Corona’s football players, under new head coach Tom Joseph, took on a new challenge that may have helped them not only during the 2011 football season but ultimately throughout their lifetime.
“Last year was a new adventure in my coaching career,” said Joseph. “Trying to get everyone on board was quite the challenge. We introduced the word commitment to the program and a lot of players started to figure out why it’s so important to every thing you do in life.”
The Aztecs had a tough schedule but finished the season 5-5 winning more games than they had the previous two seasons combined when they were 1-10 in 2010 and 4-6 in 2009.
“Last season turned out pretty well over all,” said Joseph. “We got better as the season went on and with our tough schedule it made a huge difference.”
Despite losing five games over the season, the Aztecs averaged 21.4 points, over 85 yards passing, 216 yards rushing, 68 tackles and 1.5 sacks per game.
Seniors, most of whom experienced first hand the upheaval the football program the last four years, continued to contribute to the team’s success.
Dominic Mecurio, the leading rusher for the team, carried the ball 187 times to gain 1223 yards or close to 136 yards a game and score 11 rushing touchdowns. He was the leading scorer with 78 of the teams 214 points.Matt Seall had five receptions, scoring on two with touchdowns to add 12 points offensively and recording 18 tackles and 2 sacks on defense.
Avery Moss led the team with five sacks, had 26 total tackles and then scored a touchdown on the only pass he caught all season–a 33 yard pass against Dobson from senior quarterback Kyle Busk.
Busk completed 47% of his passes averaging 57 yards per game while carrying the ball himself 47 times to gain short yardage when needed.
Zach Hamm led the team in tackles averaging close to nine a game while Andrus Peat protected the his own quarterback but was credited with sacking the Highland quarterback three times when he played defense Sept. 16.
Seniors like Dylan Calhoon, John Reidel, Nicholas Woods and Taylor Price contributed to the team’s success wherever needed. Calhoon caught a 60-yard pass in the Aztecs win over Dobson, Reidel was one of the leading tacklers with 32, Woods had 23 tackles and Price led the team in interceptions with three plus he had the only blocked field goal on the team—against Cibola Sept. 20.
Zach Von Allworden, Corona’s senior kicker, punted the ball 28 times averaging 38 yards per punt, scored 20 points on point after kicks and ended up with six touchbacks on his 29 kickoffs.
The returning players are spending the summer working on their skills and getting stronger for the fall season.
“We have that same tough schedule this season as last,” said Joseph. “Our athletes have been weight training at 5:30 a.m. every morning to get ready plus we have just finished three weeks of passing league and the athletes that participated have made remarkable strides.”
Those athletes include several in-coming seniors who gained valuable experience and contributed mightily to the Aztecs 2011 season including Beau Sitton, Maceo Brown, James Vaifale, Quinn Robertson, James Contes, Billy Clemens, Cater Colton, Evan Kinney and Dylan Huch, just to name of few.
Contes, one of the leading scorers with 18 points, carried the ball 92 times averaging 54 rushing yards and 15 yards receiving per game. He will be called upon, along with incoming junior wide receiver Tevin Mayfield, to score points this fall. Mayfield, as the only sophomore on the 2011 team, was the leading receiver with 19 receptions gaining 349 yards with three touchdowns.
Defensive-minded players who are most likely weight training this summer are the 2011 leading tacklers Sitton, with 55 and Brown 26 and Vaifale, who had two inceptions and one fumble recovery along with Colton who had one kick off return that could have been a game-changing 62 yards against Highland.
The Aztecs will use their July football camp to work on being fundamentally ready for when the season which starts Aug. 24 according to Joseph.
Corona was not the only Tempe high school to get a new coach. McClintock who plays Division II football went 3-7 overall in coach Matthew Lewis’ first season. The chargers, on paper, should be a much improved team this fall when Lewis returns 29 of his 41 players from last season including the Chargers outstanding quarterback Xavier Gomez.
Although the Chargers only won three games total, the team set some single-game records during 2011. In the game they won against Tempe Aug. 26, the Chargers completed .762 percent of their passes to set a new record for the school.
Sept. 30, against Shadow Mountain, the team topped the school single game record by rushing 367 yards and then, even in a Sept. 2 loss against Chavez, the Chargers set a yards per catch single-game record of 43.50.
The team averaged 20 points, 138 passing and 173 rushing yards per game with 66 tackles and .6 sacks a game.
The 201 points scored by McClintock was spread out among nine players. Sammy Jones was the leader with eight touchdowns and two conversions for 50 points while Bryce Posten had 39, Preston Ryan 30, Joseph Wells 26 and Gomez 24. Posten scored 18 point after kicks but was multi-talented scoring three touchdowns and one field goal.
