The County Line

2 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.

Well, here we are, back from nine days in Laguna Beach, and following the recent final stretch of summer workouts, 7 v 7 games, and Big Man competitions. Some teams are at summer camp as I type, which means practices are about to intensify and preparation for season openers is about to start in earnest.

A look at some schedules of a few teams we cover, three more Bucket List guys, a big-time offer for a Gophers junior, and more in this edition.

Let’s walk the line…

Congratulations – Just want to offer some quick congratulations to Chris Eaton (@GridironArizona) and ArizonaVarsity.com on their recent partnership. I have immeasurable respect for both media organizations, which are among the best for high school athletics coverage.

Looking ahead – I created a composite football schedule a couple of weeks ago, primarily as a tool to plan out my Friday Night Lights coverage. Here are a just a couple of my quick observations as I created it:

Poston Butte:  Count the Broncos as one of the teams, if not THE team, with the toughest challenge in its season opener – Saguaro.

Certainly, other teams around the state can make a similar claim but no other team is playing a five-time defending state champion in its opener.

The Broncos do play Combs the following week in a 4A inter-region game. I wrote last year about the Broncos and Yotes being natural rivals, yet they remain in different regions. It still puzzles me, but I’m glad to see both schools recognize the opportunity to develop the rivalry and schedule this game.

ALA – Queen Creek:  The Patriots had two open dates until head coach Rich Edwards, who had efforted since early spring to fill one of them, was able to schedule a road game at Monument Valley on Aug. 31. The other date will remain a bye week.

The Patriots, one of five teams in the 3A Central Region that we cover at CountyLinePreps.com, open against ALA – Ironwood. The Warriors are one of two former CAA State Champions and first-year AIA teams on the Pats’ schedule (ALA – Gilbert North is the other).

In addition, the Patriots host defending 2A State Champion Thatcher, and play four other playoff teams from a year ago.

Benjamin Franklin:  The Chargers’ schedule includes six 3A playoff teams and a 2A playoff team from a year ago, in addition to two former CAA teams that have recently won state championships:  ALA – Ironwood and ALA – Gilbert North.

If that isn’t a challenge already, consider Benjamin Franklin is playing its “home” opener in Eager at the Round Valley Dome versus Ganado on Saturday, Aug. 18.

Head coach Dave Jefferies admitted to me during spring practice that the schedule was intentionally designed to be difficult.

“Our schedule is a lot tougher than it was last year,” Jefferies told CountyLinePreps.com during spring practice. “We have our work cut out for us, no question about it, and I think our kids know that.

“The schedule has been amped up a little bit, purposely, and hopefully we’ve got what it takes to compete in those games.”

I’m already on record picking Benjamin Franklin to win the 3A State Championship, so my question is:

Do the other teams have what it takes to compete with the Chargers?

Leave it to the experts – For the most, I don’t follow recruiting very much. That’s for the experts, aka Ralph Amsden and Jason Jewell.

I asked Ralph for his thoughts about the recent Boston College offer extended to Florence junior-to-be Regen Terry, a 6-foot-4 230-pound defensive lineman.

“We’ll see if Regen Terry’s attention from Boston College, where his father is the Assistant AD for football operations and player personnel, spurs attention from other schools,” Amsden told me. “He’s certainly got the size and frame of an impact player on the defensive line, and he’ll have two years to put that size and frame to use. He’s definitely on my radar now, but he’ll also be on opposing offensive coordinators radars too, and they’ll be doing even more to try and stop him.”

I didn’t speak with Jason, but he tweeted the following:

When I saw Terry’s tweet I looked up his 2017 stats: 8 varsity games, 35 total tackles, including 13 solo and 22 assisted.

Modest numbers, I thought.

His size, though; You can’t teach that.

I sent a text to Florence head coach Scott Howard to ask about Terry.

“Regen is a special athlete,” Howard responded from Snowflake, where the Gophers were holding summer camp. “He is quick off the ball, has a huge wing span, and he has a great motor.

“He is one of the hardest workers we have. He battled some injuries last year, which limited his time. He went to a camp back east last week that BC was at. They love those intangibles.

“He drew some attention from the Arkansas also. I know NAU loved him up at the big man challenge a couple of weeks ago.”

I’ll need to wait to speak with Regen after Coach Howard informed me he took away the players’ phones during camp.

My 2018 Bucket List (Cont’d)I started with three guys – Joshua Maignan, Chandler Miles and Zach Jefferies – on this year’s bucket list in our last edition, and I’m ready to name three more here.

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:

Talen Rider (Sr), Kicker – American Leadership Academy – Queen Creek

5’9”

155

At one point last year Rider was the top kicker in the country, according to MaxPreps statistical listings. By the year’s end, he was the ninth best kicker in Arizona – regardless of division – second in the 3A Conference, and the best in the Central Region.

He’ll be even better this year, considering all the work he puts in during the offseason. Videos like this one are the norm for Rider:

While he was a modest 8-of-11 with a long of 43 yards on field goals, Rider was nearly perfect on PAT, converting 73-of-75. The Patriots put up a lot points via touchdowns, which limited Rider’s FG attempts.

In my opinion, Rider is one of Arizona’s best kickers.

Don’t believe me?

Go check him out for yourself.

ALA – Queen Creek head coach Rich Edwards:Talen has put an incredible amount of work into kicking. He has really been a student of the position. He also has a very even keel temperament. I don’t know that I have ever seen him get rattled. It is as though he thrives in pressure situations.”

Devin Larsen (Sr), Quarterback – Queen Creek High School

6’5”

220

I’m running out of superlatives to describe this guy.

Apologies if you’ve seen these numbers before but they bare repeating:

4,875 passing yards, 55 TD’s, 62-percent completions, only 12 INT’s in 500 pass attempts.

Those numbers were compiled in a two-year varsity career, so far, and with another a final season ahead, will likely reach heights that puts Larsen at the top of any statistical list. In my view, he’s greatest to play the position at Queen Creek in the five-plus years I’ve covered the Bulldogs’ program.

What more can I say to convince you that Larsen is worth the price of admission?

While I’m short on words to further illustrate what a special player Devin is, I do have two words for all the college recruiters out there:  OFFER HIM.

Queen Creek head coach Travis Schureman: “We’ve been fortunate to have Devin lead our team for three years. He’s a special player who works hard and sets an example for our players to follow. The success he’s achieved is the result of his commitment and dedication to continue to get better. We think his best season is upcoming.”

Francisco Munoz (Sr), Wide Receiver/Defensive Back – Combs High School

6’3”

185 

A midseason transfer from Chattanooga, Tenn., a year ago, Munoz sneaked into Combs and made an immediate impact during the final four games of the Coyotes’ season, finishing with 10 receptions for 226 yards and two touchdowns.

Oh, and he plays defense too, finishing with 11 tackles and a pick.

Combs head coach Travis Miller knows he has a player on his hands in Munoz and will find ways to utilize the senior playmaker’s tremendous skills.

Opponents will be forced to account for Munoz in every game.

I caught up with Miller and Munoz during the spring at Apache Junction’s 7 v 7 event, where Munoz’ two-way ability was on display: