Authors Articles byRaquel Hendrickson

Raquel Hendrickson

Raquel Hendrickson
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Raquel, a.k.a. Rocky, is a sixth-generation Arizonan who spent her formative years in the Missouri Ozarks. After attending Temple University in Philadelphia, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and has been in the newspaper business since 1990. She has been a sports editor, general-assignment reporter, business editor, arts & entertainment editor, education reporter, government reporter and managing editor. After 16 years in the Verde Valley-Sedona, she moved to Maricopa in 2014. She loves the outdoors, the arts, great books and all kinds of animals.

Kemo Akins tries for extra yardage at Sunnyslope, where he served as running back and wide receiver. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson


An episodic game that switched from slow-starter to barn-burner to heart-burner, the Maricopa High School football team lost a region game to Sunnyslope on Friday, 33-20.

After the Rams had fought to a tied score and seemed destined for overtime, the Vikings scored 13 points in the final 10 seconds. The loss moved Maricopa’s record to 5-3. The Rams are 1-2 in the 5A Metro region and in fourth place.

Maricopa had its hands full with Sunnyslope running back Xamoi Penn and wide receiver Tanner Hill. They did not help themselves with a sluggish start. To pile it on, the Rams’ top receiver, Jacob Cowing, nursed an injured hand much of the game.

“It took us a little bit to get going,” MHS head coach Chris McDonald said.

When the Rams did get going in the second quarter, they were already trailing 10-0. A strong kickoff return to the 31-yard line by senior Longman Pyne started an impressive scoring drive of less than two minutes. In the middle of it, senior Kemo Akins had a 35-yard run and, at the end of it, Akins grabbed a toss from senior quarterback Alec Smith and ran in from the 7.

The Ram defense completely stymied the Vikings in their next, brief possession. The Maricopa offense looked like it was in trouble, too, as time ran down and a sack put them at third-and-20. But Smith passed to Akins, who tumbled in for the score and the 14-10 lead at the half.

Sunnyslope used Penn to score from the 15 and take back the lead near the end of the third quarter. Having trouble getting past MHS defenders Edward Donaldson and Tylen Coleman near the goal line, the Vikings were in easy field-goal range. Instead they opted to go for the touchdown with a pass attempt.

Injury notwithstanding, Cowing made them pay for that, grabbing the ball out of the air and running all the way back to Sunnyslope’s 15-yard line. Soon after, senior running back Cameron Sanders took the ball in from the 10 to put Maricopa on top 20-17.

The Vikings answered with a field goal with 1:40 left in the game. The Rams turned the ball over on a controversial call after it seemed forward motion had ceased, and that set up Sunnyslope’s scoring drive, capped by Penn rushing for a touchdown on third down. It gave Sunnyslope the 27-20 lead with 10 seconds left.

That left Maricopa with a desperation play with 2 seconds remaining, a lateral that backfired when the ball got away. That would have ended the game in a loss for Maricopa anyway, but Sunnyslope’s Maurice Hayes picked up the ball and scored with no time left.

McDonald said he was disappointed in the Rams’ play.

“We thought we had a good game plan, and I think right out of the gate they (Sunnyslope) started playing harder,” he said.

Maricopa may be feeling the effects for a while. Cowing, who easily leads 5A Metro in receiving yards, may have broken a bone in his hand.

Next up for Maricopa is a region game at Kellis (5-3, 0-3). The game starts at 7 p.m. Oct. 20 at 8990 W. Orangewood Ave., Glendale.

Loren Aragon and his wife Valentina among some of his recent designs at their home in Rancho El Dorado. Aragon was named Couture Designer of the Year at Phoenix Fashion Week. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson


Clothing designer Loren Aragon of Rancho El Dorado is the first Native American to be named Couture Designer of the Year at Phoenix Fashion Week.

In the showcase runway show Oct. 7, Aragon’s ACONAV presented his latest designs from his Emergence collection.

“The whole night was a really exciting experience,” said Aragon, whose signature look is comprised of patterns from the pottery for which his Acoma Pueblo heritage is known in the art world.

The Emergence collection is based on the Acoma origin story of two sisters arising out of darkness, finding nourishment in spiritual and practical forms, planting seeds and bringing creatures to life and learning the ways of the world. Aragon’s designs incorporated themes of darkness, light, rainbows, lightning and rain with his original prints.

For the Phoenix show, members of Dancing Earth, an indigenous contemporary dance company from Santa Fe, New Mexico, performed choreography telling the origin story.

Aragon first participated in New York Fashion Week two years ago. He competed at Phoenix Fashion Week last year as an emerging designer and made an impression. But he can already feel the effects of winning the couture competition this time around.

This Aragon design incorporates a rainbow theme from the Acoma origin story.

“It’s really great exposure,” he said. “There have been a lot of responses from markets that want to feature my work in smaller shows and from the normal markets in L.A. and Phoenix,” he said.

Now he is looking for ways to expand and increase supply as requests come in for the ACONAV brand dresses. The current workforce is comprised of Aragon, his mother (seamstress) and his wife Valentina. The design and work space is the lower floor of Loren and Valentina’s two-story home.

ACONAV was one of 15 designers chosen from 300 applicants for the ninth annual Phoenix Fashion Week.

Brian Hill, executive director of Phoenix Fashion Week, said he was proud of the “detailed work and cultural vision” Aragon brought to the runway.

“His brand ACONAV is our new 2018 Designer of the Year, big things are soon to follow,” Hill said.

