Ahwatukee Foothills News: Blogs


Friday 11/21/2014
Focal point - four things to be watched in MP-Chandler game

There was a time when I actually watched every single play of the high school football game I covered.

Now I see parts of plays with all the tweeting and updating social media (while doing quick math for semi-accurate stats) going on throughout the game.

If I had to guess I’d say I actually see about 10 to 15 plays a game from start to finish.

It’s the nature of the beast.

So when I get that chance to watch a play from snap to whistle during Friday’s Division I semifinal between defending champion and sixth-seeded Mountain Pointe and No. 2 Chandler here’s where my eyes are going to be focused.

1. Pride center Colin Lambdin vs. Chandler defensive lineman J.W. Windsor – These two got after it in the first meeting. It was clear by the end of the game they didn’t like each other much but I think there was a mutual respect. In between this game of leverage went both ways. Lambdin and company had a great first half. During the second half the Chandler defensive line showed a lot more resistance.

2. Mountain Pointe defensive back Paul Lucas vs. Chandler wide receivers Justin Jan and N’Keal Harry – The Wolves tandem made some big plays to get the Wolves back into the game against the 5-foot-8 Vidal Daniels and 5-9 Dalton Thorpe. Lucas made his debut last week at corner and performed well although to be honest I didn’t pay much attention to his matchups. I couldn’t take my focus off the Pride pass rush in the quarterfinals when the surge up front made Pinnacle’s Brian Lewerke very uncomfortable.

3. Chandler’s Bryce Perkins vs. the Pride’s front seven – Perkins had four touchdown passes for 194 yards and 11 rushes for 83 yards in the first game. The best thing Mountain Pointe can do is have ball control and keep the ball out of Perkins’ hands. When he does look out. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him run more this time around. Mountain Pointe’s front seven was dominant against Pinnacle. Lewerke didn’t stand a chance. Chandler has a running game that Pinnacle didn’t. It will keep Pride linebackers a little more honest instead of teeing off on blitzes.

4. The Pride line vs. Chandler defense – Much like last week when Lewerke said something on Friday Night Fever that was perceived as disrespectful by the Pride defense to get them motivated, the Mountain Pointe offense has heard all week how it scored only managed three points in the second half against Chandler. It didn’t matter that the offense ran for 410 yards in the first half and produced 42 points; just the Wolves shutdown the Pride offense. That has been festering all week long.

So there is where my eyes will be focused. Some of these matchups will also be keys to game. Now only if I could watch fully instead of catching a glimpse in between tweets.

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

Posted in Ahwatukee sports on Friday, November 21, 2014 10:16 am. Updated: 10:35 am. | Tags: Mountain Pointe Football , Chandler Football , Colin Lambdin , Jw Windsor , Bryce Perkins , Paul Lucas , Justin Jan , N'keal Harry

Wednesday 11/12/2014
Fairchild's daydreaming design becomes reality

GILBERT – Olivia Fairchild couldn’t hold it in anymore; not after nearly jinxing the Desert Vista girls volleyball.

She had to tell someone.

“I have a confession - I spent Sunday night designing (championship) rings online,” she said with a sly smile. “For awhile I thought I really screwed up and jinxed us.”

That’s because the top-seeded Thunder had to rally Wednesday to win the program’s first state championship as Desert Vista win the Division I state title after beating Hamilton in five sets at Mesquite High.

Desert Vista lost the first set for the first time all year, gave up 10 straight points to start the fourth set and had to go to fifth set for just the third time all year before knocking off No. 2 Hamilton.

“It’s all good now,” said a very relieved junior opposite hitter. “I know exactly how I want to design it.”

When told of Fairchild’s nearly dubious designing daydream others were dumbfounded, but not surprised considering the source.

“She’s been yelling about how we got to get that ring,” junior Hailey Harward said. “That’s who she is. She is confident in us and it’s not a big deal now.”

Thunder coach Molly West sort of liked the idea. Sort of.

“I didn’t know that, not sure it was such a good idea,” West said after she seemingly hugged anyone who ever played for Desert Vista after the win. “I can see her doing that, but I am glad I didn’t know about it.”

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

Posted in Ahwatukee sports on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 11:33 pm. Updated: 3:14 pm. | Tags: Desert Vista Girls Volleyball , Olivia Fairchild , Hailey Harward , Molly West

Monday 11/10/2014
Emergence of Tunnell pushes DV toward championship

A year ago the Desert Vista volleyball season was long over after getting bounced by in the quarterfinals.

