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Friday 01/13/2017
DV hockey team earns top seed for playoffs

The Desert Vista club hockey team hopes to extend its regular season success into the postseason.

The Thunder earned the top seed in the state playoffs after going 13-3-4 during the regular season to finished first in Division 3, two points ahead of Shadow Ridge.

Desert Vista earned a bye into the semifinals and will play a team yet to be determined based on quarterfinal winners. The Thunder will take the ice against on Jan. 29 at the Scottsdale Ice Den.

The team has been led by Thomas Cooley, who is third in league for most goals (18 in 20 games), Ben Deming, who led the league in assists (24 in 20 games) and finished fifth (15) in goals, while goalie Macy Eide led the league in shutouts (four) and goals against average (1.88).

* Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda

Posted in Ahwatukee sports on Friday, January 13, 2017 2:55 pm. | Tags: Desert Vista Hockey , Thomas Cooley , Ben Deming , Macy Eide

Wednesday 01/11/2017
Wrestling: Flowing Wells breakdown and seeds

It's time for the best wrestling tournament of the season.

Not sure how it is already time for Flowing Wells but I'm ready for another trip to the Old Pueblo.

Here is some info sent along by Flowing Wells AD Pat Weber.

The teams:

Americas (Texas), Amphitheater, Boulder Creek, Brophy Prep, Canyon del Oro,  Catalina Foothills, Centennial, Cienega, Cleveland (New Mexico), Corona del Sol,  Del Valle (Texas), Deming (New Mexico), Desert Mountain, Desert View, Desert Vista, Douglas. El Dorado (Texas), Flowing Wells, Hamilton, Highland, Higley, Ironwood Ridge, Kofa,  Marana Mountain View, Marcos de Niza, Mesa Mountain View, Mountain Point, Pueblo, Queen Creek, Red Mountain, Rincon, Safford, Sahuarita, Sahuaro, San Luis, Silver (New Mexico), Socorro (Texas), Sunnyside, Thunderbird, Tucson, Walden Grove, Willcox 

Starting times:

Friday - 1st ROUND:    10 a.m. 2nd ROUND:   6 p.m. (quarters)

Saturday - 3rd ROUND:  10 a.m. (semis)    4th ROUND:   6 p.m.  Finals

There are six returning champions:

Joseph Otero Cleveland

Roman Bravo-Young Sunnyside

David Salazar Sunnyside

Dawon Andrews Safford

Chad Porter Desert Vista

Brandon Konecny Corona del Sol

There are 14 state champions in the field:

Vincent Dolce Corona

Brandon Konecny Corona

Roman Bravo-Young Sunnyside

Marco Rivera Tucson

David Salazar Sunnyside

Chad Porter Desert Vista

Diego Guerrero Walden Grove

Jacob Frias Desert View

Byron Finch Safford

Dawon Andrews Safford

Joseph Otero Cleveland

Michael Mascarenas Cleveland

Noah Mirabal Cleveland

Zeke Marquez Silver

Top 8 seeds


Ybarra Sunnyside

Blake Sahuaro

Kvale Corona

Dieball DMtn

Richards Mesa MtV

Mascarenas Cleveland

Avalos CDO

Arelanno Kofa


Rico Queen Creek

Garcia Sunnyside

Rivera Tucson

Guerro Grove

Ortiz Marana MtV

Valenzuela Kofa

Ochotorena Des View

Fuentes Willcox


Mascarenas Cleveland

Frias Des View

Rameriz Red Mountain 

Loaiza Sunnyside

Cunha Marana MtV

Schall Queen Creek

Johnson Cienega

Marquez Silver


Finch Safford

Mirabel Cleveland

Klass Ironwood Ridge

Castenda Kofa

Cota Marana MtV

Silva Grove

Bernstein Corona

Christofferson Boulder Creek


Bravo-Young Sunnyside

Crooks Boulder Creek

Castilla Marana MtV

Sias Safford

Pool Tucson

Killgore Walden Grove

Karantinos Red Mtn

Smith Desert Vista


Fernandez Queen Creek

Garcia COrona

Cole Boulder Creek

Saylor Centennial

Waiter Highland

Luttrell Cleveland

Howey Red Mtn

H. Salazar Sunnyside


Andrews Safford

D. Salazar Sunnyside

Peters Mesa MtV

Carmona Corona

Nieto Cleveland

Saenz Desert Mtn

Reyes Queen Creek

Silva Tucson


Dolce Corona

Lee Marana MtV

Torres Marcos de Niza

Wolfe Mesa MtV

Tena Sunnyside

Bliss Cienega

Spilsbury Cleveland

Boone Americas


Konecny Corona

Torres Marcos de Niza

Vega Silver

Hall Marana MtV

Esquivel Pueblo

Rasmussen Mtn Pointe

Varga Americas

Lopez Desert View


Graham Thunderbird

Castenada Kofa

Escobedo Tucson

Moore Red Mountain

Ruffalo Corona

Finch Safford

Galindo Silver

Muniz-Vega Sahuaro


Doolen Mesa MtV

Stevenson Thunderbird

Mansman Ironwood Ridge

Hernandez Sunnyside

Saba Queen Creek

Killgore W. Grove

Fill Corona

Crump-Valencia Tucson


Porter Desert Vista

Mickelson Thunderbird

Melkumov Cienega

Aguilar Marana MtV

Hollen Mesa MtV

Hercel Marcos de Niza

Tapia Higley

Kemp Americas


Banning Queen Creek

Umphres Safford

Cavanaugh Cienega

Sutkovic Thunderbird

Armstead Cleveland

Duarte Tucson

Sotelo Flowing Wells

Alvarenga W. Grove


Alamirano Cleveland

Hightower CDO

Bartz Highland

Okonowski Queen Creek

Johnson Desert Vista

Tuialuuluu Del Valle

Arbizo Safford

Barcelo Tucson

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahatukee.com.

Posted in Ahwatukee sports on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 4:06 pm. Updated: 11:57 am. | Tags: Flowing Wells , Wrestling , The Caballero

Monday 01/09/2017
Golla develops into offensive force for Thunder

Madison Golla just might be having the biggest breakout year in the East Valley.

The Desert Vista senior guard has become an offensive force after averaging no more than six points in her career.

“She is special and then some,” Desert Vista coach Rodney Berry said. “She worked on her defense and being more aggressive offense during the summer. She is just being a leader on and off the court.”

On the court the 5-foot-8 guard is averaging 18.5 points a game, which ranked fifth in the 6A Conference heading into this week’s action.

It’s big jump after averaging 6.0 as a sophomore and 5.5 as a junior.

“It’s my last season and I want to make it a special season,” she said after scoring 30 in a loss to Gilbert on Friday.

Her offensive output has been fueled by a 6A best 46 made 3-pointers on 115 attempts for a 40 percent clip, while making 85 percent of her free throws.

Golla, who has scored 20 or more six times including a season-high 31 against Desert Ridge, is also averaging third-best 5.4 rebounds and leads the teams in 2.6 steals and 2.2 assists per game.

There have been games where Golla has simply taken over and lead the team to victory.

“It’s a good feeling,” she said. “Everything is in sync and I feel like I going to hit all of my shots.”

The thing Berry has stuck out the most is her attitude and approach with the idea of doing everything the right way.

“She has a great attitude,” he said. “Now it is trickling down to the rest of the players.”

 * Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda

Posted in Ahwatukee sports on Monday, January 9, 2017 4:40 pm. Updated: 6:39 pm. | Tags: Desert Vista Girls Basketball , Madison Golla , Rodney Berry

Gilbert girls hoops on a roll with chemistry, celebrations helping out

Kyle Pedersen admitted it was a little odd to have to address what should come naturally with the Gilbert girls basketball team.

They took the time to discuss how players should react to a teammate after they take a free throw shot and how the bench should react to a made basketball.