Aragon spent most of the summer on the Ronald and Susan Dubin Fellowship at the School for Advanced Research’s Indian Arts Research Center in Santa Fe. He had no time to unpack before he had to get his collection show-ready for the big event at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale.

As an emerging designer, Aragon was part of a four-month fashion boot camp to demonstrate his knowledge of design as well as the fashion industry.

The title earned ACONAV a prize of goods and services valued at $10,000 and “bragging rights,” as Aragon put it.

He is proudest of being instrumental of getting Native American fashion recognized on a big stage.

“It’s helping me achieve my goals,” he said. “I’m really happy.”

See photos from Phoenix Fashion Week’s Couture Night.

Pete Masiel prepares for an early-morning run inn Rancho El Dorado, a route he created last year to prepare for this year's Mud Run. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Pete Masiel is a “no-excuses” guy.

He’s 58 years old with rods in his back. He’s an ultra-cyclist, known to peddle 100 miles a day. He is fit and athletic.

Last year, he ran the Maricopa Mud Run for the first time. It was a rude awakening, thanks to Mayor Christian Price.

Price has created the “Mayor’s Challenge,” giving prizes to everyone who beats his time on the course.

“I thought it was really cool,” Masiel said. “When I heard about the Mayor’s Challenge, I figured, ‘OK, that will be pretty simple.’

“He kicked my pants off. It took me just under two hours to complete the course, something the mayor did in about 30 minutes,” he said.

For Masiel, the event became not a challenge for a day but a challenge for the whole year.

“I said, ‘OK, I’m gonna get you next year,” Masiel said.

Masiel recognized despite his endurance riding, he had not been a runner in a long time. He worked to change that. Over the succeeding year of training for the mud run, he became a marathoner and lost more than 25 pounds.

He started with the Veterans 5K last November. He walked the course. He tried the Santa Run 5K at Merry Copa and was able to jog the distance.

“It hurts my back, but it’s not killing me,” he said. “So, I decided to start running.”

By himself at Copper Sky, he ran his first 10K since the 1990s. He jogged through 14-minute miles. The effort caught up with him.

“I was so sore I could barely go up and down my stairs,” Masiel said.

Then friends invited him on a bike ride on South Mountain. Masiel forgot his cycling shoes. He was wearing his running shoes, however.

So, he ran the six miles to the towers and the six miles back. From that day, he started running regularly and is now part of the Maricopa Running Club.

He first ran a marathon-distance event on his own in April. In June, he ran in the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.

“I’m able to run now, and I’m a pretty good contender,” he said. “I always say, ‘Don’t write a check your butt can’t cash.’”

He crossed paths with Price and his training partner Matthew Reiter at Copper Sky, all three men getting ready for the mud run.

“He called over to us, ‘Mayor, I want you to know you’re my inspiration,’” Reiter recalled. “And we thought, ‘What is he talking about? Pete’s the inspiration. He’s awesome!”

After his back surgery in the ‘90s and before he got involved in endurance cycling, Masiel carried 265 pounds on his 5-foot-8 frame and was on the verge of a heart attack or stroke. Doctors cautioned him about strenuous physical activity because of his back.

But he turned to cycling, “pushed through the pain,” and got back in shape. He shed 30 pounds and then another 30. His running weight now is 185-190.

“I haven’t talked to my doctors about anything in years,” Masiel said.

A year after his humbling experience with the Maricopa Mud Run, he feels ready to take on the challenge anew.

“Tell me I can’t do something, I’ll find a way to do it.”

This story appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

MUSD Superintendent Steve Chestnut. Photo by Michelle Chance

By Steve Chestnut

The Arizona State Board of Education recently developed a new A-F letter grade system for all schools. As a result, all public schools in the state were given new letter grades based mostly on the results of the 2017 AzMerit state tests. For elementary and middle schools 80 percent of the new letter grades are determined by the state tests and for high schools 50 percent of the new letter grade is determined by the state tests. The new letter grades were released to the public on Oct. 9.

The 2017 letter grades for schools in the Maricopa Unified School District are:

  • Butterfield Elementary: C
  • Maricopa Elementary: C
  • Pima Butte Elementary: B
  • Saddleback Elementary: C
  • Santa Cruz Elementary: B
  • Santa Rosa Elementary: C
  • Desert Wind Middle School: D
  • Maricopa Wells Middle School: D
  • Maricopa High School: C

We are not satisfied with these letter grades and our goal is for each school to be A rated. To help us achieve that goal we have implemented four major K-12 initiatives in 2017-18. First, as a result of override funds, we have 50 additional certified staff this year making class size lower at all schools. Lower class size allows teachers to give more individual attention to students. Second, with override funds we are able to provide additional instructional technology to students to assist them with their academic work. Third, we have implemented new K-12 math curriculum materials and teachers have received professional development training concerning how to use these materials. Finally, K-12 teachers are now using a new “benchmark testing” platform three times during the year so student progress on the state’s curriculum standards can be determined. Teachers received training in how to use the new testing system.

At the elementary schools, the middle schools, and the high school additional things are being done to improve student achievement. Students in grades K-3 are using a new phonics curriculum to build student reading skills and teachers have received professional development training in its use. At the middle school level, two additional blended learning classrooms have been added at Maricopa Wells Middle School. The high school started Ram Academy for credit deficient juniors and seniors which will help to improve the school’s graduation rate.

We know that letter grades are not the only measure of a school’s success. We are also very proud of our excellent staff, the innovative learning opportunities we provide for students, our high quality fine arts programs, our outstanding extra-curricular programs, as well as the safe learning environment we provide at each school.