Senior Jenna Tunnell watched it all unfold a year ago and did all she could from the bench

“Obviously, it was really difficult,” said Tunnell, who could do nothing but watch after transferring after her sophomore year. “You want to be out there with the team and working hard with them.”

This time around Tunnell, who played at Boulder Creek her first two years, is in the center of everything the Thunder do on the court as they prepare for Wednesday’s Division I state title game against Hamilton.

The 5-foot-11 setter/opposite hitter has helped take Desert Vista (40-3) as an interchangeable part.

She is quick and accurate with a set and brings plenty of power on the outside with a spike that will leave a mark.

Her versatility allows the Thunder to run an efficient two-setter system with Kirstyn Sperry, a Rhode Island commit, and Tunnell running the offense interchangeably with both players on the court at the same time.

Tunnell, who is going to play indoor and sand volleyball at Pepperdine next season, is first on the team in kills and second on the team in assists.

She has been so dynamic that she earned AVCA Under Amour All-America first-team honors despite the fact she missed a full year of high school volleyball.

“It was insane,” she said about the national honor. “Coming into this season I had to make a name for myself after having to sit out a year. I couldn’t believe it.”

The time away from the court helped her see the game from a different perspective.

“I got a chance to be a better teammate,” she said. “There are different parts of being a teammate. Everyone has their role whether they are starting or coming off that bench.”

All of those roles will be put to a test against Hamilton in the championship game.

“This is the year and we know much potential we have,” Tunnell said. “We have three players at every position and we just all want it. We have to maintain our level now or get better. We just have to keep doing what we are doing.”

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

Posted in Ahwatukee sports on Monday, November 10, 2014 10:54 pm. | Tags: Jenna Tunnell , Desert Vista Voilleyball

Sunday 11/09/2014
Anciaux returns from heart procedure to help Thunder to title

As the Desert Vista cross country non-participants went through their traditional roll call of names as the Thunder competitors toed the starting line at the state meet, there was one name that probably shouldn’t have been heard.

Instead “Matt Anciaux” rang loud and clear.

It was enough to get his heart rate going and thankfully that is no longer an issue.

Anciaux helped the Thunder to the Division I state title Saturday even if he was a non-scoring runner and finished seventh out of seven in the Desert Vista lineup.

That’s because it was just over a month ago that the junior returned to the team after having a procedure done on his heart.

He was diagnosed with Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) after an extremely rapid heartbeat while competing and other moments were enough to shake Anciaux.

The treatment called for a catheter ablation, which is a procedure used to selectively destroy areas of the heart that are causing a heart rhythm problem.

A catheter was inserted into a vein and threaded up through to the heart. There is an electrode at the tip of each wire. The electrode becomes freezing cold in order to destroy the heart tissue.

“It was scary at first, but actually it was a bit of a relief because we didn’t what was going on,” his father, Brian, said. “He would be in the middle of the race and his heart was going crazy.”

His blood was pumping pretty good on Saturday as he finished 39th in the race with a time of 17 minutes and 28 seconds.

“I was our seventh runner but I had a good view of what we were doing and I was pretty confident we were going to win,” he said. “It was a hard course, but it was fun and rewarding.”

It was a remarkable turnaround that didn’t get lost in the fact that Thunder made history by becoming the first big division program to win both the boys and girls state meet in the same year.

“I am so happy he ran along side of me out there and was one of my brothers on the course,” said senior Kyle Havriliak, who finished seventh. “No one knew if he was going to make it back.”

Anciaux did more than that, and just in time, too.

“Matt actually had to restrain any physical activity of any kind in the center of our season,” Thunder coach Chris Hanson said. “He came back for the (Desert) Twilight (on Oct. 3) knowing it would give him just enough time build the strength he needed. For him to come back out, finish strong and compete as well as he did is well beyond my dreams.”

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

Posted in Ahwatukee sports on Sunday, November 9, 2014 12:30 am. Updated: 6:59 am.

Wednesday 11/05/2014
DV's Tunnell, Byrne-Quinn earn Under Armour All-America honors

Two Desert Vista volleyball players earned some national recognition on Wednesday.

