A Marcos alum strikes Gold

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Corona del Sol Aztecs' basketball standout Alex Barcello had a busy summer playing club basketball. (Kris Cartwright for Wrangler News/More at kriscartwright.smugmug.com)
Corona del Sol Aztecs’ basketball standout Alex Barcello had a busy summer playing club basketball and weighing the many college scholarship offers he received. (Kris Cartwright for Wrangler News/More at kriscartwright.smugmug.com)

BY ALEX ZENER

The Marcos de Niza family of students, alumni, teachers, staff and fans—in addition to a whole lot of people from Tempe and surrounding areas—can be proud of Marcos alum and new Olympian Sam Dorman, who recently won a silver medal with his diving partner, Mike Hixon, in the men’s synchronized 3-meter springboard diving competition during the 2016 Olympic games in Rio.

Dorman and Hixon went  from seventh to second place with a combined 450.21 points or 4.21 points behind the first place team from the United Kingdom.

China, which has dominated this sport for years and may have felt the pressure from United Kingdom and U.S. divers, ended up with the bronze medal after having problems in their last dive.

The 2016 Olympic trials and subsequent Olympic competition may have been the first time he had competed with Hixon but it was not Dorman’s first time to be recognized for his diving prowess.

Dorman, who graduated from Marcos in 2009, won the 5A DII state championship in the 1-meter diving event his last three years in high school after taking second place as a freshman.

After graduation, Dorman attended University of Miami, where he had a very successful college career, especially his last two seasons, after sitting out the 2012-13 season with shoulder surgery.

Earning All-American status in 2014, Dorman won the three-meter diving event and placed second in the one-meter diving competition at the 2015 NCAA Championship where was once again selected as an All-American.

Dorman graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in mechanical engineering. On Aug. 15, both Hixon and Dorman started competing in the preliminary round of the individual 3-meter springboard competition.

 

Tempe High Football — After a 6-5 season in 2015 the Buffaloes are looking to improve their record playing in the newly designated 4A division in the Desert Sky Region with Casa Grande, Higley, Seton Catholic Prep and Marcos de Niza.

With four returning players named by azcentral.com as the top Arizona high school football prospects in the 2017 graduating class on the roster, Tempe has a good chance to improve their record in 2016.

Playing both the offensive running back and defensive back positions, Deandre Hughes, at 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, was the second leading receiver on the team last season with 15 receptions for 283 yards or almost 19 yards per catch and three touchdowns.

Playing defensive back, Hughes had 42 solo tackles and 30 assists for a total of 72 tackles or 6.5 tackles per game. Hughes also intercepted the ball twice in the Buffaloes 2015 game against McClintock returning the ball a total of 175 after the interceptions.

In addition, Hughes had a big role in special teams, where he returned kickoffs and punts leading the team with 445 yards in kickoff returns and 145 in punt returns.

With his ability to play both offensive and defensive positions, plus be a kick returner on special teams, Tempe’s head coach, Brian Walker, thinks Hughes is one of the best athletes he has coached. He can run 40 yards in 4.5 seconds and has a 38-inch vertical leap, according to Walker.

Hughes is reported to be a good student with a 3.8 grade point average making him an attractive prospect for recruiters including South Dakota State, one of the schools who offered him a football scholarship.

Offensive lineman Aureleo Flores, at 6-foot-3 and 270 pounds, should give Tempe a strong presence as the anchor in the Buffaloes offensive line which is hoping to open up more rushing opportunities for Hughes this year.

Flores is starting to get some recognition for his powerful body and lineman skills by college coaches, including an offer from Western New Mexico.

At 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, Ivory Williams, at the safety position, had 50 tackles last season and should be one of the key factors to the Buffaloes’ success this season with his ability to play a strong safety who is not afraid to be aggressive when it comes to stopping opponents.

My-King Johnson has probably been the most highly recruited player from Tempe’s 2017 class, with offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon, Texas A&M, Nevada, UNLV and most recently USC after attending the Trojans’ Rising Stars Camp in July.

Playing defensive end, Johnson led the team in sacks last season with 22 sacks or over two sacks a game, a trend he started in 2014 when he was credited with 13.5 sacks his sophomore year.

Johnson, at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, has turned himself into a pass rush specialist who has the right physical build with the speed and athletic ability to rush the quarterback.

