The high school sports season reaches the midway point but in terms of the calendar year, these are our biggest stories of 2015.
Kurt Warner is Desert Mountain’s new offensive coordinator
April 7: Scottsdale Desert Mountain’s new head football coach won’t be out until June. But the players are excited about the start of spring ball at the end of this month.
That’s because Kurt Warner will run the offense.
Yes, that Kurt Warner, the former NFL Most Valuable Player and the quarterback who led the Cardinals to their only Super Bowl appearance.
Top high school athletes could be left out with new NCAA academic rules beginning with 2016 class
July 18: This is a huge year in more ways than one for the class of 2016. Those athletes will have to meet new NCAA Division I academic standards in order to play. Instead of a 2.0 core grade-point average, they must have a 2.3 GPA. They need to have completed 10 of their 16 core courses before their senior year, with seven of those coming in English, math and science.
Phoenix College, high school basketball community mourns death of Cameron Isreal
June 7: Former Gilbert Mesquite High basketball player Cameron Isreal, who helped Phoenix College win a national championship in 2014, passed away in a car accident. Isreal, who spent his last high school year in Maryland, grew up playing basketball with former Mesa High and Arizona State star point guard Jahii Carson and ex-Mesquite star Isaiah Strong. He graduated from high school in 2010.
Mountain Pointe sprinter Paul Lucas kicked off track team
May 6: Phoenix Mountain Pointe senior Paul Lucas won’t defend his state championship in the 100 meters this week at Mesa Community College.
The Oregon State-bound wide receiver violated a team rule and is no longer on the track team, head coach Tim O’Neil said in a text.
“I can only say it was a team rules rules violation and it occurred a few weeks ago,” O’Neil texted. Lucas won the 100 and 400 dashes his junior season. Editor’s note: As a true freshman at Oregon State, Lucas finished fifth on the team in rushing. He had a 72-yard run against Washington in the second-to-last game of the season.
Poston Butte coach Paul Moro tries to move on after son’s suicide
July 17: Poston Butte football coach Paul Moro cut his San Clemente, Calif., camp short last week when he found out that his son Alex was discovered dead behind their Pinetop home on July 8. Moro, who said his son committed suicide, drove straight from the California camp on July 8, a Wednesday, to be with his family. Alex Moro, 30, who starred at quarterback for his dad at Lakeside Blue Ridge in the early 2000s, took his life after 10 years suffering from a severe nerve disorder, the intensity from which Paul equated to having “a migraine for days on end.”
Sam Duane Jr. resigns as Corona del Sol basketball coach, says he will not join ASU staff
April 13: Sam Duane Jr., less than week after being named the National Coach of the Year by MaxPreps.com, announced Monday that he is resigning as head boys basketball coach at Tempe Corona del Sol, where he was in the midst of a dynasty.
Corona del Sol captured its fourth consecutive Division I championship this year, finishing 33-1 and ranked No. 8 in the nation by MaxPreps.
Corona del Sol went 127-7 during this four-year reign of championships and has won 70 consecutive games against in-state opponents.
Gilbert High School ex-football coach Tim Rutt’s teaching contract terminated
April 1: Despite emotional protests from supporters, the Gilbert Public Schools governing board has voted not to renew the teaching contract of former Gilbert High School football coach Tim Rutt. Rutt, who told board members Tuesday night that being let go is unjust, has been a Gilbert High physical education teacher and the high school’s head coach for nearly two years. Rutt was fired from his coaching job and put on administrative leave from his teaching job last month after a parent complained that he failed to report a hazing incident involving team members.
Hamilton football coach Steve Belles suspended for Thursday night’s showdown against Centennial
Sept. 24: Coach Steve Belles won’t be leading Chandler Hamilton’s third-ranked football team at home Thursday night against second-ranked Peoria Centennial after he was ejected for arguing with a referee during a freshman game. Principal Ken James confirmed that Belles got ejected from the freshman game that Centennial won at Hamilton. “He’s passionate about the whole program, not just the varsity,” James said. “Bylaws are bylaws, and, according to the bylaws, he can’t coach the next game.”
Saguaro OL coach Dustin King saves drowning boy
March 16: Scottsdale Saguaro High assistant football coach Dustin King heard a scream, ran to the pool, and, with about 20 people around him not knowing what to do, he put his CPR skills to work. King worked on a 6-year-old boy’s chest and gave mouth-to-mouth to resuscitate him in the middle of the afternoon on Saturday at his fiancée’s Gilbert apartment complex. King didn’t want to do any television interviews, but agreed to talk about his heroics, although he won’t call himself a hero. “I hate talking about it,” said King, who has been the state championship Sabercats’ offensive line coach the past two seasons. “To do that, I wasn’t hesitant. I don’t think I did anything out of the ordinary. “I was just helping out.”
Corona del Sol leaves no doubt in fourth straight title
March 3: Top-ranked Tempe Corona del Sol left no suspense, dominating from opening tip-off, getting out on the break and giving Phoenix Desert Vista little, if anything, to look at on offense all night. Corona del Sol, putting on a fast-break clinic sparked by defense, captured its Div. I state-record-tying fourth consecutive boys basketball state championship with a 57-32 rout before about 7,000 fans at Gila River Arena.