Gomez, as the leading passer, completed 89 passes for 1079 yards or 108 yards per game and 11 touchdowns. Backup quarterback RJ Rhiner completed 9 of 18 attempts for 221 yards and two touchdowns.
Gomez had an abundance of receivers to choose from including Wells, who led the team with 33 receptions for 312 yards and three touchdowns, followed by Ryan, who only had 12 receptions for 301 yards but scored five touchdowns. Posten had 14 receptions for three touchdowns, the longest being 66 yards, while Kyreen King scored two touchdowns on six caught passes.
Jones was the rush leader for the team carrying the ball 120 times for 617 yards and eight touchdowns while, Gomez, was right behind him in the state carrying the ball 100 times for 583 times and four touchdowns. Billy Suell had 23 carries, Jorge Valles 26 and Ryan 14.
The Chargers relied on the defensive skills of Keegan Allen, who lead the team with 63 tackles or 10.5 per game followed by Semir Andelija with 43, Trevor Logan 37 and Josh Aberle with 32.
Wells, who played both sides of the ball, had three interceptions and recovered three fumbles while Logan and Chris Contreras had one interception each. Andre Collier and Soloman Levin-Sanders each recovered two fumbles each. Kurtis Colter and Logan both sacked a quarterback two times each.
All around player Wells was also McClintock’s leading punter with 24 punts averaging 29 yards per punt while Ryan punted the ball12 times over the season with his longest one 51 yards
Senior Wells, who will be hard to replace next season, was also the team’s leading punt and kickoff returning. Others included Posten, Josh Aberle and Jones.
Lewis will have returning players Gomez, Aberle, Ryan, Valles to provide senior leadership to his young but experienced team which will include juniors Rhiner, King and Jones.
Marcos de Niza football
In the seven years that Roy Lopez has been at the helm of Padre football, he has compiled an astounding 53-25 record which is the best of the four local Tempe high schools.
The Padres, playing Division II, were ranked 14th in the state last season, compiling 208 passing yards, 211 rushing yards for an average of 36.6 points per game offensively and 69 tackles and 2.2 sacks per game defensively.
Altogether, the Padres had 13 players score 439 points including Mauriece Lee who scored 90 points on 15 touchdowns or an average of over eight points per game. Paul Elvira scored 12 touchdowns compiling 72 points over the season while quarterback Tommy Thornton and Jaquese Moore both scored eight touchdowns or 48 points each. Adam Pavlenko and Josh Eckley scored 30 points each.
Most of the points were scored on passes from Thornton who completed 150 out of his 228 attempts or 66% of his passes for 20 touchdowns or an average of 200 yards passing per game. Thornton only threw four interceptions the entire season.
Thornton’s favorite target was Elvira who had 48 receptions for 774 yards for an average of 65 yards per game. Next was Lee with 23 catches for 405 yards or 37 per game. Taylor Blankenship, Josh Kirkwood and Royal Bailey, also caught passes averaging over 20 yards receiving per game.
Although most of the Padre’s points came off of touchdown receptions, Thornton either kept the ball himself, 100 carries during the season, averaging 64 yards per game, or handed off to Lee who averaged over 65 yards rushing per game
The Padre’s punter, Daniel Villalobos punted the ball 22 times for 887 yards with his longest punt an astounding 74 yards. Villalobos also averaged 9.2 tackles per game on defense.
Jaren Jones scored 19 of the team’s point with point after kicks in three of the Padres games.
The Padre’s leading tackler was Adam Pavlenko who had over 110 tackles, or an average of over 9 per game, the same as Villalobos. Averaging over 8 was Rashad Baker followed by Dustin Lambson, Angelo Zacchio, Giovann Gomez-Makel, Richard Dollar and Jake Mansperger.
Opponent quarterbacks were fearful of being sacked by the Padre’s defensive line for good reason. They had whopping 26 sacks over the season or over 2 per game causing their opponents to lose 182 yards. The leading sacker was Baker with 10 followed by Zacchio with five and Mansperger and Pavlenko with three each.
Together, the Padres defensive unit had 13 interceptions, seven alone by Gomez-Makel and two by Priest Willis. This same unit caused their opposition to fumble the ball 17 times that the Padres were able to recover. Zacchio was credited with blocking a field goal.
Third year coach Brian Walker’s Tempe High School football team were 1-9 during 2011 only defeating Apache Junction 30-22 pm Sept. 30.
