As the saying goes, “The show must go on.” So must the Tempe All-City Awards, even if virtually, as they were on Feb. 6, when Tempe Union High School District fall-sports student-athletes were recognized.
When COVID-19 hit the U.S. a year ago, most people probably expected that things would be back to something akin to normal by now. The Tempe All-City Awards Banquet was canceled last spring after spring sports were cancelled.
Association members were determined to give the athletes from 2020 fall sports some normalcy with these All-City Awards, as they have since 1982. Twenty-seven student-athletes from Corona del Sol, Marcos de Niza, McClintock and Tempe high schools received awards.
Corona had seven girls and seven boys honored, including three in badminton, two in volleyball, one in swimming, two in golf and six in football.
Junior Samantha Arredondo, who placed sixth in both the 50-yard freestyle and 100 freestyle at the Division I State Championships, received two All-City awards.
Corona’s Merilyn Li, Kayla McDonald and Megan Kirchhardt won all three of the awards in badminton.
Li, a sophomore, reached the quarterfinals at state before losing to a Perry player. She was presented the singles award while McDonald and Kirchhardt, both juniors, were recognized for their doubles play. They were the only doubles team from the Tempe Union High School District to qualify for state.
Aztecs volleyball players honored were senior Anna Jackson, at opposite hitter, and sophomore Ella Lomigora, at middle blocker.
Jackson played in all 56 sets during the season, leading her team with 217 kills, nearly four per set. She also led her team in aces, with 31, and added 94 digs.
Lomigora was second on the team with 141 kills, or 2.5 a set. Perhaps her most amazing skill is her ability to block the ball. Lomigora had 25 solo blocks and 56 assisted for a total of 81. The next-closest Corona player was Jackson, with three solo and 28 assisted for 31. Lomigora had 50 more blocks than Jackson.
Corona senior golfer Caroline Formisano was recognized for taking 27th place in the two-day Division I State Championship Oct. 26-27 at Tucson National Golf Course, carding 173. She was the top Corona finisher and helped her team finish eighth.
Corona sophomore Nicholas Morrow received a Tempe All-City award for his 14th place in the Division I State Golf Tournament with a score of 75 the first day and 69 the second for 144.
The Aztecs were led in the football category by senior quarterback Quade Swearingen, who had a storied career, especially his senior season, when he led his team to an undefeated regular record.
Swearingen completed 85 of 126 passes for 1,353 yards, more than 150 yards a game, as the Aztecs rolled to their best season in years. The team was 8-0 and qualified for the Open Division of the 2020 AIA State Football Championships, where it lost in the opening round to Hamilton.
The Aztec football team, which did not miss a game due to COVID-19 restrictions, had three more offensive players and two defensive players recognized: senior Jack Farley and juniors Theren White and Anyale Velazquez.
Farley played in all nine games as kickoff returner, running back eight for an average of 25.4 yards. White was recognized for his play on the offensive line.
Velazquez, a running back, led the Aztecs with 1,006 rushing yards, an average of 111.8 a game, on 156 carries. He scored 12 touchdowns.
From the Corona defense, senior Jake Schmitt and junior Elijah Sayers received awards.
Schmitt, a linebacker, led the Aztecs in tackles with 33 solo and 20 assisted for 53 total. He was the team tackles-for-loss leader with 11. Schmitt also had three quarterback sacks and two interceptions.
Sayers, a defensive lineman, intercepted a pass, recovered a fumble, had 1.5 sacks, 16 tackles and five tackles for loss.
Marcos de Niza awardees included senior Hailey White for girls volleyball and seniors Niccolas Updyke and Jacob Irick along with junior Nickolas Samaniego and Isaiah Williams for football.
White, a middle blocker, played in all 51 sets, amassing 190 kills on 378 attempts, or killing the ball more than 50 percent of the time. She had more than twice as many kills as her next-closest teammate, who had 91.
Updyke was the Padres’ leading receiver, with 34 for 499 yards and nine touchdowns. Samaniego was recognized for his offensive-line play.