To learn more about the letter grades for the Maricopa Unified School District, you are invited to attend a Parent Meeting with Superintendent Steve Chestnut on Wednesday, October 18th. You can attend the 10-11 a.m. meeting or the 7-8 p.m. meeting. Each meeting will be the same. Both meetings will be held in the MUSD Governing Board Room located at 44150 W Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

Steve Chestnut is superintendent of Maricopa Unified School District.

Maricopa junioPhoto by Raquel Hendricksonr Jacob Cowing drags half the Apollo defense in Friday's home contest. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

A field goal and a safety were all the scoring difference as the Maricopa High School football team dropped a home game Friday to 5A Metro rival Apollo.

The evenly matched teams both had ups and downs in the seventh game of the season. The Hawks’ pressure on the Rams, offensively and defensively, enabled them to stay just out of reach and take the 33-28 win.

“I felt like we left some plays on the field,” Rams head coach Chris McDonald said.

Both teams had giant, break-away plays for touchdowns followed by drives in which they had no momentum at all. Both defenses had big stops and their share of quarterback sacks, but also their share of breakdowns.

When Maricopa most needed it in the second half, “we just didn’t have any fire power,” McDonald said.

Apollo took special focus on senior running back Kemo Akins, who, with the exception of a huge, 55-yard scoring run, was held to 4 yards per carry. Akins still totaled 124 yards rushing, keeping him in Metro’s top three for running yards with 843 this season.

Junior Jacob Cowing, already well ahead of any other wide receiver in the Metro region, added to his yardage Friday with eight receptions for 212 yards. That included a final-minute, 89-yarder that allowed the Rams to pull within five points of Apollo. In all of 5A, Cowing is No. 2 in total receiving yards (970), and statewide he is No. 3.

Cowing and Akins each scored two touchdowns against Apollo.

Senior quarterback Alec Smith threw for 237 yards and ran for another 14. Smith is eighth in the 5A conference in passing yards with 1,283 and seventh in total yards with 1,477. In 5A Metro, he is behind only Kellis’ Cade Peterson both in passing yards and total yards.

In Friday’s game under a full moon, Apollo struck first, scoring midway through the first quarter. Maricopa could not answer until 9:06 was left on the clock in the second quarter, when Akins ran the ball in from the 6. It was the only time the score was tied.

Apollo’s busy running back Ali Mohamed ran in from the 2 with 1:55 left in the half. Apollo also scored quickly in the third quarter to go up 21-7.

Starting from horrible field position on their next drive at just the 5-yard line, the Rams had senior Cam Sanders doing the grunt work to get the ball to their own 20. Smith threw a bomb to Cowing, who took it 80 yards for the touchdown. Maricopa went into the final quarter trailing 21-14.

Apollo managed a field goal after a nice goal-line stand by the Ram defense. Soon after, Akins grabbed the ball on the 45 and ran it all the way in for a touchdown, moving Maricopa within three points of the Hawks, 24-21, with 8:43 left to play.

The Ram defense again had to make a goal-line stand at the end of a time-eating drive by Apollo, but this time the Hawks were able to score on a third-down pass from the 1 to lead 31-21 with 3:12 left. Then they trapped Maricopa in its own end zone for a safety.

But Maricopa played hard through the last minute, something McDonald was most proud of.

“We didn’t give up,” he said.

Starting on the 11-yard line with just 45.7 seconds remaining, Smith tossed the ball to Cowing who took a route up the left sideline all the way to the end zone.

The Rams made one last-ditch effort with an onside kick, hoping to grab possession, but Apollo landed on the ball and took care of it for the rest of the game.

The loss put Maricopa in third place in 5A Metro behind Apollo and Sunnyside, which are both 2-0 in the region. Sunnyslope is 4-3 overall (compared to Maricopa’s 5-2 record), and happens to be the Rams’ next opponent.

Maricopa plays the Vikings Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. in Phoenix.

DeAnna Gonzalez. Photo by Mason Callejas

The fashion world is a head-spinning, flamboyant, artsy and often deluding place. And it can also be a career.

DeAnna Gonzalez certainly wants to make a career of it.

An 8-year-old student at Leading Edge Academy, DeAnna is already finding success in the cozy confines of child modeling. She has been cast in Arizona and Texas shows, modeling kids clothes for outlets that include J.C. Penney.

“My heart started freaking out,” she said of her first show. “But when I got on there, I just felt cool. And then at the second one I was just fine.”

DeAnna and her sisters ElyAnna, 6, and Alannah, 4, picked up on the fact their mother, Shelly Gonzalez, did some modeling in her younger days. They were naturally curious whether they might have the same skillset.

“When I would walk, if felt like I was on a real runway,” DeAnna said. “In stores, I’d just practice being a model. And my mom was like, ‘What are you doing?’”

Shelly Gonzalez has the three girls in acting classes with coach Cara Alvey, but DeAnna’s love is for the runway.

“Her passion is in modeling,” Gonzalez said. “She eats, drinks and breathes it, ever since she was 3 years old.”

DeAnna Gonzalez modeled in this year’s Kids Fashion Week-Phoenix. Alyssa Orr Photography

She was picked up by the Bazaar Models agency in Texas and was cast by the Young Agency’s Kids Fashion Week of Phoenix. Her younger sisters are also making moves get into the business at casting calls.

DeAnna said her modeling idol is Heidi Klum, who not only made a hugely successful career out of modeling but also turned her celebrity into a business.

