QC Football’s Ayala, Wooten Will Play at Next Level

6 months ago Andrew Luberda 0

Queen Creek High School seniors Jake Ayala and Jacori Wooten, two members of the Bulldogs’ football team, signed to continue their academic and athletic careers after next month’s graduation.

Ayala, a 6-foot-3½-inch, 240-pound tight end, accepted a preferred walk-on offer from Northern Arizona University, choosing to play for the Lumberjacks after considering several other scholarship offers.

“(NAU) was always a top choice for me due to the proximity to home, the city of Flagstaff, and the success they were building there,” Ayala told CountyLinePreps.com. “I had pretty much given up on trying to go there until they started to show interest recently.

“A big thing was they made me feel wanted and that they were excited for me to come up. The coaching staff is great, and I can’t wait to get to work for them.”

Jake Ayala (center) with Bulldogs’ coaching staff members (left to right): Coach Adams, Coach Schureman, Coach Watkins, and Coach Dobbs. (QCHS Athletics).

An All-Academic and All-CountyLinePreps.com First Team selection following his senior season, Ayala progressed during the season into one of the Bulldogs’ most reliable playmakers. After totaling five catches with one touchdown in the first five weeks of the season, he finished with 18 receptions for 353 yards, both third most on the team. His six touchdown catches were second to Garrett Duke’s 15.

“Jake represents the ‘QC Way’ in every aspect,” Queen Creek head coach Travis Schureman said. “He works hard in the classroom, on the field, and he gives back to the community.

“I think the best evidence of how hard he works on the field is him really becoming one of Devin’s main targets down the stretch. The number of offers he received also speaks for his academic performance. We’re excited to see Jake have the same success on and off the field at NAU.”

Ayala, who owns a 3.19 GPA, said he plans to study either Marketing or Exercise Science.

The soon-to-be Lumberjack believes four years in the Bulldogs’ program helped him earn this opportunity.

“I can’t say enough about what Coach Schureman and the rest of the staff did for me the past four years,” Ayala said. “They taught me so much on and off the field. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

“I (want) to thank Coach Adams for always pushing me in the weight room, and Coach Watkins for doing all he does for us recruiting wise.”

Wooten, a 6-foot, 160-pound placekicker, signed his Letter of Intent with Rocky Mountain College (RMC), an NAIA school located in Billings, Mont.

“I chose RMC (because) I felt at home while I was there,” said Wooten, who is entering the Pre-Law program at the school. “The team and the community really brought me in and I felt comfortable right off the bat.”

Despite nursing a nagging hip injury throughout most of his senior season, Wooten was still selected 5A San Tan All-Region First Team. He was a second-team All-Region selection following his junior year.

Last season, Wooten converted 40-of-44 PAT attempts – a 91-percent success rate. The injury affected his field goal attempts and conversions as he attempted only five, making two with a long of 32 yards. For comparison, he made 9-of-12 attempts with a long of 43 yards as a junior.

“Jacori’s hip injury limited his effectiveness and the way we could use him last season,” Schureman said. “When he’s healthy, he’s proven to be a reliable kicker.

“I think RMC will be pleased with his performance when he gets there. We’re excited to see him have remarkable success at the next level.”

Jacori Wooten (QCHS Athletics).

Wooten believes dealing with the adversity related to the injury will be a long-term benefit.

“(Queen Creek) really showed me what family is and how to deal with tough situations through love,” Wooten said. “It’s really made me a (stronger) person.”

Both players were asked what they’re most looking forward to as they enter the next chapter of their life.

“I look forward to building bonds with my new teammates and being able to compete at such a high level every day,” responded Ayala. “I look forward to pushing myself each day.”

Added Wooten: “I’m looking forward to the chance to compete and grow, not only as a football player but as an adult (too).”

No matter how far away they are, or what different directions they move, their Queen Creek teammates will be on their minds.

“I want to thank all my teammates for the past four years and all the memories we made,” Ayala said. “I’m going to miss playing with them, but I can’t wait to see all of us succeed.”