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.

Were back after a two-week hiatus, following the start of the college & NFL schedules. It was a busy couple of weeks at Skyview Networks, but we’re ready to catch up now.

In this edition, we’ll discuss Poston Butte’s rushing attack, update the injury status of Combs senior Francisco Munoz and others, look ahead to a big 3A Central Region matchup, provide another update on the ALA-Queen Creek turf installation, reveal a new record-setting kicker, introduce a new column on the site, and show a video of Queen Creek quarterback Devin Larsen’s improved footwork.

Here we go, let’s walk the line…

Broncos Running Wild – In four games so far this season, Poston Butte has rushed for a total of 1,277 yards and 17 TD’s. The Broncos are averaging 6.4 yards per carry and nearly 320 yards per game. Here are their rushing numbers by game:

Week 1 vs Saguaro – 168 yards on 51 attempts. 3.3 yards per rush.

Week 2 at Combs – 504 yards on 61 attempts, 8 TD’s, and 8.3 yards per rush.

Week 3 vs Estrella Foothills – 350 yards on 51 attempts, 5 TD’s, and 6.9 yards per rush.

Week 4 vs Dysart – 255 yards on 38 attempts, 4 TD’s, and 6.7 yards per rush.

If those numbers by themselves are not impressive enough, consider this: The 168 yards against Saguaro were the most by any Sabercats’ opponent this season. Here are the rushing totals of the other three opponents:

Liberty (Henderson, NV) – 123 yds.

Helix (La Mesa, CA) – 92 yards.

Desert Mountain – 100 yards.

Nearly 80 percent of the Broncos’ offensive production comes from their running game, which includes four backs averaging more than five yards per carry – Carlos Roman (5.9), Khalil Cooper (7.2), Shane Landis Ku (7.6), and Zion Burns (9.4). Cooper is averaging more than 100 yards per game while Burns is next at 98.5.

By season’s end, the Broncos could have four running backs with 500 yards or more.

“Our offensive line and tight ends have been solid thus far,” Poston Butte head coach Dain Thompson responded when asked to what he attributes the rushing success so far. “Those players have been the key.

“We have had a different running back in each of the last three games who absolutely stepped up (his) game and carried the load, but the consistence of the line has been the x-factor.”

Combs MASH Unit – The injuries are piling up for the Coyotes football team. Combs head coach Travis Miller told CountyLinePreps.com his team is “down to 13 original varsity players active.”

Already without senior Francisco Munoz (knee injury) for all three games so far this season, the Yotes will not have him, in addition to running backs Cody White and Jordan Lee, for this week’s game against visiting Seton Catholic.

White and Lee have combined for 511 of the team’s 646 rushing yards and four of its six TD’s this season. Sophomore Joey Jensen will get the start at running back on Friday night.

“(Jensen) is more than ready,” Miller said. “He has been our starting free safety and is capable of handling the workload.”

It figures to be tough duty against the undefeated Sentinels on Thursday night.The return of the injured starters appears near, which could spark the Yotes when region play starts in a couple weeks against Dysart.

“We are hoping to have Munoz back for next week against Vista Grande,” Miller said. “We are hoping to have everybody back to be honest.”

3A Central Region Opener – When Coolidge visits Benjamin Franklin on Friday night, one team enters the game 4 – 0 and the other 2 – 2.

If you know the Bears are 4 – 0, you’re likely in the minority. Coolidge’s undefeated start is just as surprising as the Chargers’ entering the region opener for both teams at 2 – 2. The Bears defeated Sahuarita in double-OT last week on this play:

The Chargers have lost two-straight, largely due to the absence of five two-way starters who are out of the lineup with injuries. The new starters are improving, as evidenced by last week’s game, and Chandler Miles is always dangerous.

Benjamin Franklin head coach Dave Jefferies is not taking the Bears lightly.

“Coolidge is tearing it up right now and it is on fire,” he told CLP reporter Caela Fox after last week’s game. “They’re putting up points and they’re shutting teams down. I feel like we just have to get ready to go again.”

“Regardless of who’s out, we have to believe in what we do, we’ve got to go to battle with who’s healthy.”

Coolidge head coach Bill Godsil, who was selected by the Arizona Cardinals as the Wells Fargo Coach of the Week, believes his team can do more than just compete with the Chargers.

“We’re preparing for their double-wing offense,” Godsil told me this week. “If it’s just Chandler Miles, we’ve got to shut him down. If we shut down him, we’ll be fine. (We’ll) let their other guys try to beat us.”