At nearly 5 feet tall, DeAnna is tall for her age (her father Derling is 6-foot-6), which could be to her advantage if she wants to continue in the field. For now, she is in the moment when she hits the runway in the latest kids’ fashions in front of a crowd.

“I pay attention more to looking forward and not looking at the audience,” she said. “But when I look at the videos, they’re always staring at me!”

This story appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

DeAnna Gonzalez (center) strikes a pose with sisters Alannah and ElyAnna. Photo by Mason Callejas

Scott Kelly

In a very close vote, Scott Kelly was elected to the board of the Maricopa Flood Control District on Wednesday.

Only 36 ballots were cast. Kelly had 19 votes to Bob Marsh’s 17.

“I was really happy,” Kelly said. “It goes to show how important it is to vote.”

Recently, the law changed for flood control districts, now allowing only those who own property within the district to vote. Before the change, representatives of trusts, businesses or corporations with property in the district could vote.

Kelly replaces Owen Kelly, who was no longer eligible for the seat because of the change. The current board also includes Dan Frank and Brad Hinton.

Scott Kelly expects to be sworn in at the next meeting, which is Monday at 9 a.m. at the Villages Clubhouse. Though he hasn’t thoroughly perused the agenda yet, Kelly said he has an inkling of the ongoing conversation.

“I know they’ve had some things they’ve been going over with the Corps of Engineers,” he said.

Until Monday, MFCD is gathering Requests for Quotes on the removal of tamarisk (salt cedars) from the Santa Rosa Wash.


Kemo Akins (4) takes the ball from Alec Smith (14) in the Rams' victory at Ironwood. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Ranking seventh in 5A this season, the Maricopa High School football team came off a bye week to a rough start against Metro rival Ironwood.

In the end, the Rams came away with the 26-15 “completely ugly win,” head coach Chris McDonald said. The team sputtered out of the chute, often losing yardage to unfortunate execution and penalties, with even a 36-yard touchdown pass called back by a flag.

“From 2o to 20, we did a great job, and then we’d shoot ourselves in the foot with silly penalties near the goal line and took away 21 points,” McDonald said.

After junior Jacob Cowing took a pass from senior quarterback Alec Smith 62 yards for a touchdown, Maricopa went into halftime trailing 6-8.

During the break, they rallied themselves to return to Maricopa’s brand of football.

“We talked about how we need to relax and play our game,” McDonald said.

The chat was effective. The Rams scored on their first possession of the third quarter. A drive that started on their 35 culminated in a seven-yard TD run by senior Kemo Akins and a successful point-after kick by Josh Mendes. Immediately after, Ironwood fumbled the ball on its own 15, and Maricopa junior Tylen Coleman picked it up and scored. Mendes’ kick put the Rams up 20-8.

Ironwood was not finished, however. A 23-yard touchdown run put the Eagles just five points behind Maricopa with 4:11 left in the third.

But the Maricopa defense shut down the Eagles the rest of the night. Akins put the game away for the Rams in the fourth quarter on a 39-yard run up the left sideline. He was shoved across the corner of the end zone for the final touchdown.

“It’s nice that we’re in a position now as a program where we can still win not putting our best foot forward at times,” McDonald said.

Both teams had injuries, with the Rams losing junior Jimmy Cutajar for the game. He was taken to a hospital for treatment, but the coach said he sounded upbeat.

The win put Maricopa’s record at 5-1 (1-0). Ranked right behind them in 5A is Apollo, which is 4-1 going into tonight’s game. The Rams play Apollo next Friday.

“We need to improve,” McDonald said. “We’re not going to beat Apollo playing the way we did. It’s just not going to happen.”


Maricopa varsity volleyball celebrates its ninth win. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

After a hard-fought victory over Ironwood (1-11) Wednesday, the Maricopa High School volleyball team is undefeated in 5A Metro play. Outside of tournament competition, the Rams are 9-3 overall.

The win over the rebuilding Eagles – 25-23, 25-21, 29-27 – was tighter than it appeared on paper, with Maricopa having to recover from a seven-point deficit in the third game. Coach Jecksan Quinones called it “an amazing comeback.”

“They were down and they decided to come back and start fighting,” he said. “We had some trouble with players not getting to where they were supposed to be getting, but eventually they worked together and they accomplished what was my goal. I think this is the first time Maricopa beat Ironwood in three years.”

Hosting Wednesday’s match, Maricopa got off to a strong start in the first game, but Ironwood was no pushover. The Eagles came back and pressed the Rams to the end. Ironwood trailed the Rams in the second game, but came back and tied at 9-all and 20-all before Maricopa finally shook loose.

The third game went upside down at the beginning for the Rams, who trailed 9-16. With aggressive plays, they fought back to catch the Eagles at 24-all and then passed them the take the game and the match.

The Rams started the week with a five-game loss to Poston Butte and win over Apollo in straight sets. Last week, they ran through Apollo and Casa Grande.

They are 4-0 in Metro 5A play, tied at the top with Sunnyslope (3-0). Sunnyslope is ranked second in the state in 5A. Maricopa is ranked 19th. Sunnyslope is Maricopa’s next home opponent, Monday at 6 p.m.

“If we play the way we can, I believe that will be a very interesting game,” Quinones said.

The girls get set for the 5K at Copper Sky Sept. 27. Photo by Victor Moreno

The Maricopa High School cross country team is gearing up for the Desert Twilight in Casa Grande on Friday.

“This week is very important,” head coach Heather Abel said.

As the team comes off its only home meet of the season, Abel is expecting several runners to turn in personal records (PR) because of the high level of competition. Her runners agree.