The Buffalos, playing in Division III, averaged over 17 points per game with 111 passing and 169 rushing yards per game. The defense played hard averaging 50 tackles and one sack per game.
The leading scorer was Raija Holt who amassed 54 points over the season scoring nine of the team’s 24 touchdowns. He was followed by Marcus Whitmore with 24 points, Salvador Sanchez with 20, Clayton Kelly 18, Osvaldo Gomez 13 and Emanuel Gant 12.
Miguel Valenzuela, Dequan Hughes, Trevin McKinney and Martin Castillo each scored a touchdown earning six points for the Buffalos.
Starting quarterback Gant completed 73 of 146 passes for over 100 yards per game and seven touchdowns during the season. Backup quarterback Dayvon Phelps completed 50% of his passes.
Gants two favorite targets were James Sanchez and Sebastian Watkins who each caught 17 passes but Holt and Gomez gained the most yards, 253 and 205 yards respectively.
The leading rusher for the Buffalos was Holt who carried the ball 92 times for 497 yards followed by Clayton Kelly 66 carries for 429 yards and Hughes 49 carries for 380 yards.
Oscar Carrizosa averaged almost 10 tackles a game to lead the Buffalos on defense followed by Devonte Gray who was credited with almost 6 per game followed by Nojeem Adebule with 4, Castillo 3.8 and Whitmore 3.7 per game.
Carrizosa was credited with four quarterback sacks while Gray had two, Abel Borrayo and Castillo 1.5 each and Holdon Gardener-Moore had one quarterback sack.
McKinney, Gardener-Moore and Phelps each had one interception. Kalun White and Hughes caused two fumbles each. Isaac Chavez was credited with recovering one fumble as was Kelly, Barrayo, Castillo, Gray and Robinson. Carrizosa recovered two fumbles.
Gant, the quarterback, was also the leading punter for the Buffalos. He punted 25 times for 809 yards for an average of 32.36 yards per punt. His longest punt was 45 yards. He was followed by Jose Elias who punted 10 times for 214 yards.
Salvador Sanchez handled the kickoffs. Hughs and Hold returned 12 kickoffs each both averaging 20 yards per return.
The Buffalos first game is scheduled Sept. 7 at Saguaro.
Corona’s Girl’s Golf
Corona’s girls golf team won 12 dual meets and finished second in the City Tournament, fourth in the Tempe Invitational and fifth in the Prescott Invitational.The team and coach, Pat Reed, were disappointed that they were not able to make it into the state tournament as a team with the new AIA’s rigorous requirements. It was the first time in over 10 years that Corona had not been one of the top 6 teams in the Division I state tournament.
“My first thought is that the new system to “get to state” was unfair,” said Reed. “Our team played at extremely difficult courses and missed qualifying 5 times by one or two strokes.”
Only 13 Division I teams qualified this year, down from 29 the year before
Brooke Taylor and Halie Carpenter both qualified as individuals for the 2011 Division I championship tournament at Aguila Golf Club Oct. 28-29. Taylor shot 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, Kerry Lorenz and Isabel Ramos to graduation, coach Reed expects to return Carpenter, Katy Consoer, Heather Harry, Heather Hittenberger and Kelly Robb next fall.
These remaining golfers have been have been working out at Jared’s two times a week since the season ended and three of them are golfing regularly through the Junior Golf program according to Reed.
“I believe that we will be more mentally ready for our challenge of the tough qualifying standards and make it into the state tournament this fall,” said Reed.
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.
Gur Arie was the top finisher for the team making it the fourth round in the state tournament. She finished as one of the top 16 out of 70 girls who qualified for state.
Emerson and Reeve made it past the third round in the state doubles tournament
The Lady Aztecs will only have two returning players next season, Lum and Li, so they will need to rely on players from its 8-6 junior varsity team to fill in the spots.
Corona Girls Volleyball
Corona’s girls volleyball team finished the season with a 28-13 overall record and 10-4 in their section ending up ranked No. 10 in the state. The Lady Aztecs, as the No. 11 seed, lost to Hamilton in the Division I state tournament in the first round.
“We had a really good team last year and, unfortunately, were hit with some key injuries,” said coach Ben Maxfield. “We had a tough first round matchup and lost, but I do believe we were still a top 5 team.”
Girls’ volleyball, along with several other teams at Corona, was hit hard with the new AIA power point rules that created a great deal of controversy.
“The AIA has acknowledged the power points were incorrect for most of the sports,” said Maxfield. “We would have played Rincon in the first round, rather than Hamilton. Regardless, you still have to win.”
