Players to Watch: Florence

2 years ago Andrew Luberda 1

The Florence football team did not begin its season as scheduled during Zero Week, as Santa Rita cancelled on the Gophers due to a lack of players. As a result, the 3A Central Region contenders will officially open their season in Week One versus Youngker. Here’s a look at three Gophers to watch this season under the Friday Night Lights.


Jared Wood (Sr), Quarterback – 6’3” 195

 Wood is the reigning Central Region Offensive Player of the Year, meaning he could end this season as the two-time Central Region Offensive Player of the Year. He passed for nearly 3,000 yards a year ago with 37 touchdowns and only seven picks, a touchdown-to-interception ratio of better than five-to-one. The Gophers’ three-year varsity starting quarterback is poised to make his last year the best one.

Florence head coach Scott Howard:  “Jared is the heart and soul of the 2017 football team. He threw for 2800 yards and 37 Td (last season). He has developed his leadership in the off-season. Jared is one of the best quarterbacks in Arizona.”


Nolan Susel (Sr), Running Back/Strong Safety – 5’10” 185

 Susel is one of two Gophers named here who is a two-way player in addition to being named First-Team All-Academic and First-Team All-Central Region in 2016. A look at his numbers explains it all. A 4.5 GPA to go along with a team-high 1285 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns (18 rushing), which also led the team. Nolan was the Gophers’ third-leading tackler a year ago after finishing with 77 tackles.

Florence head coach Scott Howard:  “(Nolan is) one of the hardest working kids in the program. Nolan led us in rushing (and touchdowns) last year. He will have an even better year in 2017.”


Shelton Mathis (Sr), Outside Linebacker/Running Back – 6’ 200

Mathis is the second two-way playing Gopher who was named First-Team All-Academic (4.6 GPA) and First-Team All-Central Region last year. Make no mistake, Mathis’ biggest contributions will be on the defensive side of the ball in 2017. He led team last season in tackles (107), sacks (11.5) and tackles-for-loss (18). Shelton did rush for more than 300 yards and six touchdowns on offense in 2016, both second most behind Susel.

Florence head coach Scott Howard:  “Shelton is the leader of the Florence defense. He is going to have a great year as he becomes the Gophers’ enforcer on defense.”