“Friday’s a big, big meet,” said junior Alec Kramarczyk, who has become the boys’ team leader this year. “Twilight’s going to be awesome. I’m getting closer and closer to my PR just about every race. I think this is the one where I break it.”

Kramarcyzk posted that personal best of 17.47 late last year. He has been in the low 18s this season. He finished third in Wednesday’s meet at Copper Sky. Desert Twilight is at Grande Sports World.

Abel said this has been a rebuilding season for the Rams. While she thinks up to three of the girls could make it to the state meet, the boys need to improve overall to catch up with Kramarczyk let alone qualify for state. The boys’ team competed at state the last two seasons.

“We lost a few good runners this year and we’ve got a whole bunch of new ones, so we’re just training them right now,” senior Chet Carroll said.

This year, the girls are improving though still gelling as a team. Abel said sophomore Evelyn Corliss and seniors Megan Carr and Alondra Borbolla Gonzalez could compete at the state level.

The girls’ race at home Wednesday against Coronado and Mesquite went awry, with at least five competitors taking a wrong turn and cutting several meters off their route. The boys’ race was much smoother.

“It’s a tough course but it’s nice and flat, so it’s a nice change of pace compared to some of the hills we’ve been doing,” said Kramarcyzk, who finished third Wednesday.

Carroll ran his fastest so far this season in Apache Junction. “It was more running through the creek bed. it’s just mostly sand all the way,” he said. “That course I really PR’d on because I wasn’t focusing on me running; I was focusing more on the path. It was more of just a mental sport.”

He has been in the low 20s, and hopes to get into the 19s at the Desert Twilight.


The crane at work at Edison Pointe under clear skies. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Get ready for the return of high heat. According to the Nation Weather Service, Maricopa will have temperatures in the high 90s this weekend and into next week.

Today will have a moderate high of 94 degrees with mild breezes and sunny skies. The overnight low is expected to be 67.

Friday, the forecast calls for a high around 98 with east winds of 5-10 mph and clear skies. The nighttime low will be about 69 degrees.

Saturday, expect lots of sun and a high near 99. The low will be around 66 after midnight.

Sunday is also expected to be clear and hot, with a high around 99 and an overnight low around 65.

Monday is expected to an example of the rest of the week, with a high near 98 degrees and only mild breezes.

Phase 1 of the Apex Motor Club project involves the part of the property south of the wash.

Fresh off victories in court, the officers of Apex Motor Club were back before Maricopa Planning & Zoning Commission on Monday seeking a development review permit.

Private Motorsports Group, the limited liability company that is creating Apex, plans a private race track for high-end sports cars on the property at the northwest corner of State Route 238 and Ralston Road. P&Z voted unanimously to recommend the permit to city council.

“At this point, it is our plan to have it fully built out in three to four years,” said Jason Plotke, president of PMG and Apex.

The property is divided diagonally, southwest to northeast, by a wash. Phase 1 of the development will include much of the southern half. That will involve one race track, the parking lot, garage condos and access road with gatehouse.

There are 23 stipulations Apex must meet. Staff described the permit application as “substantially compliant” with the zoning code.

City planner Rodolfo Lopez said his department is not asking Apex to put in landscaping at this point. Instead, those requirements will be moved to the last stage.

Apex first came before P&Z in April, eventually acquiring a conditional use permit from the city council. That sparked two lawsuits – one from a political action committee and another from a resident – that targeted the council, the commission, Apex and city staff.

The suit filed by Maricopa Citizens Protecting Taxpayers went all the way to the Arizona Supreme Court, where it was denied. Pinal County Superior Court Judge Robert Olson turned away the suit filed by former attorney general Grant Woods on behalf of Bonita Burks for lack of standing.

Monday, Commissioner Ted Yocum questioned Plotke to clarify how the main access would operate. Plotke said members will have a gate card for quick access. During public events, visitors will stop at the gatehouse. Plotke said if there is enough guest traffic that it backs up onto State Route 238, “we would manage that.”

That could involve adding a temporary entry gate farther up the long driveway and adding security, he said.

Under questioning by Commissioner Bryon Joyce, contractors LGE Design Group indicated no construction would occur at night.

The development review permit next goes before the city council for final approval.

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Maricopa High School football team handily won its Homecoming game Friday night, 54-14, over North Canyon.

Head coach Chris McDonald said the Rams did to the Rattlers what Centennial had done to Maricopa the week before, and improved their mid-season record to 4-1 in the process.

The Maricopa defense held North Canyon (2-3) to 54 rushing yards and 122 receiving yards. Fumble recoveries, interceptions (Jacob Cowing and Ilijah Johnson), sacks, a safety (Stefon Nelson) and even the recovery of a bad punt hike in the end zone (Edward Donaldson) had the Rattlers back on their heels all game.

“We capitalized on their turnovers and took the wind out of their sails,” McDonald said.

Meanwhile, the Maricopa offense was firing on all cylinders. Senior running back Kemo Akins rushed for three touchdowns, including the first and last of the Rams’ eight touchdowns. Senior quarterback Alec Smith connected with junior wide receiver Jacob Cowing on three scoring plays, including two 80-yard bombs.

Smith, who again had more than 150 yards passing despite playing only half the game, also scored on a 28-yard keeper.

Maricopa did have serious issues on special teams, and mistakes McDonald warned the team could cost them games.

In the meantime, the Rams are relishing a blowout victory and a week off. This week is a bye for the team. The second half of the season, in which they take on all 5A Metro foes, begins Thursday, Sept. 28, at Ironwood (1-3) in Glendale.

Maricopa has outscored its opponents 181-113. After Ironwood, the Rams will face Apollo (3-1), Sunnyslope (2-2), Kellis (4-0) and McClintock (2-2).

See below for photos of Homecoming Night. For RamFest coverage, click here

Jason Thuneman of Global Water Resources talks to Planning & Zoning Commissioners (pictured Leon Potter and Ted Yocum) about expansion plans. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

With one dissenting vote, the Maricopa Planning & Zoning Commission approved the recommendation of an expansion request for Global Water Resources’ wastewater treatment facility.

Global Water had a previous expansion plan in place in 2006, but that “never panned out,” senior city planner Rodolfo Lopez said. Now the company has a new master plan that would allow the wastewater facility to treat about 60 percent more effluent.

“The retention area is being completed at this time,” said Jason Thuneman, vice president of project management. “We expect construction to be complete at the end of October.”

That is also when that part of the expansion is expected to come online, he said. Global Water has an industrial use permit for its expansion tanks worth $1.8 million. It will have two basins on the south end of its campus and four storm-water retention areas.

“The storm-water retention basins on the west side, those are always dry. In the event it rains, those are where the site will drain to,” Thune said. “The two basins on the south side, after we treat the wastewater and are ready to send it to a community, those are storage ponds – collectively 3 million gallons.”

Along with the development review permit request, Monday’s meeting included a public hearing on Global Water’s request to be rezoned general industrial to meet the new code.

Commissioner Michael Sharpe was not satisfied with the plans for the west border of the property, which neighbors a residential area. The Lakes property on the east side of Global Water is not yet developed, but Global Water completed a 1,200-foot perimeter wall there.

That east side is also to include a landscape buffer that does not exist along the west wall.

“I’m concerned about the number of residents along that wall,” Sharpe said.

Those residents are in the easternmost neighborhood of Rancho El Dorado, which backs up to the west side of Global Water. Sharpe said they would have to see the wastewater facility with no trees or other landscaping to hide the view.

Running along the Global Water side of the wall is a drainage channel rather than foliage. No landscaping is planned for that part of the property.

David Cisiewski of Land Development Consultants LLC describes the proposed Circle K property to the Maricopa Planning and Zoning Commission. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

A unanimous vote advanced a fuel station project in Maricopa at Monday’s Planning & Zoning Commission meeting.

Commissioners recommended a development review permit for a proposed Circle K at the southeast corner of Honeycutt and Porter roads. Representing the project, Land Development Consultants principal David Cisiewski estimated a late-winter groundbreaking.

The fuel station and convenience store, which already has a liquor license, occupies part of a parcel that was subdivided. Establishments that sell liquor must be at least 300 feet away from schools and churches. The closest school to the property is Sequoia Pathway Academy, which is outside the 300-foot requirement.

Because it is a corner lot at a busy traffic signal, senior city planner Rodolfo Lopez said, “Access has been a hot topic.” He said it would not be possible for southbound traffic to make a safe left-hand turn into the Circle K property because drivers would be interfering with the northbound left-turn lane traffic at the intersection.

According to plans shown to P&Z, the property will have right-turn-only entrances and exits on Porter and Honeycutt. Those two accesses will have triangular dividers preventing left turns. Added to the project is another driveway “arm” extending farther east to adjacent property and accessing Honeycutt Road without the right-turn restriction.

Predicting the future, Commission Chair Linda Huggins pointed out the number of parents who already make U-turns on Porter to drop off their children at school.

The convenience store is currently planned to be 5,881 square feet. The property is 1.8 acres.


Photo by Michelle Chance

Family Fishing Day
Our Lady of Grace Carnival

Copa Shorts Film Fest
Copa Color Run
MAC Farm Desert Ag-Venture Tours
Legacy Traditional School Annual Musical

Salsa Festival
Sun Life Chocolate Run
Annual Millar Fly-in/Car Show

Easter Egg Dive
MUSD Music-a-Thon
Maricopa High School Annual Musical
MUSD Art Walk

Maricopa Historical Society Golf Tournament
Memorial Day Commemoration

Dive-In Movie (Movies Under the Stars)
Summer Fun & Fitness Camps

Great American 4th
Native American Basketball Invitational

Kids Day Maricopa
MHS Rams Football Golf Tournament
RamFest Homecoming

Maricopa Mud Run
Mysterious Mansion Mayhem
Trunk or Treat Maricopa

2nd Saturday Maricopa Market
Veterans Day Parade

Maricopa Turkey Trot
Turkey Day Shootout

Masik Tas at Ak Chin
Maricopa Arts Festival
Merry Copa & Santa Run
Holiday Homes (and Businesses) on Parade

Visit for details on these and other community events!

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is one of the trips scheduled by M.O.R.E.E. this fall.

Maricopa Outdoor Recreation and Environmental Education (M.O.R.E.E.), a program provided by Copper Sky Recreational Center, has a full slate of activities set to go this fall. All trips leave from and return to Copper Sky. All participants must be at least 18 years old, and fees vary.


Cibecue Falls

A sweet hike and overnight camping are features of this trip to the Fort Apache Reservation, and hiking permits are issued through White Mountain Apache. The hike is a walk up a canyon along Cibecue Creek to the beautiful falls, which are 30 feet high. Be prepared for your feet to get wet and for climbing on boulders.

The trip is Sept. 15-16.

