Antonio Hinojosa has a chance to accomplish something no other quarterback has been done in the Norris Vaughan era at Mountain Pointe.
If all goes to plan Hinojosa, a sophomore taking the most snaps during spring practice, has a chance to be the Pride starter behind center the next two seasons.
It’s a modest but important goal.
“I know they’ve had a lot of quarterbacks, and hopefully I can change that,” Hinojosa said. “I want to show them I can be the starter the next couple of years.”
As of now Hinojosa doesn’t have much competition, but that could change by the fall. Open enrollment and the current transfer rules (the Arizona Interscholastic Association is considering a 50-mile radius rule) can bring in a candidate at any moment.
With that said, Vaughan is showing confidence in the 5-foot-10, 165-pound Hinojosa.
“He has looked good,” Vaughan said. “He has good speed, a great arm and he is accurate. He is not really tall and he has never started a varsity game so we will see, but he has a chance to be as good as any quarterback we’ve had here.”
The ideal scenario has the Marcos de Niza transfer playing well this fall as a junior and then coming back as a senior with Vaughan opening up his vast playbook, something he has yet to do since coming over from Wickenburg, that pushes Hinojosa and the offense to a new level.
Vaughan has several offensive packages he has used in Georgia and Wickenburg that haven’t been tapped into because he has had four starting quarterbacks in three years at Mountain Pointe with none of them coming back the next year.
In 2009 Austin Blom was a senior who was a great facilitator of the offense that concentrated on the run. In 2010 junior Kyle Faunce set a handful of passing records in helping the Pride get back to the semifinals, but moved back to Indiana for his senior year.
Then last year junior Caleb Buck was the starter the last seven games after it was decided converted senior running back Dillan Johnson was better suited in his natural position. Buck showed some growth over that time, but transferred to Maricopa over Christmas break to leave yet another void behind center.
That’s where Hinojosa, whose mother re-married and they moved into his stepfather’s Ahwatukee Foothills home in November, steps in.
“I’ve felt comfortable from the start and my teammates have been great in accepting me,” Hinojosa said. “I’ve had the playbook for about two months. It’s definitely different than what I had (at Marcos) and I am under center a lot more.
“It’s going good. I’m still learning.”
Hinojosa said he threw “about” 27 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on Marcos’ junior varsity team and is excited to see what he can do in an offense that includes fellow sophomore Jalen Brown, who has about seven scholarship offers, at wide receiver and plenty of other play-making skill players.
“It is real easy to throw to those guys and makes my job a lot easier,” Hinojosa said. “Jalen is great and we have a lot of stars on offense that I can get the ball to.”
Brown, who has caught 62 balls for 903 yards and 11 touchdowns in two seasons, has been working hard to create some rapport with Hinojosa with hopes it is a relationship that lasts after watching the turnstile spin in the huddle.
“(The quarterback shuffle) been a little bit different, but I’ve learned to live with it,” said Brown, who has offers from Oregon, Southern Cal, Boise State and the Arizona schools, among others. “Antonio is doing good. He is young and he is going to improve a lot.
“He has a great arm, he can get out of the pocket and he has a nice touch on the ball.”
Hinojosa is excited about the opportunity and feels he will fit in well with the Mountain Pointe program.
“It is like Marcos in that it is real competitive,” he said. “There is a high level of standard and work ethic is really big here. The coaches push you and Coach Vaughan is on top of you to get better.
“It’s what I like and what I need.”
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