Corona del Sol
The Aztecs are hosting the Casa Grande Cougars, coach Jake Barro’s former program, in a five-star matchup to open the 2023 football season. Corona, under Barro’s first year leadership in 2022, registered a 8-3 record and a playoff berth and are looking to start the season off with a meaningful win.
Casa Grande, formerly a 4A program when Barro and company won the state title in 2021, jumped up to 5A and will test their grit against one of the biggest dark horse programs of the 6A conference.
Senior quarterback Connor Ackerley let sparks fly last season under a new offensive scheme, and was aided by the talents of receivers Zuri Glenn and Raiden Vines-Bright.
With the return of major playmakers on offense for the Aztecs, the score may tip in favor of the hometown team. Corona should handle Barro’s former program and start 2023 with a sweet win.
Marcos de Niza
The Padres made history in 4A last season with a 9-2 record in the 4A, 4-0 in the Desert Sky section, but fell short in the post season. However, don’t expect a hangover from Marcos as senior quarterback Braesen Leon is ring chasing. Leon had a breakout season in 2022 behind his high-powered skill players and coach Anthony Figueroa.
Nonetheless, the Padre’s are on a revenge tour in 2023 and start their season at home against Yuma Catholic. Yuma Catholic will prove to be a tough test out of the gate. The Shamrocks recorded an impressive 9-3 record in 4A during the 2022 season and made it into the second round of the postseason before falling by a mere point to Lake Havasu.
The Padres developed a strong brotherhood prior to the successful 2022 season, and the chemistry is still red hot. This will be a grudge match between two 4A behemoths.