The Bears are allowing 11 points per game. Their turnover differential is +10, which is one of the defensive unit’s two greatest strengths, according to Godsil.

“Our ability to get big stops (or) turnovers when needed,” the Bears’ second-year head coach answered when asked to explain the defense’s improvement.

The Bears will need their defense – led by CJ Valencia, Nathan Lucero, Abram Palacios, and Malachi Rodriguez – to continue to play against the Chargers at the level that’s helped them remain undefeated.

“If (we) want to be a championship team, (we) have to have championship defense,” Godsil said. “I challenged the guys this week. I said, ‘If you want to be the champs, you have to beat the best team out there,’ and right now Benjamin Franklin is the best team.”

 

 

Turf Monster Still Present – I wrote in the last County Line that ALA-Queen Creek hoped to play Friday night’s game against Yuma Catholic on their new field. That’s not going to happen.

“Continued frustration,” Patriots’ head coach Rich Edwards said in a text earlier this week. “Still having (an) issue with the sub grade.”

As a result, the Patriots, who play ALA-Gilbert next week, will play two-straight at their sister school. This Friday as the home team and next week as the visitors.

Simply the Best – Congratulations to ALA-Queen Creek kicker Talen Rider, who made 3-of-4 field goal attempts last week at Phoenix Christian, including the 17-yard game winner.

Rider, a 2018 Bucket List member, set the 3A record for career PAT and career field goals made in the Patriots’ 23 – 21 victory, according to head coach Rich Edwards.

For his career, Rider, whose father Dave is the Patriots’ kicking coach, has converted 154-of-163 PAT and 22-of-30 field goals.

Rider also plays soccer, which was his initial passion but, according to Edwards, he took a liking to football and has since “preferred football.”

The senior has a chance to parlay his new “preferred” sport into a free college education.

“(Talen) is being looked at by a handful of schools – Washington State, Wyoming, UNLV, and BYU are among them,” Edwards told me. “This is only his third year kicking and he has worked tremendously hard to improve.”

Welcome Angel Bandilla – I received the following DM on Aug. 3, 2018:

Hello, I am looking for volunteering as sports information director on Friday nights. Sports Information Director is my future career. I am planning to attend Mesa Community College in January 2019. I am wondering if you need a volunteer?

Remembering that I’ve received – and still do – some great mentoring and advice from media members that I consider among the best – Brad Cesmat, Eric Sorenson, Jordan Hamm, Jared Cohen, Haley Stesiak, Ralph Amsden, Chilly, Kevin McCabe and many others – I thought this is my chance to do for someone what others have done for me, including giving me a chance.

I knew @angle_bandilla7 followed us on Twitter, as we had communicated through DM’s previously, so I asked what he wanted to do. He shot off a number of ideas, but it was clear he liked research, wanted to be active on social media, and was passionate about high school football.

I asked him if we could talk “tomorrow?”

Angel responded, “For your information, I am deaf, but I can communicate with notes.”

I wasn’t expecting that, but it made me want to work with Angel even more.

Angel, who was born with a hearing deficit, is a 2018 graduate of Sequoia Charter High School, where he played football for three years for current Copper Canyon head coach Sean Freeman, who also follows us on Twitter.

I sent a DM to Coach Freeman to inquire about Angel. Here was his response:

Andrew,

This young man will be the hardest working person other than you. He is dedicated, studies very hard, and he is passionate about football. Angel was so loved by my players and coaches that we asked to get help sign language, so he wouldn’t feel like an outsider. One of my favorite kids to have coached, hands down.

We all should get such a reference for a job.

Angel and I agreed that he would write a weekly column – A Closer Look by Angel Bandilla – about any topic of his choice related to one of the teams we cover on our site.

He’s written three pieces so far, including this one, which is the first published on the site. The other two will follow soon.

Please look for his work at www.countylinepreps.com, and give him a follow on Twitter: @angel_bandilla7.

Larsen’s Fancy Footwork – One of the physical attributes Queen Creek senior quarterback Devin Larsen has worked most to improve during his three years as the Bulldogs’ starter is his footwork. The results from his hard work have never been more evident than this season.

If any college recruiters had concerns about Larsen’s feet on their first time around visiting the reigning County Line Preps Offensive Player of the Year, it’s about time they circle back around. I think they’ll like what they see.