Williams, a defensive lineman, was the Padres’ leading tackler with 39 solo and 28 assisted tackles for 67, an average of 8.4. He also had 17 tackles for loss, where the next-closest teammate had six. Williams’ most-impressive statistic may be his 16 quarterback sacks, an average of two a game.
Irick, a linebacker, was second in sacks with four, and second in tackles with 31 solo and 27 assisted for 58. Irick also was the punter, averaging more than 33 yards with a long of 53 yards. He placed the ball inside the opponents’ 20-yard line on 10 of his 29 punts.
McClintock senior swimmer Candace Farling ranked fourth in the state in Division II in the 100-yard butterfly with her time of 58.85 seconds at the state qualifier.
Sophomore William Mueller was honored for his seventh-place at state in 1-meter diving with 376 points, helping his team place 15th place among 29 D-II teams in the state championship.
McClintock football seniors Jaden Mason and Khashmier Saxton were recognized on offense and seniors Benjamin Roberts and Noah Amin Sanchez on defense.
Mason, who played quarterback and running back for the Chargers, was recognized as a rusher. In McClintock’s seven games, Mason carried 132 times for 1,013 yards, an average of 144.7 a game, and scored 15 touchdowns. He also caught seven passes for 37 yards. At quarterback, he completed 15 of 36 passes for 205 yards.
Saxon received his Tempe All-City award for his play on the offensive line.
Roberts, recognized as a defensive back, was the Chargers’ leading tackler with 44 solo and 22 assisted for 66, 9.4 a game. He intercepted two passes, returning them for a 20-yard average. He forced and recovered a fumble.
Sanchez was recognized as a defensive lineman, with 26 solo and 17 assisted tackles 43, 6.1 a game. He posted 10 tackles for loss, one sack for 15 yards lost and a fumble recovery.
Tempe High senior defensive back Isikeli Fakava, who played in all six games, led the Buffaloes with 36 solo tackles and 17 assisted for 53, 8.8 a game.
Corona boys soccer
The Aztecs boys soccer team, with a 2-3-1 record, is relatively young, with five seniors. Last season, it had 11 seniors.
Senior Reyes Carbajal’s three goals lead the team. He also has an assist for a 7 points. Sophomore Andrew Davies-Boerner has two goals and three assists for 7 points.
The Aztecs have spread the rest of the scoring among seniors Alex Barria and Logan Beatty, with one goal each. Sophomores Aran Garza and Nico White also each have scored a goal.
Junior goalkeeper Aidan Burns has allowed nine goals in six matches.
It has been trying for athletes and coaches during the pandemic, when a match or a game can be called off at the last minute.
The Aztecs were on the field ready to play Mesa Desert Ridge on Jan. 29 at home on the NFHS Network. Desert Ridge did not show up. The match may be rescheduled for Feb. 19.
Regardless, five seniors, including Carbajal, Barria, Beatty, midfielder Moises Escobedo and forward Sean Amjadi, are all happy to get any playing time in their final seasons.
Seven juniors — goalkeepers Burns and Jacob Feliz, defenders Padraic Maguire and Diego Aplicano, forwards Rohit Chagam and Frankie Sunderland and midfielder Nick Fiet — are optimistic that things will be better next year for their senior seasons.
Likewise, six sophomores — midfielders Garza and White, forward Davies-Boerner, defenders Nico Ramirez and Brandon Olivares, and goalkeeper Antonio Lopez — are glad they have two more years to play in conceivably better conditions.
Two freshman defenders, Pablo Frausto and Vaughn Harris, are expected to gain valuable skills and experience from their older teammates.
The next game was scheduled for Feb. 17, at home against Chaparral.
Corona is scheduled to play at home Feb. 22 against Mesa before a match at Chandler on Feb. 23.
The last three currently scheduled games are at home against Basha on Feb. 25, at Westview on March 1, and at home against Boulder Creek on March 2.