Canyon Lake Dolly Steamboat

This is a 10-hour daytrip to Tortilla Flat in the Superstition Mountains. Created by a dam on the Salt River, the lake has many boating opportunities. The steamboat ride allows for wonderful wildlife viewing and relaxing atmosphere.

The trip is Sept. 26.

Fossil Creek

An overnight backpacking trip to one of the most popular outdoor spots in central Arizona includes an eight-mile hike. The area is federally-designated as “Wild and Scenic” river with spectacular travertine pools and a waterfall. It was once home to Childs Power Plant, but the creek has since been restored.

The trip is Oct. 21-22.

Family Camping

Camp out while staying home. Copper Sky invites the community to spend the night in tents at the park and enjoy family entertainment like a movie, scavenger hunt and, of course, S’mores.

The event is Nov. 3-4.

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

A daytrip to the Payson area includes hiking of an hour or less (though they can be strenuous), a waterfall, pine trees, lots of wildlife, possibly the largest travertine bridge in the world, an observation deck and a historic lodge.

The trip is Nov. 7.

Desert Botanical Garden

A relaxing daytrip to Phoenix is both educational and beautiful. Besides the garden tour, there is a sculpture exhibit planned. Learn about desert plants and how to care for them, as well as birds and wildflowers.

The trip is Nov. 14.

Sonoran Desert Museum

The daytrip to Tucson will be chockful of animals, plants and minerals in 98 acres. The museum includes the Ironwood Art Gallery, with works inspired by the outdoors. It is ranked by as Tucson’s top attraction.

The trip is Nov. 21.


The annual tradition of festive holiday light displays, a polar slide and photos with Santa comprises this daytrip to the Phoenix Zoo. It is also an opportunity to learn about the animals who call the zoo home.

The trip is Dec. 5.


The final daytrip of the year is a visit to the historic town that sports the OK Corral and Boot Hill. Though surrounded by touristy vignettes, the town still has plenty of real history on hand.

The trip is Dec. 12.

This article appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

Maricopa High School Varsity Football Rams vs Centennial Coyotes Sept 8, 2017 | InMaricopa | Photographer Jonathan Williams

The Maricopa Rams did not become the first team this season to score a point off Centennial Friday. Instead, they suffered the same fate as the Coyotes’ earlier opponents, losing 44-0.

The result moved Maricopa’s varsity record to 3-1.

Undefeated Centennial, which is ranked No. 4 among all football teams in the state, brought a large crowd to Maricopa for the wind-blown game at Ram Stadium. Players dealt with flying dust and gusts so strong they had to hold the football on the tee for kickoffs.

Rams head coach Chris McDonald told the team afterward they will learn 10 times more from a loss like that than from a win. He also told them to mentally flush the game “down the toilet.”

From the start, Centennial was a gale force on its own. The Coyotes scored with less than a minute off the clock on a 60-yard run by Zidane Thomas. Thomas, whom McDonald called a “Division I running back,” scored again with 3:01 on the clock.

Maricopa, overwhelmed by the Coyote defense, fumbled the ball 14 seconds later, and Centennial’s Matthew Kudray took it in for another touchdown. The Centennial kickoff pushed the Rams back to their own 2-yard line, and the Coyotes forced a safety.

Centennial quarterback Ruben Beltran completed a 60-yard touchdown pass to Alex Escobar, and the Coyotes took a 30-0 lead into halftime.

“That first half we played about as bad as we could,” McDonald said. “I said, ‘Hey, I want the real Maricopa team to come out the second half. We’ve got that out of the way; let’s try to win the second half and build off of it and earn some respect.’”

For the second game in a row, the Maricopa defense spent a lot of time on the field and seemed to improve on reading what and who was coming at them as the game went on.

“They came out in the second half and did what they were supposed to do,” McDonald said of the Rams. “The way our kids competed that second half was really good.”

From the 6-yard line, Thomas scored for the visitors with 6:49 on the clock in the third quarter. A 50-yard pass to Escobar with 30 seconds left in the third resulted in the final touchdown of the game.

“Their quarterback, I think, did a really good job,” McDonald said. “Their line, for the most part, was what I expected. I was a little disappointed in us not being able to stop the run as much as I thought we would in the first quarter. I thought we would match up well, and we didn’t.”

In preparing for next Friday’s Homecoming match-up with North Canyon, Maricopa coaches will be putting more pressure on the offense, most pointedly the quarterbacks, to clean up mental mistakes.

“We’ve got to execute better when we play a team that’s just as fast as we are,” McDonald said.

Maricopa had senior Zion Saole back on the line but may have lost punter Kevin Coutre, who was injured late in the game.

Friday, the Rams are favored to beat the Rattlers, who are 2-2. The game starts at 7 p.m. at Ram Stadium.

Freshman Shakira Gillespie prepares to serve during a varsity volleyball victory over Glendale. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Playing three matches in a row this week, Maricopa High School’s volleyball team pushed through illness and overcame its first loss to build its record to 4-1.

Coach Jecksan Quinones said it became a lesson to all that they need to learn to adapt to change. Coming off the Labor Day weekend, he had hoped to fare better against an inconsistent Mesquite team. The Rams lost the Tuesday match in straight sets.

“It didn’t come out the way I was expecting,” Quinones said. “I had about six girls come back sick with cold, and once they got on that court they weren’t the same as what I know they can be. Wednesday’s game went a lot better.”

Wednesday was a 3-0 victory over McClintock on the road.

Thursday, the Rams hosted winless Glendale. The coach tried to get all his players some time on the court, even when the Cardinals threatened to win the third set. But it was another straight-set victory for Maricopa.

