So what is next?

Izzy Marshall has an idea.

While the Mountain Pointe senior linebacker was talking specifically about the Pride as he heads off to Arizona State in the fall, the sentiments are applicable to both Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista this offseason.

"We topped last year," Marshall said. "It makes me happy to walk away knowing where the program is at. And next year (the current) juniors have to top us. That's how you build a great program."

So the challenge has been made for both football programs in Ahwatukee Foothills.

At the very least, keep it rolling. Match the standard set in 2010. Or, better yet, surpass it.

With the amount of experience coming back and the depth of talent in the lower levels of both programs it is not farfetched to believe entering next season that they could be ranked in the preseason top five.

The Thunder, who lost 41-17 to Desert Ridge, will lose a bigger, heavier relied upon senior class, but they were hardly a senior-laden squad.

Both lines will be hit the hardest with Roman Villa, Jalon Bibbs, Cory Arnold and Nick Stravropierrrakos moving on. They'll lose leadership in tight end Sean Coffinger, toughness in fullback/linebacker Conner Fandino and too much to put in words in senior wide receiver/defensive back Mike Ingrassia.

It's unlikely any of these guys will go on to play big-time Division I football, but instead of that being an indictment it is more of a badge of honor.

"The last time (Desert Vista) went to the state championship, there was eight or nine D-I athletes," said Ingrassia, who hopes to keep playing in the Ivy League. "The next year, maybe three more (Division I athletes). Not one of our current players will play D-I, but we still had that kind of turnaround. That says something. It was 11 guys out there - together - fighting on every play. That's what this team was."

What they will be in 2011 is pretty stockpiled in athletes in the skill position areas and plenty of experience in the back end of the defense.

Quarterback Hunter Rodriguez, running backs Mike Arredondo and Dominic Kereluk and wide receivers Shaw Loomer, Kaleb Germinaro and Matt Smith will be better with a year's worth of maturity and growth while the line will be led by Zack Tamburo.

"We're two-deep in our skilled spots offensively, right now," Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds said. "So coming back, we're looking pretty good."

The defense will be anchored by Arredondo and A.J. Williamson at linebacker, linemen Detorrion Harvey, Spencer Schumacher will be strong up front while Smith, Ryan Wagner and Nick Farina are good defensive backs.

Mountain Pointe, which lost 34-10 to Chandler Hamilton, will have a roster just as filled with talent and experience.

The Pride will lose one starting offensive linemen in tackle Chris Carl, but the other four, led by Raynon Blackshire and Byrce Hurd, will be experienced players.

The skill positions will be nearly intact although breakout and record-setting wide receiver Garrett Holle and tight end TJ Holtrop will be missed, along with quality role players in running backs Zach Deitchman and Isaac Kartz.

Quarterback Kyle Faunce, who set the school's record for passing yards, touchdowns and completion percentage, will be back as are running backs Dillan Johnson and Thomas Warren along with the multi-talented wide receiver Jalen Brown.

Graduation hurts the Pride mostly on defense as end JR Plote, tackle Chad Papineau, linebacker/end James Withers, defensive backs Martin Moriel, Brandon Trotter, Raymus Bryant and most importantly all-state candidate Marshall move on due to graduation.

The defense will have to be re-shaped by with players like Mark Fraboni and Blackshire up front, linebackers Jordan Leal and Nick Griffin, who started in the playoffs, with Luis Sharpe, DeSean Griffin and Brown in the defensive backfield.

"We had some young players step up and fill-in," Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan said. "It will only make us stronger next year, but we have some work to do in the offseason."

While Desert Vista has run a similar system - fly sweep anyone? - all through Hinds' tenure, Vaughan showed a willingness to change things to pair up with personnel.

What it means for next season is hard to tell, especially with Arizona's shameless transfer rules and scheduling process, but there is no question that both of these programs will be prepared to take on the proposition of matching 2010's accomplishments.

(1) comment


Schumacher was a senior this year

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