Desert Vista senior Sean Coffinger won't be pressed into action this time around.
Coffinger is ready to go on the road and take on Phoenix Pinnacle (1-1) tonight with his Thunder teammates and he is very happy to be doing so while playing tight end and defensive end.
He was expected to play a similar role in last season's 28-21 double overtime loss, but Coffinger had to take over at quarterback when the Thunder (1-0) had several players suspended just prior to the game, including then senior quarterback Cody Sokol.
"That was tough and frustrating," Coffinger recalled this week. "I was ready, but at the same time I was frustrated because I wasn't playing as well as I knew I could. It was short notice, but that is what a backup quarterback is supposed to be prepared for."
Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds estimates that Coffinger was taking about 20 percent of the snaps in practice, but knew that his backup would be prepared.
"He is one of those players that you know is always going to be ready, no matter the task or what you ask of him," Hinds said. "Sean did the best he could and that is all we could have asked of him."
Coffinger ended up playing quite a bit of quarterback on the season after Sokol sustained an injury the following week against Mountain Pointe and didn't return until the final three games.
Overall, he completed 53 percent (47 of 89) of his passes for 522 yards with four touchdowns and six interceptions.
Coffinger said he tried to pass on some wisdom to starting junior quarterback Hunter Rodriguez about what to expect and how to handle things.
"But he is so far ahead of what I ever was, I don't think I could tell him anything he didn't already prepare for," Coffinger said with a self-effacing smirk.
The hard part in taking over the huddle was that it took Coffinger out of his natural positions of tight end and linebacker.
"What bothered him the most, I think, was not being able to play linebacker but he didn't say a word," Hinds said. "He just did what he had to do."
This year began with another position change as he took over at defensive end.
"It is a lot different, but I like it," Coffinger said. "You have to know your assignment and stay within that assignment. At linebacker you were able to freelance more and just get the ball most of the time.
"At defensive end, you have to maintain your assignment and don't get too far away from it."
Coffinger's teammates thought so much of his unselfish do-whatever-is-needed attitude to be named a captain.
"That's what you want your senior year," he said. "We have a lot of young players. I learned the dos and don'ts from the upperclassmen when I was a sophomore. It's part of your job as a senior to make sure they know what it means to be a Desert Vista football player."
Coffinger has hopes of playing in college, regardless of the level, but doesn't have much tape for recruiters after last year's position changes.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder has the frame to develop into a college-sized tight end, and he showed his soft hands in the season-opening win over Tucson when he had a great catch down the seam for 27 yards, the team's longest pass play of the game.
"He can be a tough matchup for offenses," Hinds said. "Hopefully, he develops into a big part of our offense."
Coffinger said his background at quarterback has helped him become a more decisive route runner.
"I can recognize the coverage, a cover three or whatever, and know where I can go to get open," he said. "That experience is invaluable to me now. I didn't do as well as I wanted, but I am glad I had that chance."