The news was especially sweet to deliver to his grandpa so Hunter Rodriguez couldn't wait to spread the news to the man who had never seen him play live.

"He has been my biggest supporter," Rodriguez said. "He always asked me about football, how I was doing, who we're playing next. I called him all the time and we'd talk about football."

Rodriguez was named Desert Vista's starting quarterback last week after the team's scrimmage against Tucson Ironwood Ridge.

When he runs out to call his first varsity play Friday night at home against Tucson, Carlos Rodriguez will be in attendance after he recently moved from Lake Tahoe, Calif., and into the family's home.

"We are really close and it's going to be great to see him there at the game," Rodriguez said. "It was great telling my whole family that I was named starter, but I was really proud to tell him."

Rodriguez won over his extended family - the ones wearing the navy blue, white and Vegas gold jerseys - with his level of play over the spring, camp and preseason practice.

"I was surprised a little bit at how good he did," senior Mike Ingrassia said. "I knew he could do the job, but I didn't think he was going to be that good. As a wide receiver that's good for me and makes me excited at the thought of what we can accomplish."

The left-handed Rodriguez threw for 1,340 yards with 15 touchdowns while completing 56 percent of his passes at the JV level. He got a peek at the varsity game from the sidelines as a backup last season, but now he takes center stage.

He is a big-bodied, strong-armed pocket passer that will run an offense that is looking for an identity with several new faces cracking the lineup.

He feels comfortable running the entire playbook and is ready to take control of the huddle.

"If a quarterback doesn't run the huddle the offense is in trouble before a play is even called," Rodriguez said. "We came together and there is a trust there. We know we can get the job done together."

Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds picked Rodriguez over senior Harrison Hays and sophomore Matt Young.

"Hunter is a good leader and commands a presence in the pocket," Hinds said. "He can definitely see over the line and he has good vision."

The importance of getting on the field as a junior, producing and getting a highlight tape is important for any junior who plans on playing at the next level.

That will come in time for Rodriguez as right now he is happy to be getting the opportunity - and playing in front of his grandfather.

"It was huge for me to be named starter this year," he said. "I don't know where I'd be if I wasn't. Now I have to go out and show everyone why I won the job."


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