The high school football season is right around the corner, and long-time Corona Coach Gary Venturo is expecting his players to be in the mix in the highly competitive Central Region again this season.
“Every team in the Central Region is a state contender,” said Venturo.
“High on my list to make the 5A state championships, though, will be Hamilton, Chandler, and Brophy: The same as always.”
The Aztec players spent the summer honing their football skills. Venturo took 91 players to a summer football camp in Snowflake, where they accomplished their goal of coming together as a team and improving several players who will have an impact on this season’s results. Corona football also participated in the Mesa High Passing League.
Several players stood out in the summer programs, including returning quarterback Chase Cartwright.
Cartwright is expected to continue with his offensive skill set from where he left off last season when he passed for over 1200 yards with 10 touchdowns as a sophomore.
Venturo is expecting five starters on offense and six starters on defense to return this season.
“One of this year’s team strengths will be overall quickness and the competitiveness of our skill players,” said Venturo.
“We have several outstanding players who are expected to contribute to the success of this season’s team including Kirby Pellant, Brandon Stern, Brandon Tunstall, Kyle Benson, Ryan Nolan, Michael Lange, Evan Altheide, Alan Stitt, Derek Maisel, Zach Sitton, Tyler Giannonatti, Vincent Bonanno, Gregory Brandon and Kyle Homewood.”
“In addition, we’ve added some new talent to our roster,” said Venturo.
“I’m expecting several of them to play a role in our success this season including Grant Walton, David Oney, Billy Johnson, Austin Carothers, Grant Shidawara, Evan Ritchey, Zeric Butters, Kyle Winstead, Max Tapia, Jon Paul Dyament, Austin Malm and Mark Kinney.
At the beginning of the season, the Aztecs should have quicker part-time running backs but so far no one has been designated as a starter. Corona’s weaknesses include the need for more offensive linemen and position depth overall.
Practice will start at 2:45 p.m. Aug. 4. The team will travel to Prescott Valley on Aug. 20 for a scrimmage against Bradshaw Mountain. The first regular season game will be Aug. 29 at Dobson.
The Aztecs first home football game will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 4 against