Sports Notebook...with Brian Gomez
New challenge doesn’t phase former Aztec guard
CAMP TONTOZONA – For Corona del Sol High School graduate Mike Pollak, the surroundings were the same, but his role drastically changed.
Pollak, a redshirt freshman on the Arizona State University football team, left Camp Tontozona this month as the starting center, elevated to the first string after senior Drew Hodgdon suffered a fractured right foot.
Hodgdon is expected to miss at least two games, meaning Pollak will start the Sept. 2 season opener against Texas-El Paso. Not bad for someone projected to be a backup right guard.
“Since I’ve been thrown into center, I’ve been taking each practice as one practice itself,” said Pollak, named the offense’s MVP for Camp Tontozona. “I’m not worrying about tomorrow. I’ve just got to worry about the practice ahead of me.”
The adjustment process went smooth for Pollak, who never played center in high school and worked primarily at right guard last season. There were a couple fumbles on the quarterback-center exchange at Camp Tontozona, but none during the final scrimmage.
“I’m having to worry about front calls and blitzes, and I have to make a good snap at the same time,” Pollak said. “It’s a little more pressure, but I think I’m handling it pretty well.”
Working with Pollak isn’t quite like having Hodgdon in the lineup, but senior quarterback Andrew Walter has no complaints.
“He’s a smart kid and he wants to be in there,” Walter said of Pollak. “He wants to work hard, and he does work hard. Any time you have those attributes, everything works out in the end.”
Joining Pollak at Camp Tontozona were former Aztecs Brett Nenaber and Beau Bandura, both redshirt freshmen on the scout team.
Nenaber, a safety, played quarterback at Corona, but has since converted to defense, where he stands the best chance of getting on the field.
“If you don’t have fun with it, there’s no reason to be out here,” Nenaber said. “You’ve got to love it to be out here.”
Playing right guard, Bandura added weight in the off-season in hopes of increasing his durability.
“It was really tough last year because I wasn’t as skilled as I am right now,” Bandura said. “I’m still under par compared to all the other O-linemen, but I’m getting better, and I’m stronger this year, so I’m able to hold my own a little better.”
Chandler All-Stars bounced
The Chandler All-Stars youth baseball team, which consists primarily of players from the Kyrene Corridor, was eliminated last month at the Western Section Championships in Chino Hills, Calif.
The team got there with wins in the Arizona Section and Desert Region tournaments. Had the Chandler All-Stars prevailed, they would have advanced to the Pony Mustang World Series in Irving, Texas.
“My goal was to get to the region because the previous year, the team that went got one run away,” Chandler All-Stars manager Glen Poole said. “My goal was to do just one game better than them. Once I got that goal, then everything else was gravy.”
Heat Strokes advance
Sparked by Kyrene Corridor residents Alex Lawson, Kyle Ogren and Danielle Hoyme, the Ahwatukee Heat Strokes 14-and-under tennis team went unbeaten this month at the USA Team Tennis Southwest Section Championships in El Paso, Texas.
The Heat Strokes advance to the West Regional Championships, having downed teams from Las Cruces, El Paso, Albuquerque and Tucson at the sectional finals.
Lawson and Ahwatukee resident Kathryn Cantrill are the only returnees from a team that finished second behind Hawaii at last year’s regional finals.
Corona will field a team next season in the Kyrene Warriors Lacrosse Club and plans to compete in the Arizona Youth Lacrosse League.
The Kyrene Warriors have drawn students from Aprende Middle School and Pueblo Middle School. Skills clinics are scheduled for October.
For more information, call Mark Burnside at (602) 567-2572.