By Alex Zener
Most local areas high school football players and their coaches will be able to start organized practices for the 2017 fall football season on July 31. Until that authorized start date, most football programs had three weeks of spring ball in late April, set up a weightlifting schedule, put together football clinics and encouraged their players to attend individual skill development clinic or leagues during the off-season.
The culmination of this off-season development is typically the high school football summer camp, usually in the cooler North Country, where teams can further develop their football skills and knowledge, but most importantly get to know each other and bond as a team.
Corona football players will do the same by attending Aztec Football Camp July 17-21 at Snowflake High School.
This camp is open to all sophomores through seniors interested in playing football at Corona.
Leading up to this camp, students could sign up and attend a football clinic held every Saturday in February, play in Corona’s spring seven-on-seven football group for three weeks starting April 24 and participate in passing leagues like the one held at NAU or ASU during June.
Most football players, including incoming freshmen, participated in Corona’s supervised summer weight- lifting program to improve their overall strength and conditioning that was held in the school’s weight room. Athletes can come in for a preassigned workout starting at 5 a.m., convenient for students who work during the summers and of course those who simply want to avoid the peak heat of summer days.
For instance, incoming junior Ricky Pearsall, who played every game last season as a wide-receiver on varsity, works out at Corona’s weight room during the summer.
Pearsall, who had 29 receptions for a total of 390 yards, scored three touchdowns or 18 points to make him the third leading scorer on the team as a sophomore. In addition, Pearsall was one of the team’s kickoff returners.
Working out in the weight room at the same time as Pearsall was fellow junior Collin Gavel, who played on Corona’s JV team last season.
Several sophomores from last season’s freshman team hoping to improve their strength and conditioning for varsity tryouts in late July by hitting the weight room this summer include Cody Stuhmer, who played outside linebacker on the Aztec freshman team last season.
Middle linebacker and receiver on Corona’s 2016 freshman team, Eric Brice can be found at Corona lifting weights as can Alec McQueen and Paul Perea.
Although incoming freshmen cannot attend the Aztec summer camp in Snowflake, they could have attended a freshman football camp twice a week for three weeks in late April and are allowed to participate in the weight-lifting summer program.
Taking advantage of this opportunity to improve their chances of more playing time include incoming freshmen Jake Schmitt, Tyler Talon, Scott Musgrave and Jacob Attridge.
The varsity’s first game will be at Highland on Aug. 18 and at home against La Joya on Aug. 25.
Marcos de Niza football players, meanwhile, have been spending the summer months also preparing for the upcoming fall season by lifting weights, attending mini-camps and clinics and participating in passing leagues.
The team is attempting to regroup and bond after the loss of so many seniors who played prominent roles on the team for most of their high school playing careers.
This year they will be led by seniors Keandre Greer, Marcos Moreno, Joren David, Anthony Steinpreis, Anthony Cherry, Jr., Luis Sanchez, Andrew Torres, Alex Torres, Carlan Naisant, Carlos Aguilera, Joseph Lendo and Jesus Lopez.
Their first two games are away. The Padres will play Aug. 25 at Prescott and then Sept. 1 at Cactus.
The JV team will play Aug. 24 at home against Tempe and Aug. 31 at home against Cactus, while the freshman team plays Aug. 23 at Tempe and Aug. 30 at Cactus.
Track & field standouts from Corona, Marcos, Tempe High
Josephina Wright was name to the Republic’s All-Arizona girls track and field team for her 12-foot-10-inch pole-vault jump recorded at the Arcadia Invitational on April 8. It just so happens that Alexandria Goodson, a senior at Scottsdale Prep, was at the same meet and jumped the same height.
Both Wright and Goodson were named to the team and are tied for the No. 1 spot in the state in the pole vault event for 2017.
The good news is that Wright has not been participating in the pole vault for long and is getting better every week, according to head coach Tim Kelly. Expect to hear more about her accomplishments when she returns to Corona her senior year.
Corona track and field athletes continued to participate in track meets after the AIA DI state track meet wrapped up in May.
At the AZ Meet of Champions held May 11 at Brophy Sports Campus, senior Jalen Bryant placed second in the 200 meters with a time of 22.29.
Bryant finished his high school career ranked No. 9 in the state for his personal best time of 21.82 in the 200 meters and No. 8 in the state for his personal best time of 49.15 in the 400 meters. Both times were recorded at the Tempe City Championships April 20.
Benjamin Miller placed fourth in the 400 meters at the Meet of Champions with a time of 50.23.
Miller, only a sophomore, along with seniors Josh Onwardi, Bryant and Daniel Bish were the 4×400 relay team who finished second at the AIA DI state meet. This finish gave Corona’s team the No. 2 ranking in the state with their time of 3:30.32.
Another sophomore, Joel Wadsworth, finished eighth in the 1600 meters at the Meet of Champions while junior Dylan Waterhouse finished on his heels in 10th place. Junior Graham Eversden was 13th in the same race.
Eversden is ranked No. 8 in the state for his time of 1:57.04 in the 800 meters recorded on March 25 at the NIKE Chandler Rotary Elite.
Eversden is also part of Corona’s 4×800 relay team of Eversden, Colt Sample, Bish and Liam Kovatch, ranked No. 5 in the state with a time of 89:05.68 attained at the Arcadia Invitational April 8.
Senior Carlos Parra-Cihak took second place in the 110-meter hurdles at the Meet of Champions and fellow senior Sean Neely placed sixth.
One other member of the boys team is in the top 10 in the state. Josh Onwardi is tied at No. 7 for his 6-foot-6 high jump on March 10 at the Husky Invite. He is also tied for No. 8 for his 23-foot-4 jump in the long jump event recorded at the AIA DI state meet on May 3
On the girls team, senior Jackie Martin ran in both the 100 meter and 200 meters at the Meet of Champions finishing in fourth and fifth place respectively.
Renee Payne, another senior, ran the 800 meters at the Meet of Champions crossing the finish line in third place with a time of 2:17.87.
Payne is ranked No. 6 in the state in this same race for her time of 2:13.45 recorded at the AIA DI state meet on May 3.
Marcos de Niza senior Marcus Naisant is tied for No. 5 in the state after jumping 6-foot-7 at the Tempe City Champions April 20. He is also ranked No. 10 in the state for both his 23-foot-3.75 long jump and his 45-foot-9.5 triple jump recorded at the AIA DII state meet.
Tempe High School senior DeAndre Hughes ended up ranked No. 2 in the state after his 47-foor-5.75 triple jump recorded at the Tempe City Championships April 20.
Corona junior Adam Knuff took second place with a combined score of 2819 points at the VCHS Heptathlon/Decathlon held May 12 at Valley Christian High School.
Out of the 10 events, Knuff finished first in three events: the 100 meter, 400 meter and 110-meter hurdles.
He took second in the long jump and tied for second in the high jump
Placing in the top two in those five events may have offset his lower scores in the other events and helped him place second overall.
He finished fifth in discus, sixth in the 1400 meters, tied for sixth in pole vault, eighth in shot put and ninth in javelin.