On top of Johnson’s athletic abilities and football skills, he is a good student, with a 3.6 grade-point average giving him the academic qualification recruiters are looking for. Tempe will also be returning on offense Dannell Card who had 22 receptions for 199 years and one touchdown last season, Jaren Savage with seven receptions and one touchdown and Derrieon Wheaton with one rushing touchdown.

On defense the Buffaloes have Damian Triana who had 43 total tackles in 2015, Camari Mitchell who had 39 tackles and Kaiden Chong with 24 tackles. Other players who played significant minutes last season who will be counted on to replace the large number of seniors who graduated will be Isaiah Coburn, David Rivas, Chris Gonzalez and Johnathan Ramirez-Osorio.

The Buffaloes should have an experienced kicker with the return of Jonathan Ibarra, who was responsible for 37 kickoffs where he averaged almost 50 yards a kick.

Other returning players from last season’s team expected to contribute to the Buffaloes overall success this season are Moses Ruiz, Isaac Castro and Jesus Beltran

Tempe’s first game of the season was a non-conference home game against Estrella Aug. 19.

 

New Season, New Coach at Marcos — Marcos de Niza hired legendary coach Paul Moro to take over their football program after Sean Morin resigned.

Moro spent the last two seasons leading Poston Butte’s football program but is recognized more readily for winning 318 games and 13 state championships in 30 years at Blue Ridge High School in Lakeside, Calif.

Moro, who grew up in Scottsdale before moving to California as a teenager, wanted to move back to Arizona for family reasons in 2013, is excited about the winning football tradition already established at Marcos and the talented squad he inherited when taking over the program last spring.

Adding in his Poston Butte victories, Moro is the second winningest football coach in Arizona with 324 wins.

That’s before the Padre football season even starts. He only needs seven wins to catch Vern Friedli, who has the most wins in Arizona history with 331.

The Padres’ goal is to win enough games at the right time to once again play for the chance to bring home the championship trophy to Marcos de Niza.

Unless something unforeseen occurs, expect their new head coach to be at the top of the leader board by the end of November, as well.

 

Corona Basketball — Corona’s basketball team had a good summer program where the Aztecs worked on skill development and chemistry with several new players after five seniors left the program, four of whom played significant minutes, according to head coach Neil MacDonald.

“We played three consecutive weekend tournaments including one at Grand Canyon University, Campo Verde High School and then the annual Primetime Tournament held at Sunnyslope this year,” said MacDonald.

Summers, for the Corona basketball program, is mostly about skill improvement.

“During the summers we are about individual development, not wins and losses,” said MacDonald.

“We took this time as an opportunity to look at a lot of guys. Daily workouts got better and more intense. We saw improvement across the board.”

Now that school has started MacDonald and the players are looking forward to getting back on the court in Nov.

“We were happy with the progress we made overall this summer,” said MacDonald. “We are excited and ready to get back to playing basketball in the fall.”

Someone else who is probably excited to get back to playing basketball is Alex Barcello, who had one busy summer.

In July alone, playing on his club team the Oakland Soldiers, Barcello played in the Peach Jam in George then a week later in the 16-game Nike EYBL games, where he led his team in scoring with almost 19 points a game making 33 of 90 3-pointers and 84 percent of his free throws.

He then attended some high-octane basketball camps to further develop his skills on the court, such as the Nike Elite 60 in Los Angeles, the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Virginia and the SC30 or Steph Curry Select camp in the Bay Area where only the top 20 high school guards are invited.

While he was traveling around the country playing basketball, the scholarship offers kept pouring in with offers from more than 25 programs including Arizona, Virginia, Memphis, Creighton, Colorado State, Washington State, DePaul, Indiana, New Mexico, Grand Canyon, Providence, Oregon, Arizona State, Utah, St. Mary’s, USC, Marquette, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Stanford, UCLA, Butler and Auburn to name a few.

In early August, Barcello narrowed his offers down to his top five choices in alphabetical order:

Arizona, Butler, Indiana, Stanford and Virginia.

He has no timetable for his final decision but his focus in November will no doubt be to help the Aztecs play highly competitive teams, win as many games as possible and once again get the chance to leave it all on the floor and win a state basketball championship his senior year.

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