Ahwatukee football teams head into summer ready to roll - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Sports

Ahwatukee football teams head into summer ready to roll

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Posted: Monday, May 19, 2014 9:36 am | Updated: 4:02 pm, Thu Jun 19, 2014.

Three weeks of football activities are finished.

This short session of spring ball is handled differently by each coach and they tweak it each May depending on how the fall went.

Regardless of how it is approached the allotted time is always seen as a measurable gain by coaches.

So even if teams struggled to get through these three weeks the time tweaking, learning and bonding is a good spring board into the summer months.

“We’ve had probably our best offseason in years around here,” Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds said as he prepares to get the Thunder ready for its 14th season. “It has continued into spring. We don’t have maybe one single Division I recruit right now, but we have some good football players.”

The Thunder is coming off a disappointing 4-6 season with primarily seniors filling out most of the starting positions, so momentum is needed.

On the other side of the village, Mountain Pointe might have the most momentum in all of the state after winning its first state title with a 14-0 record that rarely saw the Pride be challenged after halftime.

The fall will see 14 new starters, but the new group coming through expects to have very little drop offs in 2014.

“We all came together and talked about how it is our team now,” junior center Colin Lambdin said. “We were part of something special, and that was great, but we want to have as much success as (the outgoing senior class) did.”

Pride coach Norris Vaughan wasn’t sure that was possible after the pace of a practice last week, but is pleased with the progress made heading into the 7-on-7 portion of the offseason.

“We were pretty flat and I wondered if 5-5 was possible,” he said. “I’m serious. They couldn’t do anything right. They got it going at the end and it was good to see them turn it around.”

Here is a look at what is known for each team 13 weeks before the start of the 2014 season:

Desert Vista

• The Thunder schedule has one change after the Brothers in Arms games in California wasn’t brought back so they will host Basha the first week of the season. A win over the Bears and the whole perception of the season changes.

• The coaching staff got stronger with the return of Tim Thies after a one-year hiatus. Brent Miller did a good job last year as a first-year line coach, but Thies has been a trusty assistant for Hinds for a long time.

• T.J. Roberts has blown up. The junior running back added 15 pounds, hasn’t lost any speed, and will play some cornerback as well.

• The Thunder is going to reap the benefits of young players — quarterback Alex Farina, linebacker Saxon McDonald, defensive back Drew McIntire, lineman Adrian Perez — getting plenty of action last year.

• The availability of two players — Cade van Raaphorst and Johnny Johnson — was an unknown at the beginning of the week.

Johnson opened enrolled as a freshman from Maricopa and started at cornerback as a sophomore. He transferred to Maricopa, but hasn’t played any sports for the school. There has been talk about him coming back to Desert Vista in the fall.

Meanwhile, van Raaphorst, who has a scholarship to Duke in lacrosse, was contemplating his football future after the Thunder won the state club title in lacrosse.

Mountain Pointe

• The Pride will return to Las Vegas for the Barry Sollenberger Classic to open the season after using a win over nationally-respected Bishop Gorman last year as a springboard for success.

This time around Brophy will take Gorman on Friday, Aug. 22 while Mountain Pointe will play big-school state runner-up Reed out of Sparks, Nev., on Saturday, Aug. 23. Both games are played at Fertitta Field on Gorman’s campus.

• The Pride’s offensive line and running back depth will be the strength. Vaughan has said the unit — led by Nick Carman, Clayton Dry and Lambdin — could be the best he’s had in his time at Mountain Pointe.

The benefactors should by juniors Brandyn Leonard, Paul Lucas and Tyrek Cross, a move-in from Minnesota, to form a similar three-headed monster the Pride had last year with Leonard, Lucas and Wesley Payne.

• The defense will be anchored by linebackers Austin Cronen and Keondre Churchwell while players like Davonte Roach, Austin Pogue and Bruce Hester will step into prominent roles after seeing quality minutes last year.

• The Pride will be among the preseason favorites in Division I with Chandler and Hamilton. There is a good chance they’ll make another run to the semifinals (four times in the last five seasons).

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

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Jason P. Skoda
  • Jason P. Skoda
  • Sports writer
  • Resident sports writer at the Ahwatukee Foothills News

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