Senior setter Jenna Tunnell was named to the first team of the ninth annual Under Armour Girls High School All-America team.

Senior teammate Maggie Byrne-Quinn was named to the honorable mention team.

Each of the players on the First Team will be invited to play in the Under Armour All-America Volleyball Match & Skills Competition.

The event will be held at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla., on Friday, Dec. 19 in conjunction with the 2014 AVCA Annual Convention.

Requirements for nomination were that the student-athlete be in her senior year of high school, that she be nominated by her high school coach, that her coach be a member of the AVCA and that her individual season statistics versus all opponents for the entire season be entered into MaxPreps, a free service that aggregates and distributes data on high school sports.

Tunnell is playing her first year with Desert Vista. She had to sit out last season per AIA transfer rules after coming over from Boulder Creek.

She leads the Thunder in kills (276), is second in assists (442), second in blocks (80), third in aces (35) and fourth in digs (179).

She is committed to Pepperdine.

Byrne-Quinn, who is committed to Colorado School of Mines, is a 5-foot-11 middle blocker. She is first in blocks (90), second in kills (215) and is fourth in aces (34).

The Thunder moved up to No. 2 in the MaxPreps national rankings this week. They are No. 1 in the Division I state tournament and host No. 8 Mountain Pointe in Thursday's quarterfinals.

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

Posted in Ahwatukee sports on Wednesday, November 5, 2014 1:32 pm. Updated: 10:08 am. | Tags: Desert Vista Girls Volleyball , Maggie Byrne-quinn , Jenna Tunnell

Technology can help with college enterance requirements

A few weeks back I wrote a blog about that fact that too many athletes are far too gone with the grade-point average in the first couple of years of high school to get serious consideration for a scholarship as a senior.

It’s an epidemic really.

A lot of kids, not just athletes, flounder their first couple of years in high school for various reasons. Once they are in hole it is hard to recover.

And once they get wise they are unsure what they need to do in order to get back into good graces. College requirements are wide ranging and even more difficult to get a feel for when athletes start looking into NCAA clearinghouse eligibility requirements.

Turns out there is an cell phone app for that.

I got tipped off the BlueSpark App soon after the original blog and found out there is a way to keep track of their progress and requirements for every college.

BlueSpark provides step-by-step guidance from high school freshman year through NCAA, NAIA, or NJCAA college eligibility and funding.

Check out more at http://bluesparkapp.com/

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

Posted in Ahwatukee sports on Wednesday, November 5, 2014 12:05 pm. Updated: 2:44 pm. | Tags: Bluespark App

Monday 11/03/2014
Winter sports get underway with plenty of new faces

The winter sports season begins with tryouts and first day of practice today.

The theme of this winter might be all about transition as a good portion of the sports programs are ushering in new coaches this season.

Desert Vista has new coaches for boys and girls basketball and boys soccer, while Mountain Pointe has a new wrestling coach along with new coaches for boys and girls soccer.

The Thunder basketball programs have high expectations with Tony Darden (boys) and Will Gray (gray) while the Thunder boys soccer program, now led by former Pride girls coach Mark Wilson, always has the talent to be a top eight program.

Mountain Pointe’s wrestling has had a good offseason under Craig Brooks, who came over from Higley, while the soccer programs have turned to MP graduate Jazmyn Ledford (girls) and Mark Campbell (boys).

On the flip side the other programs have plenty of continuity as David Gonzalez (DV wrestling), Marvin Hypolite (DV boys soccer), Hosea Graham (MP boys basketball) and Trevor Neider (MP girls basketball) look to keep building on past success.

The same goes for the winter sports at Horizon Honors as Ernest Shand (boys basketball), Nate Agostini (girls basketball), Paul Ringgenberg (boys soccer) and Patrick Andrew (girls soccer) return for another season.

Each program has about three weeks of preseason camp before the regular season action starts.

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

Posted in Ahwatukee sports on Monday, November 3, 2014 11:10 am. Updated: 2:53 pm. | Tags: Winter Sports , Horizon Honors , Desert Vista , Mountain Pointe

Friday 10/31/2014
UPDATE: Leonard's availability in question, misses game

(UPDATE: Leonard confirmed he had mono before Pride's 55-0 win over. The hope is he misses one more game, depending on if spleen is swollen).

The Mountain Pointe offense might have a much different look in the postseason.