The Lady Aztecs had several standout players in 2011 including Olivia Ortiz, Jamie Burt, Haley Kesteloot, Alexa Moser, Cassie Fish, Kasey Kiefer and Steph Kennedy.
“Setter Olivia Ortiz was sensational as a sophomore,” said Maxfield. “She runs such a fast and varied offense. Her sets are very consistent and easy for our hitters to connect with.”
“Jamie Burt, on the right side was phenomenal, leading all Division 1 opposites in hitting percentage,” said Maxfield. “Haley Kesteloot finished a stellar career as a three-year starter at libero and even broke her personal record for digs in her last match at Corona.”
“Alexa Moser continued being a steady and consistent player she has been for our team the past three years,” said Maxfield. “Cassie Fish, who was injured in the beginning of the season, had a great career at Corona. She did a lot of good things playing back row for us, and then stepping back into the setter’s role when Olivia was injured.”
“Outside hitter Kasey Kiefer and defensive specialist Steph Kennedy were solid players and will counted on to lead our team this year,” said Maxfield.
The team has been doing strength and conditioning throughout the summer and most of the athletes are still training with club teams according to Maxfield. They will have a two-week team camp prior to the season.
The Lady Aztecs are scheduled to play Aug. 28 at Dobson as their first match.
“We have four starters back in Olivia Ortiz, Caroline Trent, Steph Kennedy, and Kasey Kiefer,” said Maxfield. “Add to the team a nice group of underclassmen, and I think we will have a solid team that is going to surprise some people.”
Corona’s swim and dive team, with the help of first year coach, Ron Musgrave, had a dozen swimmers qualify for the state tournament.
“We had two boys relay teams qualify for the state tournament,” said Musgrave. “Nicole Holly and Nick Quan both qualified in the 100 yard butterfly, Chris Tate missed qualifying in the same event by just over one second, and Chloe Hacker won her second consecutive state dive championship.”
Quan, Neon Stern, Chris Tate and Ryan Riley qualified in the in the 200 yard medley relay just missing swimming in the finals after coming in 17th in the preliminaries.
Alexander Smith, Tate, Nicholas Wilson and Riley finished 18th in the preliminaries of the 200 yard freestyle relay and therefore, did not qualify to swim in the finals.
Hacker took home her second championship in the girls 1 meter diving championship defeating 31 other qualifier with a 378.70 score.
Coach Musgrave is looking to build on what the team accomplished in 2011 with the goal of doubling the number of swimmers who make state. He has encouraged the returning swimmers to start the season in better swim shape by joining swim clubs and working out this summer.
“Our season is quite short and challenging for any swimmer who is not in shape when they come out in the fall,” said Musgrave. “I was pleased to learn, at our recent team meeting, how many of our swimmers joined clubs and are swimming this summer.”
Members of the team are attending a strength camp at Corona’s weight room under the direction of Corona’s strength and conditioning coach Scott Centanni which Musgrave plans to continue to improve the athletes on his team.
Musgrave has been planning, with his two new assistant coaches, all summer and they are expecting a large turnout for Corona’s team and an improved level of ability during Musgrave’s second year as head coach.
“We are excited for this upcoming season and looking forward to seeing the improvement in our state qualifiers from last season and returning swimmers Amy Hong, Trace Langley, Michael Ortiz, and Matt Hurst, to name just a few,” said Musgrave. “I am also expecting great things from our dive champ, Chloe Hacker, and would like to have a few more qualify for the dive state meet.”
Corona Cross Country
Corona’s boys cross country team finished fourth and the girls team fifth at the Division I state tournament held held Nov. 6 at the Cave Creek Golf course.
Senior Jared Hirschl placed fourth while sophomore Jake Whitney was 17th for the Aztecs. Fellow seniors Jim Hert was 25th, Daniel Wrapp 33rd, Michael Seall 86th and Justan Yang 127th. Freshman Ryan Normand came in 69th to give the team a total time of 1:23:52.970.
The boys team will be losing several seniors but have others waiting in the wings to help Whitney and Normand to hopefully help the Aztec continue their top five standing among the Division I cross country teams.
Dani Lemiux was 17th, Sara Wright 12th, Hallie Swenson 26th, Hannah Lewis 45th, Ellen Dunn 59th, Alyssa Ramsland 90th, and Hanna Snyder 97th. The team time of 1:42:44.750 gave the Lady Aztecs their fifth place finish.
The girls team will lose Wright, Dunn, Ramsland and Snyder but should be returning Lemiux and Lewis for their senior seasons along with Swenson and who will only be a junior.