The County Line

3 months ago Andrew Luberda 0

Welcome back to The County Line, my blog on news and notes surrounding the athletic programs we cover at CountyLinePreps.com.

I started visiting some football teams earlier this week, including Queen Creek, which held its first practice on Monday. On Tuesday, Chilly, of ArizonaVarsity.com, agreed to take #TheSideLineVlog on a mini CLP tour. We visited Florence, Poston Butte, ALA – Queen Creek, and Queen Creek high schools.

Peep the Gophers’ Vlog –>

In this edition:  I took another look at the football schedules of CLP teams, up-to-date scrimmage dates, times, locations, and opponents, three more Bucket List guys, and more.

With temperatures above 110°, try to stay “Chilly” as we move along the line…

More Looking Ahead – In the last edition of The County Line, I shared some observations on the schedules of Poston Butte, ALA – QC, and Benjamin Franklin. Here are few more:

Queen Creek:  I’ve noticed many people – both inside and outside the football program – are quick to single out the Bulldogs’ Week One tilt at Chandler for one reason or another.

Not so fast.

The Zero Week season opener versus Westwood is the only game the Bulldogs’ are – and should be – focused on, according to head coach Travis Schureman.

“Our focus is solely on Westwood,” he said. “It gives us more than enough concern. We can’t afford to look past any opponent.”

After the Warriors is defending 6A State Champion Chandler, and it remains a grind after that, as the Bulldogs play six of their final eight games against 6A playoff teams from a year ago.

One of those games comes in Week Three against visiting Mesa Mountain View, Schureman’s alma mater, where he and offensive coordinator Joe Germaine won a state championship.

Week-to-week preparation during the regular season is likely where the Bulldogs will experience some differences than past years.

“The last few years we’ve played a lot of 6A teams, expecting (to make the move up from 5A), Schureman recently told CountyLinePreps.com. “The big changes that we’ll see will be during the season. As we get into the meat of the schedule we might do some things different practice-wise.

“I know our boys are excited about the opportunity and they’re going about it as business as usual.”

San Tan Foothills:  Last year’s 2A Metro East Region Champion Sabercats are competing this year in the 3A Central Region, arguably the toughest region – top-to-bottom and regardless of conference – in the state.

The Cats will play 2017 2A State Runner-Up Santa Cruz and Gilbert Christian, another 2A playoff team last year. Additionally, they’ll play region games against ALA – Queen Creek, Florence, and Benjamin Franklin, all of which reached at least the quarterfinals in 2017.

The Cats could surprise down the stretch, when three of their final four region games are against the teams mentioned above, but that might depend IF Metro East Region Offensive Player of the Year Amahri Bailey (Jr – RB/LB) is eligible for the final five games after sitting out for transferring (more on that later).

Florence:  The Gophers will be tested early. They open their season on Aug. 24 at Page, the first of three-straight games against playoff teams from a year ago, including two on the road with long trips.

After three games against non-playoff teams from last year, the Gophers play three more teams that reached the playoffs, including arguably their two toughest road games – at Benjamin Franklin and at ALA – Queen Creek.

“We look forward to the challenge,” Florence head coach Scott Howard told me. “Our kids are looking forward to playing some of the better teams in our conference. We feel if we can gain some confidence early on it could be a special season.”

I agree.

Bailey is a back, but is he back? – San Tan Foothills’ All-Region junior running back and linebacker Amahri Bailey transferred to Campo Verde in January and returned to STFHS before the 2017-18 school year ended, resulting in two transfers and a possible season-long suspension this year.

There is NO argument that with Bailey, who totaled over 1,600 rushing yards and 29 TD’s a year ago, in the fold – even for just five games – the Sabercats’ chance at success exponentially increases. I believe he is a dynamic player that deserves as much hype as any running back in the region.

 

What’s Bailey’s status?

I recently spoke with STFHS athletic director Rick Romero, who confirmed at least a five-game suspension. He added that the paperwork to file an appeal for the second transfer-induced suspension was in process, and he was optimistic that Bailey could be ruled eligible for the most difficult stretch of the Cats’ schedule.

There might me some precedent here.

Last year, a very similar – almost exact – scenario played out with a player who transferred from one CLP school to another and back in the second semester of 2015-16 school year. The unnamed player, like Bailey, did NOT participate in any athletic programs at the “transfer” school before returning to the original school. That player appealed and was ultimately ruled eligible for the final five games of 2017 football season.

Could there more involved in either case? Sure, but on the surface I can envision a ruling that allows Bailey to play for the Cats in 2018.

Scrimmage Schedule – Here is the most up-to-date details that I’ve received from CLP teams:

ALA – QC:  Aug. 10 at Show Low – 6 p.m.