Leading rusher Brandyn Leonard is out for Friday’s game against Dobson.  

Early in the week it was thought to be mono. If that is the case it will likely keep him out for a few weeks, if not the rest of the season.

Leonard has 1,093 yards on 117 carries with 16 touchdowns on the season.

The onus of the running game falls to Paul Lucas, who is just getting back to healthy and only has had double digit carries in two games this season, fullback Tyrek Cross and Ray Caayon, who has only been in the offense for a few weeks after moving from Hawaii in mid-season.

Lucas (643 yards, 5 TDs), and Cross (493, 12 TDs) have essentially combined to equal Leonard’s season total, but clearly it will hurt Mountain Pointe's running game to a certain degree.

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

Posted in Ahwatukee sports on Friday, October 31, 2014 6:00 pm. Updated: 10:44 am. | Tags: Brandyn Leonard , Mountain Pointe Football

Wednesday 10/29/2014
Farina, Lucas get selected for national events after the season

Make what you will of the season Alex Farina has had, but it got a little better on Tuesday.

The Desert Vista quarterback has fully admitted he struggled early on and he was eventually benched. It led to a loss of confidence, but he has clearly found his way back in recent weeks.

And far as confidence goes it may have never been higher.

Just a few days after the junior visited Northern Arizona, he received an invitation to the 2015 was invited to the U.S. Army National Combine in January.

It is held New Year’s Day to Jan. 3 at the Alamodome in San Antonio and features the nation’s top 500 juniors.

The Combine allows juniors to see how they match up against the nation’s best, and how much they must improve. Many have stand-out performances that set them on the path to play their senior year at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Modeled after the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, all combine tests and competitive drills take place in the Alamodome. Athletes receive apparel and gear at the event. In addition, athletes will receive lunch, bus transportation, and a ticket to attend the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Around the same time Mountain Pointe’s Paul Lucas will headed to Florida for the Under Armour All-America Bowl.

Lucas, who was given his jersey in a ceremony at the school on Oct. 2, is the first player from Mountain Pointe to be invited to the game and he will be joined by Pride coach Norris Vaughan, who will be on the coaching staff

The eighth-annual Under Armour All-America Game is Friday, January 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and will be televised live on ESPN2.

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

Posted in Ahwatukee sports on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 1:37 pm. Updated: 10:49 pm. | Tags: Alex Farina , Paul Lucas , Desert Vista Football , Mountain Pointe Football , U.s. Army All-american Bowl Combine , Under Armour All-american Bowl

Sunday 10/26/2014
Seeing the game from a different angle

I gotta say it was a first for me.

I tuned in to Arizona State-Washington football game on Saturday and I paid particular attention to every field goal and punt like each one was the biggest play of the game.

I didn’t really care if the Sun Devils used two quarterbacks or if they were going to need another Hail Mary to pull out a road win.

I was focused on the two long snappers both from rival schools in Ahwatukee.

Washington junior and Desert Vista product Ryan Masel is in his third year as the Huskies’ linchpin to special teams success while Arizona State walk-on freshman Mitchell Fraboni was handling the duties for Sun Devils.

It was a windy – read as an unnerving day for longsnappers – and brisk day in Seattle so it could have been dicey.

But from an untrained eye it appeared both players did their jobs quite well once again.

The Washington punter had his struggles but not sure how much of that fell on Masel, who is now under scholarship after heading there as a preferred walk-on.

Masel was given a chance at DV thanks to assistant Rich Camarillo, a former five-time NFL Pro Bowl punter, and he has taken full advantage of it.

“It was definitely something I never thought was going to happen,” Masel told gohuskies.com before the season, “having coaches come to my school and saying, ‘You’re the long snapper, right? We’re going to give you a call later.”

Fraboni was given a chance a handful of games into the season and has been performing well since.

In other words’ he is doing his job without anyone noticing which is what all longsnappers aspire to happen.

“If no one is saying my name, I know I’m doing something right,” Masel said.

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

Posted in Ahwatukee sports on Sunday, October 26, 2014 12:30 pm. Updated: 12:55 pm. | Tags: Ryan Masel , Mitchell Fraboni , Mountain Pointe Football , Desert Vista Football

[Sponsored] Terri's Consignment: Divorce the sofa


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[Sponsored] Terri's Consignment: Divorce the sofa

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