“(Teaching that aspect) was new to me,” he said, “but they are doing a great job with it.”

It was the continuation of changing the culture and creating good chemistry for the program since he took over last season when he inherited a junior-laden roster but the key components were three sisters – the Cavinders.

“Chemistry is night and day compared to last season,” he said. “Last year we were extremely focused on chemistry because we basically had two separate groups coming together.”

The Tigers went on to go 19-11 before losing to eventual state champion Hamilton in the state quarterfinals.

Gilbert is off to a fantastic 13-2 start and have the look of a Final Four squad. The Tigers have tightened up the details of their defense and the offensive flow has the team scoring 58.9 points a game.

Pedersen credits the new chemistry as much as anything after making a point of teaching the girls how to go about congratulating teammates.

“This summer we sat down and talked about what is to be a good teammate,” he said. “It was the basics - What to do on the court, what do after each free throw? What do you do on the bench after we make a shot? We had to practice that kind of stuff.”

The team entered this week undefeated against Arizona competition behind the play of sophomore twins Hanna (16.1, 5.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists) and Haley (17.7 points, 5.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 3.1 steals) Cavinder, Tiffany Hurd (6.6 points, 11.3 rebounds), Stacy Hock (7.4 points, 5.3 rebounds) and Shayla Huskey (6.9 points, 5.3 rebounds).

“It’s a good start and we have played well, but it’s a tough region schedule,” Pedersen said of the 6A Central. “We have a lot of tough games ahead of us.”

* Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@evtrib.com

Posted in Ahwatukee sports on Monday, January 9, 2017 4:32 pm. Updated: 5:38 pm. | Tags: Gilbert Girls Basketball , Kyle Pedersen , Hanna Cavinder , Hayley Cavinder

Thursday 01/05/2017
DV wrestlers head to Wisconsin in search of experience, famous alumni

When the wrestling stops and the Desert Vista wrestlers are kicking back in the hotel, they just might run into one of their own.

The Thunder are headed to Wisconsin this weekend for the Cheesehead Invitational in Kaukauna. It is one of the top tournaments in the Midwest; if not the country.

By the time Saturday night comes around they will be dragging butt after the weekend’s work and head back to the team hotel in Appleton, but not before another team arrives at the same hotel.

The New York Giants are in town for a NFC first-round playoff game against the Packers. One of the Giants' top linebackers is Desert Vista graduate Devon Kennard, who Thunder wrestling coach David Gonzales had in class during his sophomore year.

“We will see if we can make it happen,” Gonzales said. “He has meetings and things to do, but hopefully it works out.”

Gonzales is also hopeful the wrestlers are ready for the competition ahead as the Cheesehead is littered with top talent from around the country.

“We will see where we really are,” he said. “Maybe I bit off more than I can chew, but they have to experience it. When I get there it won’t be about the experience, we are there to compete, but we will be able to look back on it and say we wrestled in one of the best tournaments in the country.

“We have a lot of seniors that have put in the time and deserve a trip like this, and the young guys will get a taste, too.”

Undefeated and defending state champion Chad Porter is geared up and ready to go. Porter is seeded fourth at 19-0 at 195 pounds and would most likely have to face Patrick Brucki, who is committed to Princeton and ranked as high as No. 2 in the country, in the semifinals.

“I’m just going out there confident because of my training, doing some extra work with my Dad,” said Porter, whose closest matches in Arizona so far have been by major decision. “I’m just going to go out there and keep doing to do what I’ve been doing. There are some kids who will challenge me in Arizona but not like this. I can’t wait to see where I stand with them.”

Contact Jason Skoda at (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda

Posted in Ahwatukee sports on Thursday, January 5, 2017 5:31 pm. Updated: 5:38 pm. | Tags: Desert Vista Wrestling , Chad Porter , David Gonzales , Cheesehead Invitational , New York Giants , Devon Kennard

Local players make impact on NFL rosters

The amount of East Valley players in the NFL might be somewhere near an all-time high.

The tally is at 13 by our count after scouring rosters assuming we didn’t miss a name or two.

Chandler has four players on rosters, although Dion Jordan of Miami hasn’t played in two years because of drug suspensions and knee surgeries, while Hamilton is next with two players.

The positions are broken down to two quarterbacks, one running back, one tight end, one wide receiver, three offensive lineman, three defensive linemen and two linebackers.

Here is a look at the individuals and regular season stats when available:


* Ryan Fitzpatrick (Highland/New York Jets)

According to the Arizona Republic, Fitzpatrick became the all-time leader for career touchdown passes for anyone connected to Arizona via their high school or college teams with 166, surpassing Jake Plummer (161).

It was about the only thing to celebrate this year for Fitzpatrick, who signed a contract late, struggled and was in and out of the lineup.

He completed 56.6 percent of his passes in 14 games for 2,710 yards with 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

* Brett Hundley (Chandler/Green Bay)

Played sparingly behind MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers as he completed 2 of 10 passes for 17 yards with an interception.

Running back

* Paul Perkins (Chandler/NY Giants)

The rookie from UCLA became more involved in the Giants’ offense as the season wore on including 102 yards on 21 carries in the regular season finale. He finished the year with 112 carries for 456 yards and 15 catches for 162 heading into the playoffs.

Defensive lineman/linebackers

* Devon Kennard (Desert Vista/NY Giants) had 61 tackles and a sack.

* Cameron Jordan (Chandler/Saints) finished with 58 tackles and 7.5 sacks.

* Terrell Suggs (Hamilton/Ravens) had 35 tackles, eight sacks to rank 21st in NFL history with 114.5 sacks.

* Kyler Fackrell (Mesa/Packers) had 19 tackles and two sacks in 13 games in rookie year.

* Dion Jordan (Chandler/Dolphins) missed his second straight full season because off the field situations.  

Tight end

* Braedon Bowman (Skyline/NY Jets/free agent) played in the Jets first three games without a catch and then was released.

Wide receiver

* Markus Wheaton (Chandler/Pittsburgh) shoulder injury shortened season to three games where he had four catches for 51 yards and a TD.

Offensive linemen

* Alex Lewis (Mountain Pointe/Ravens) held his own as a guard with Baltimore, but a concussion and high-ankle sprain limited him to nine games after winning a starting spot in preseason camp as a fourth-round pick.

* Andrus Peat (Corona del Sol/Saints) played in 15 games in his second year, and finished the year as the starting left guard.

* Christian Westermann (Hamilton/Bengals) was inactive most weeks for the Bengals after being selected in the fourth round in the June draft. 

* Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him Twitter @JasonPSkoda

Posted in Ahwatukee sports on Thursday, January 5, 2017 11:01 am. Updated: 9:02 am. | Tags: Desert Vista Football , Devon Kennard , Mountain Pointe Football , Alex Lewis , Chandler Football , Hamilton Football , Corona Del Sol Football , Mesa Football , Skyline Football , Highland Football

Wednesday 11/16/2016
Pride coaches, AD help driver in need after accident

It was supposed to be a quick jaunt up the road to McClintock High to figure out some of the logistics of Mountain Pointe’s semifinal game against Red Mountain.

All went well so Pride associate head coaches Eric Lauer and Aaron Frana and athletic director Mike Griffith headed back to Mountain Pointe.

The trip became so much more shortly after leaving the school parking lot as they came upon a truck upside down on the sidewalk near the intersection of McClintock Dr. and Southern Ave. just after an accident.

“Coach Lauer saw the truck first and said we had to help,” Frana said. “We got out and ran over to see what we could do.”

They stopped in the middle of McClintock. Frana and Lauer came up to the vehicle along with two other adults who were nearby while Griffith made the 911 call.

The driver was still in the vehicle, but was pinned in the vehicle, which was leaking gas. The two coaches and the other men pushed the pick up truck so it was upright and the man was OK.

“We didn’t do anything you wouldn’t do,” Lauer said. “The guy was OK. He had a prosthetic leg, and couldn’t get out the way it was. He had his seatbelt on so he was stable when we flipped it back to the right side.

“He was kind of in shock. The other guy really clipped him and flipped him over. He was pretty lucky.”

So many others just drive by slowly figuring someone else would help or make the 911 call, but they had the gumption to do something.

“It was a flashback to another time when I stopped and the driver was ejected, and didn’t make it” Lauer said. “It’s reminder of how quickly things like this can happen. Car accidents like this make you feel so violated because you are supposed to be safe in your own little bubble. When you see something like that you just want to help anyway you can.

“It’s the principal of paying it forward. Someone does something good for you and in return you do something good for someone else.”

* Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda

Posted in Ahwatukee sports on Wednesday, November 16, 2016 12:41 pm. | Tags: Mountain Pointe Football , Eric Lauer , Aaron Frana , Mike Griffith

Monday 11/07/2016
Wallerstedt developing, Grover healing

Arizona doesn’t adhere to the Daylight Savings time change like the rest of the country, but don’t tell Nick Wallerstedt there isn’t something going with the clocks around here.

He went from the new player in the program, to being unable to play for five games, to being backup quarterback to becoming the starting signal caller for an undefeated and top 10 team in the nation.

The hands on the clock were spinning just as fast as he head.

“It felt like it took two seconds,” Wallerstedt said.

Everything certainly happened quickly for the Mountain Pointe sophomore but he said he is starting to feel a comfort level this week against No. 8 Desert Ridge that wasn’t there in his first career start, which happened to come against the Jaguars on Oct. 14.

“It was a little overwhelming, but I was ready to play,” Wallerstedt said of the first game against Desert Ridge, a 27-13 win. “When you have all of these guys around you, you don’t have to do a lot.”

It was clear that the play calling for Wallerstedt, who played mostly in the shotgun at Corona but is now under center at Mountain Pointe, was more conservative and why not with the offensive line and stable of running backs the Pride have to tote the ball.

“They just wanted me to manage the game,” he said. “We have a lot of great players.”

The last few weeks the passing game has opened up a little bit as the 6-foot-3, 180 pounder got more comfortable.

He has increased his passing attempts each week – from four against Desert Ridge to 14 in the season finale against Gilbert to 15 last week against Cesar Chavez – and the results have been solid.

On the year, Wallerstedt has 30 of 51 passes for 548 yards with four touchdowns with five interceptions. He also has rushed for 160 yards with two touchdowns.

“He has really come along,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “At first we wanted him to manage the game, and that’s all was needed, but now he getting more chances to throw the ball.”

Wallerstedt’s time at starting quarterback might come to end soon if the smile on Noah Grover’s face Monday was any indication.

He was put through a battery of tests last week and didn’t have any setbacks. His availability this week at this point is unknown, but should the Pride advance Grover, who broke his leg on Oct. 7, could very well take back the reigns of the offense.

“If I am ready to go and if I’m cleared, you better believe I will be ready play,” Grover said.

Until then Wallerstedt will continue to develop as quickly as he can.

“I’ve developed a lot,” he said. “I know the system better. I had to get used to it with a lot of snaps.”

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatkee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda

Posted in Ahwatukee sports on Monday, November 7, 2016 9:51 pm. | Tags: Nick Wallerstedt , Noah Grover , Mountain Pointe Football

Saturday 11/05/2016
Thatcher breathing easy after surgery

Nick Thatcher hit a plateau early in his running career that infuriated him.

Competitors he used to beat in middle school were passing him in high school cross country meets.

“It really sucked working extremely hard and not improving,” he said. “I had been pretty successful. I won the (1,600 meter race for Altadena at the Kyrene) Conference meet. After that I started to plateau and people were beating me.”

As frustrating as it was the Desert Vista junior also knew it was going to take drastic measures to get through it no matter how much he trained and followed the Thunder regimen.

He was born with pectus excavatum, which is a congenital disorder which causes the chest to have a sunken or “caved in” appearance.

It made it hard for his lungs to expand fully, pushed on heart valves, made breathing on runs more difficult and depleted oxygen uptake.

He couldn’t just outwork everyone to stay ahead of the pack. It didn’t matter if he trained constantly. There was certain limitations he’d never overcome.

The Thatcher family decided to have the corrective Nuss procedure surgery, which involves placing metal bars in the chest cavity, done on June 1.

“We honestly didn’t know if we’d get him back for the season,” Thunder coach Chris Hanson said. “He was a great runner when he was younger, but as it turned out he was running about 80 percent of what he could be. Not only did we get him back for the season, he became one of our top competitors.”

There was a time during his recovery just a short five months ago Thatcher had difficulty walking 400 meters without being winded after having two metal bars inserted in his chest cavity to expand his lung capacity.

That seemed to be ages ago, and not just a handful of months, on Saturday when he helped the Thunder to their third straight state cross country title.

“I was really surprised I was on the state championship team,” he said. “I was really out of it for awhile. Running at a 10-minute pace was exhausting.”

After continuous progression from “sitting in his house doing nothing” while continuing to being “awful when everyone else was getting better,” Thatcher was good enough to finish 14th in the Division I meet with a time of 16:30 which was good enough to be the Desert Vista’s fourth best runner on the day.

“It is so relieving,” he said. “To make it here has been amazing. Everyone has been so encouraging and I am so thankful for my teammates.

“For awhile I was like why did I ever have the surgery? Plateauing was better than what I am now (when he was on the comeback trail). I was sad and pretty much depressed for awhile.

"Now looking back I am thankful for it because it has made me a better runner. I am more resistant to pain and I can push through it knowing everything I’ve been through.”

* Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him Twitter @JasonPSkoda

Posted in Ahwatukee sports on Saturday, November 5, 2016 2:23 pm. | Tags: Nick Thatcher , Desert Vista Cross Country

Wednesday 10/12/2016
Pola-Mao nears Brown's school record

Mountain Pointe has been pretty secure at safety the last seven years as the careers of Jalen Brown and Isaiah Pola-Mao overlapped.

The Pride have had the one of the top, if not the best, safety in the state roaming the back half of their defense for seven years seasons.

Brown is getting the most playing time of his career as a wide receiver at Oregon while Pola-Mao attempts to lead the Pride to a state title in his senior just like the man before him.

“He was the man, and I looked up to him, but at the same time I wanted to be better than him,” Pola-Mao said.

They are both tall, lanky and had had a great ability to track balls in the air and it is no coincidence that they rank No. 1 and No. 2 in school history in interceptions.

Brown left after the 2013 season with 16 interceptions in his four years on varsity, and after last week’s interception against Highland Pola-Mao now has four on the year and 15 in his three-year career.

“I was looking at the record books when I first got here and I saw that one and I wanted to break it,” said Pola-Mao, who looks to be heading to a Pac-12 school just like Brown after this season.

Pola-Mao said one of the reasons he is able to track the ball so well is because of his time at wide receiver.

“I was always a receiver first,” he said. “So I just flipped sides on defense. In my mind set I am still a receiver and it’s my job to go and get the ball.”

Despite being a frontrunner for player of the East Valley and being one of the state’s top recruits, Pola-Mao has not received an invitation to one of the major All-American showcase games around the country.

He has seemed to brush it off after accepting an invite to play in the Polynesian Bowl in Hawaii in January. This will be the first year for the game, which will be held Jan. 21.

“I’m excited about it,” he said. “I’m proud of my heritage and this is a great honor.”

– Contact Jason Skoda at 480-898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda.

– Check us out and like the Ahwatukee Foothills News on Facebook and follow @AhwatukeeFN on Twitter.

Posted in Ahwatukee sports on Wednesday, October 12, 2016 5:08 pm. | Tags: Mountain Pointe Football , Jalen Brown , Isaiah Pola-mao , Polynesian Bowl


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