Benjamin Franklin:  NO Scrimmage scheduled

Combs:  Aug. 8 at Bradshaw Mountain w/Page – 6 p.m.

Coolidge:  Aug. 9 at Tanque Verde – 7 p.m.

Florence:  Aug. 16 at Valley Christian – 6 p.m.

Poston Butte:  Aug. 9 at Vista Grande w/Casa Grande – 7 p.m.

Queen Creek:  Aug. 8 at Higley w/Saguaro & Hamilton – 6 p.m.

San Tan Foothills:  Aug. 9 vs. Bourgade Catholic – 6 p.m.

Why aren’t the Chargers participating in as scrimmage?

Here’s the response from Chargers head coach Dave Jefferies:

“We’ve decided not to participate in a scrimmage, sorry.”

No apology necessary, Coach. It’s your (3A) world.

My 2018 Bucket List (Cont’d)I started with three guys and added three more here. I’m ready to name three more in this edition.

My list includes players, in no particular order, that may or may not make other’s rankings or lists. Simply, they are players I want to see in person before the end of the upcoming season.

I’ve identified players for this year’s list, but I’m going to release the names a little different than past years. The changes include increasing the number of players named to 15. Additionally, I’m going to release the players, three at a time, in The County Line, before the complete list appears on CountyLinePreps.com

I suggest you be on the lookout for these players under the Friday Night Lights:

Omar Perkins (Jr), Running Back/Free Safety – Coolidge High School

6’

172

Omar Perkins. (Kelli Luberda)

A look at Perkins’ stats a sophomore won’t tell you why he’s on my Bucket List. In limited action last year, he totaled 185 all-purpose yards – 140 rushing and 40 receiving.

The two-way player finished with double-digit tackles, a pick and a sack.

Perkins will start on both sides of the ball in 2018 and will be one of the Bears’ top all-around players.

I visited Bears practice recently, saw Perkins.

He looks the part to me.

Go see for yourself.

Coolidge head coach Bill Godsil: “(Omar) has dedicated himself in the weight room this offseason and gained some size and strength. He is a slashing-type runner; has long legs that makes his speed deceptive and is not afraid of contact. He will be a two-way player for us, playing safety this year. During 7v7 work this summer, he has made great plays on defense. Offensively, we can split him out or use him as a passing threat out of the backfield. He is also emerging as a positive vocal leader on the team.

 Cade Mcafee (Jr), Middle Linebacker/Tight End – Benjamin Franklin High School

5’9”

180

Cade Mcafee. (Kelli Luberda)

What’s that? Mcafee plays tight end, you ask?

He does, according to MaxPreps, but who is it trying to fool?

This guy is a middle linebacker right down to his core. He possesses every trait any coach wants in a player who mans that position. Mcafee checks EVERY box.

He’s a leader in the huddle, on the field, off the field, on the sidelines, in the weight room, and he backs all up with great performance and few words.

As a sophomore, Mcafee led the Chargers’ defense with 107 tackles, an average of more than eight per game. Additionally, he had three interceptions and a pair of fumble recoveries.

To be fair, he did rush for 81 yards and two TD’s to go along with three receptions for 18 yards.

Actions speak louder than words…or stats.

I encourage you to see Mcafee in action at middle linebacker.

Benjamin Franklin head coach Dave Jefferies: “Cade was born to be a middle linebacker. He has great instincts and toughness. He works hard in the weight room and is second on the team when it comes to his max lifts, which is quite an accomplishment as a junior. He quietly leads by example and does the right thing in the classroom and on campus. I like to call him the “All-American boy next door.” (Cade’s) a great kid, (and I) can’t imagine Charger Football without him.”

Tucker Usher (Sr), Wide Receiver/Free Safety – Poston Butte High School

5’11”

162

Usher played in the Broncos’ final four games last season, missing the first six due to an injury that he talked briefly about here:

In a short sample size a year ago, Usher proved he’s a guy the Broncos can look to make plays after totaling 235 receiving yards on eight receptions with three TD’s.

Eight grabs, three scores?

That’s a TD every two-plus catches.

I’ll admit, I doubt Usher will repeat a similar ratio in 2018, but he is the Broncos’ go-to guy – a triple-threat who will catch it, run it and return it. Barring injury, he’s going to lead the team in all-purpose yards, without a doubt.

With the Broncos’ varsity roster size expected to total less than 40 players, Usher will be one of several two-way players on Friday nights.

Usher will make up for last season’s lost time in 2018, which means you’ll have plenty of chances to get a glimpse.

Poston Butte head coach Dain Thompson: “Tucker is a senior two-way (actually three-way) player. He will have a chance to return kick, plays free-safety on defense, and will be a utility athlete on offense. Tucker’s attitude and effort has been great in the offseason and he is healthy.”