dalton Sneed at Phoenix Horizon, Gabe Losada at Phoenix St. Mary’sand Anthony Hernandez at Goodyear Desert Edge tearing it up.
Sneed and Lasada return from that special quarterback quartet to see what they have left for an encore.
It starts in late August when the season opens.
Sneed comes in without the pressure of not knowing what his college will be. He got his commitment out of the way, pledging to UNLV.
“I think the big thing that sets him apart from a lot of other young quarterbacks is his competitive nature and intangibles,” said Horizon coach Kris Heavner, a former University of Arizona quarterback, who opened up Horizon’s playbook in his first year as head coach last season.
Sneed was among 10 quarterbacks in the state last season who threw for more than 3,000 yards. He passed for 3,740 yards and 44 touchdowns and gave up eight interceptions. He completed 71 percent of his passes, leading the Huskies to the Division I playoffs.
“I have seen a lot of talented QBs that never see the field or never pan out, but Dalton’s ability to be a leader on and off the field, his drive to always be the best is what will carry him over to the next level,” Heavner said. “He is always wanting more and has one of the best work ethics I have seen at any level. It is in every phase of his life that he is like this, in the classroom, in the weight room, on the practice field.”
This has become a quarterback-rich state.
Sneed is among three senior quarterbacks who have already committed to Division I colleges.
Chandler’s Bryce Perkins has committed to Arizona State. He is arguably the best dual-threat quarterback this state has seen since current UCLA star and former Chandler All-Arizona quarterback Brett Hundley.
Phoenix Pinnacle’s Brian Lewerke, who outdueled Sneed in a game for the ages last season when the quarterbacks combined for 667 passing yards and 10 touchdowns, has committed to Michigan State.
Chandler has become a quarterback factory, producing not only Hundley, but Darell Garretson, who came in because of injuries as a true freshman last season and led Utah State to a bowl victory.
“I think we have flexibility with our offense and good receivers, too,” Chandler coach Shaun Aguano said.
Rick Garretson, the quarterback coach at Chandler and Darell’s father, has been a key.
He works with the quarterbacks not only on the field but in the film room.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Losada, who has an offer from NAIA Arizona Christian University, has been one of the more prolific passers since his sophomore season.
Last year, he threw nine touchdown passes against Phoenix Camelback, only to follow that up with eight more the next week against Phoenix Carl Hayden.
St. Mary’s coach Todd Williamson calls Losada “commander in chief of the football field.”
Peoria Centennial could have two quarterbacks alternating, running the show with Daniel Smith and Isaac Steele. Both did well when they played last season, giving coach Richard Taylor options this season.
Centennial won seven games in a row with Smith as the starter last season. After he got hurt, Steele filled in and showed great ability not only passing but rushing.
With the game changing so much in spread offenses, a lot more is being put on the quarterback.
“It is very difficult to develop timing and chemistry between the quarterback and receiver, but once they get it down, it is a thing of beauty and very hard to stop,” Heavner said.
Top QBs in the Valley
The top four quarterbacks in the Valley, as ranked by azcentral sports’ Richard Obert:
• Bryce Perkins, Chandler, 6-3, 210, Sr.: Dynamic dual threat who improved his passing mechanics since a breakout junior season.
• Brian Lewerke, Pinnacle, 6-3, 200, Sr.: Might have the quickest release in the state, and he can run.
• Dalton Sneed, Horizon, 6-2, 190, Sr.: Slippery and precise, he makes great reads and has ice water in his veins.
• Gabe Losada, St. Mary’s, 5-11, 180, Sr.: Prolific, a great leader on and off the field. Will find receivers in the tightest spots.
High school football preseason preparations: