Player’s-eye view: ‘The best versus the best’
Andrus Peat has been invited to play in the fifth annual Under Armour All-American Bowl Jan. 5 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. Peat will compete with and against some of the best high school football players in the country, mostly four to five star recruits, in the ESPN televised practices and the ultimate bowl game.
Peat, a 6-foot-7, 305-pound tackle, received his invitation and game jersey during a presentation given by the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the Under Armour All-American Game atCoronaHigh Schoolon Oct. 19.
“I feel really blessed to be in this position,” said Peat. “I’m really excited to compete against the best of the best at this bowl game.”
Peat, the ESPNU 150’s No. 3 offensive tackle and No. 16 player overall in the country, is being recruited by several BCS-caliber schools. He doesn’t know which school he will ultimately select but it appears that Arizona will once again lose another top recruit to an out-of-state football program. Andrus’s older brother, Todd, chose Nebraska over Arizona State University and Arizona last year.
“The main schools I am looking at are Stanford, Nebraska, USC, Florida State, Texas and Florida,” said Andrus. “I’m currently scheduling official visits to Stanford and Nebraska but may not make my final decision for some time.
Peat plans on training and working out hard between now and January to be prepared to showcase his abilities against some of the best players in the nation.
Most Aztec fans and players will ultimately view the 2011 season as a successful one even thoughCorona missed getting into the playoffs for the third straight year. This year, however, things couldn’t have gotten much worse than the appalling 1-10 finish last season under the tutelage of one-year head coach Zane Zamenski.
The Aztecs, 5-5 overall, rebounded this season under new head coach Tom Joseph, with what some believe to be less talent than they had last year. The Aztecs improved every game and even won a thriller againstMesquite Oct. 21 with a gutsy call on a fourth and five by Joseph that had football aficionados talking.
All the Aztecs needed to get into the playoffs was to win their last game of the season. Unfortunately, that game was against No. 1 Hamilton. The Huskies, on a quest for a possible fourth consecutive state championship and their 50th consecutive game overall, thrashed the Aztecs 49-0 on Oct. 28 atHamilton.
To be fair, playing against Hamilton is not only a matchup problem for Corona but a numbers issue. Joseph admitted that a number of players quit at the beginning of the season because of his disciplined approach, but Hamilton, with its open enrollment and football championship track record, dresses out 90 players compared to Corona’s 39, which would cause problems for most teams.
With fewer players than any other team except Westwood, which also has 39, the Aztecs need some of their better players, Andrus Peat, Avery Moss, Maceo Brown, Zach Hamm and Matt Seall, to name just a few, to play on both sides of the ball, which undoubtedly affects the outcome.
Coronaalso seemed to have trouble matching up in the secondary, which made the Aztecs vulnerable to deep passes all season when receivers were able to get behind their defensive backs. The Huskies capitalized on this a several times, scoring touchdowns not only the first minute into the game with a 48-yard pass but with another long 36-yard pass with less than a minute left in the second quarter to make the score 42-0.
Hamilton was the last game of their high school careers for 16 Aztec seniors. Corona next year will miss such standout players as Dominic Mercurio who was not only the leading rusher on the team averaging close to 140 yards per game but led the team in touchdowns and scoring with 11 rushing and two passing touchdowns on his stat sheet.
Sorely missed will be the highly recruited Peat, along with another player likely to play football at the college level, Moss, ranked by rivals.com as the No. 12 recruit as a strong-side defensive end. Moss, who led the team in sacks and averaged over six tackles a game and has been offered scholarships to seven or more schools including Nebraska, Arizona State and Arizona.
Senior quarterback Kyle Busk, who averaged around 60 yards passing per game, threw five passes for touchdowns and also caught two passes for touchdown will be graduating as will kicker Zach Von Allworden. Von Allworden, who kicked every extra point, punt and kick-off but one for the Aztecs was also the second leading scorer with 20 points on the stat sheet.
Corona will also lose to graduation two-year varsity starter and defensive back Zach Hamm, who led the team in tackles with over nine a game, along with Josh Reidel, with almost seven tackles a game; Matt Seall and Nicholas Woods, each with almost five per game; Steven Rodriguez, Kyle Niemtschk, Tyler Price, Christian Webb, Mitchell Marois, Jacob Fruth, Dylan Calhoon and Andrew Clare.
On a more positive note, Aztec fans have a lot to look forward to next season with the return of leading receiver Tevin Mayfield. Mayfield, who averaged over 20 yards receiving per game, not only caught a pass for a touchdown in the second quarter of the Aztecs’ win over Mesquite on Oct. 21, but was on the receiving end of the pass that set up an Aztecs game-winning score after facing a fourth and five with five minutes left at their own 35 yard line, behind by 4 points.
Coach Joseph had a choice: punt the ball and allow Mesquite to run out the clock or go for it. The Aztecs went for it.
Busk competed only his second pass of the night, both to Mayfield, for a 36 yard gain and a first down which set up the scoring run by Mercurio to give the Aztecs a 36-33 win.
Mayfield said he was both flattered and scared when he heard the pass play called by Joseph.
“A lot of things were going through my mind when Coach decided to call that play,” said Mayfield. “All I could think about, on the way to the line of scrimmage, was I needed to just catch the ball and make sure it was past the first down marker.”
“All I know is that everyone on the team helped make this play successful,” said Mayfield. “Without the linemen and the running backs blocking to give Kyle time to get me the ball in the corner, I would not have had the chance to catch that ball and make the first down.”
Mesquite will be a good game for Aztec fans to remember next season. The team scored points in all four quarters, rushed for a total of 293 yards, had 95 total tackles and six sacks. Mercurio rushed for 223 yards on 22 attempts; James Contes for 42 yards; Busk for 23 yards; and Brown for 5 yards. Leading tacklers were Moss with 13; Hamm with 12 where 8 were solo tackles; Seall 12 with 7 solos; Reidel, 10 tackles, 7 solos; and Beau Sitton with 10 tackles and 4 solos. Moss had four sacks, including one in the third quarter when he sacked the Wildcats’ quarterback in the end zone for a two-point safety. Seall had two sacks.
Corona’s girls golf team fell short of its goal to qualify as a team for the state tournament under the AIA’s new rigorous requirements at the City Tournament held Oct. 17-20. It was the first time in over 10 years that the Lady Aztecs had not only played in the state tournament but placed in the top six. The team missed qualifying by one point on several different occasions.
Only 13 Division I teams qualified this year, down from 29 the year before.
The Lady Aztecs took second place at City to Desert Vista. Brooke Taylor placed 6th; Halie Carpenter, 7th; Kerry Lorenz, 10th; and Katy Consoer, 12th.
Coronadid have two golfers qualify as individuals for the 2011 Division I Golf Championships held at Aguila Golf Club Oct. 28-29. Taylorshot a personal best of 81 on the second day, helping her finish 29th with a combined score of 170 while Carpenter was 39th with a score of 175.
After losing seniors Taylor, Lorenz and Isabel Ramos to graduation, coach Pat Reed expects to return Carpenter, Consoer, Heather Harry, Heather Hittenberger and Kelly Robb next fall.
“I really liked how the team worked hard and improved over the season,” said Reed. “If everyone that is returning works hard over the off season, we will be in good shape next year.”
Although Corona’s badminton team did not qualify for the state tournament with the new AIA guidelines, the Lady Aztecs had all six varsity players, Alexis Emerson, Rachel Gur Arie, Hayley Jackson, Crystal Li, Kenna Lum, and Emma Reeve, not only qualify and play in the Division I state tournament held Oct. 21-22 but all six made it past the third round according to coach Katie Chance.
The Lady Aztecs had four seniors on the team they will need to replace in next year’s lineup: Gur Arie, Emerson, Reeve and Jackson.
“Rachel Gur Arie did a great job as our number one this season, competing against some of the top players in the state. She made it into the fourth round of the state tournament landing her in the top 16 out of 70 girls,” said Chance. “Rachel also finished in the top six at the Chaparral Invitational held Sept. 17.”
“Alexis Emerson had a good year, but was out for two weeks with a shoulder dislocation,” said Chance. “She came back strong and went past the third round of the state tournament with her doubles partner another senior Emma Reeve.”
“Emma worked hard this season and really stepped up as a leader winning some key doubles matches with Alexis,” continued Chance. “Hayley Jackson won some key singles matches for us this season.”
With only two returning players next season, Lum and Li, Corona will need to rely on players from its 8-6 junior varsity team to fill in the spots.
“I’m looking for my juniors, Crystal Li and Kenna Lum to step up as leaders next season,” said Chance. “They did a great job for us playing in the No. 3 and 4 positions, finishing in the top sixe for doubles in the Chaparral Invitational, so I’m look for them to have a great season in the No. 1 and 2 positions next year.
The Lady Aztecs have been on a roller coaster ride lately. They won the Gold Division championship in the prestigious Nike Tournament of Champions held Oct. 20-23, placing ninth overall to end up losing to Hamilton on Oct. 25, which dropped them into 11th place in the power ranking for the state tournament.
The tournament brackets had Corona playing at Hamilton in the first round of the Division I state tournament on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. The Lady Aztecs defeated Hamilton earlier in the season but the Huskies have been on a roll, winning their last 13 matches after returning some key players out due to injury.
Corona’s girls team placed third and the boys team fourth at the AIA Division I Section II Cross Country Championships held Oct. 28 at Freestone Park.
Placing sixth were Hallie Swenson, 17th; Dani Lemieux, 24th; Victoria Haun, 28th; Hannah Lewis, 38th; Mason Kuluris, 55th; Hannah Dinell, 57th. Cyndia Yu in the girls 5k Run for Corona.
Corona boys running in the 5K Run were Nate Rodriguez placing 8th; Jake Whitney, 10th; Cody Jackson, 37th; Alex Frantz, 36th; Ryan Normand, 41st; and Patrick Cullings, 54th.
Both teams were scheduled to run in the AIA State Cross Country Championship Nov. 5 at Cave Creek Golf Course in Phoenix. Boys start at 9 a.m. and girls at 10.