“We’re still getting over that sickness. It’s still a slow game,” Quinones said. “We can see how everybody still needs to learn how to work together.”

Maricopa is 3-0 in its section.

The Rams’ next match is Tuesday at home against Williams Field, and the girls are making it a special evening. They are joining other MHS student groups in gathering donations for victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. All students who attend school in Maricopa can get into the game free if they bring a donation. The varsity match begins at 6 p.m.



A physical battle was inevitable when two teams that have overwhelmed their competition so far meet on the football field.

The Maricopa High School Rams traveled to south Tucson to take on Desert View Friday and got just that kind of battle, and a clash with the referee crew into the bargain. Leaning heavily on the defense (Stefon Nelson had a particularly impressive night), the Rams pulled out a 33-20 victory.

“They played a helluva game,” MHS head coach Chris McDonald said of his defensive unit. “We kept them on the field too long because offensively we didn’t play particularly well in the middle of the game.”

McDonald blamed that on mental mistakes by players and himself and other coaches.

A strong start by the Rams set up the successful evening. Maricopa scored first after a lengthy series of running plays. Quarterback Alec Smith kept the ball and scampered in from the 24 yard line.

“They’re giving us five in the box still, so they were daring us to run,” McDonald said. “So obviously they thought that they would out-muscle us up front. It was good we just wore them down.”

Desert View scored a little more than two minutes later on a pass play that got away from the Maricopa defense. But the Rams came right back on two long runs by senior Kemo Akins that got the team down to the 8 yard line. Junior Jacob Cowing took the ball in from there. When the point-after kick failed the Rams took the 13-7 lead into the second quarter.

Midway through, a pass from Smith to Cowing took Maricopa to the 2, and Akins scored from there. Senior kicker Josh Mendes was successful with the PAT for a 20-7 lead.

From that point, the game disintegrated a bit. The Maricopa offense lost more yardage than it gained, and the defense was flagged for pass interference twice and a then a personal foul after the Jaguars finally scored again with 21.7 seconds left. The referees lost track of the clock and the number of time-outs, which led to lengthy discussions even after the teams had left the field for halftime.

“They didn’t have anything to say. What could they say?” McDonald said. “I told them I was displeased with what they were doing, and that’s all I could say. You know they’re not going to turn it around.”

For all that, Maricopa had the 20-13 lead.

The Rams’ defense did most of its work in the third quarter when nothing else was working very effectively. Seconds into the fourth quarter, however, the Jaguars scored to tie the game and raise the intensity another notch.

Akins scored from the 27 and Mendes kicked the PAT to push Maricopa on top for good with 7:03 left in the game. After Desert View was forced to punt, Akins again broke through the Jaguar line near midfield and ran for the goal line with Desert View’s speedy wide receiver Cam Denson hot on his heels and gaining. Akins took a flying lunge across the line as Denson was grabbing for him.

The exhausted Akins had to be helped off the field by teammates, and Maricopa was on top, 33-20. As the PAT attempt failed, a fight broke out on the field, with players pulled apart before it could build into a brawl.

Despite the high emotions and ongoing frustration with the referees, the Rams were able to hunker down and execute offensively and defensively through the end of the game.

“They understand what it’s about. They understand what we’re here for,” McDonald said. “We’re here to play football; we’re here to win a football game. They’ve worked too hard for it to allow all that other nonsense to overshadow what we’re trying to do here.”

Maricopa has won its first three games by a combined score of 127-56. The Rams host Centennial Friday at 7 p.m. The Coyotes are undefeated and have not given up a point.

Carli Rieman and Layla Gardner block a hit from Paradise Valley. Photo by Jonathan Williams

The volleyball season got off to a rolling start for Maricopa High School.

The Rams stacked up two wins this week, both in straight sets. They opened on the road at Vista Grande High School in Casa Grande on Tuesday and then hosted Paradise Valley Thursday.

“They came together,” head coach Jecksan Quinones said. “They’re right where I need them to be at. We’re running plays. They’re working. They’ve got the chemistry. They were amazing.”

They defeated the Spartans in overwhelming fashion, 25-10, 25-4, 25-14.

Freshman Layla Gardner had five kills to lead the team. Junior Carly Rieman had three kills. Freshman Ashley Brown served five aces. Freshmen Shakira Gillespie and Emily Thompson served three apiece.

Rieman also had two blocks. Brown led the team digs with 13, while Gardner had seven.

The 5A Metro match against Paradise Valley proved to be tighter affair, with the Rams defeating the Trojans 25-19, 25-23, 25-21.

“There are some plays coming down the road,” Quinones said. “So, we’ll be working on getting them faster and getting them jumping higher.”

After just two matches, Maricopa is the only undefeated team in the Metro section. The varsity Rams next play at Mesquite in Gilbert Tuesday at 6 p.m. 

The Rams take a break in the action to hear from coach Chris McDonald. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Despite some setbacks in Game 2 of the football season, the Maricopa High School Rams unloaded on Paradise Valley on Friday for 49-23 victory.

The Rams took the field missing a starting running back and a lineman, one for disciplinary reasons and the other for family matters. The situation put a lot of pressure on senior running back Kemo Akins to make up the slack in the first quarter.

“The first quarter was a whole different game for me,” said Akins, who was called on frequently for the heavy-hitting, short-yardage plays as well as his more typical sweeping runs through the Trojans defense. “We had to get guys to fill in and get the job done.”

Akins scored two of Maricopa’s seven touchdowns. He also fulfilled his duty as a team captain.

“We worked hard all week, and we watched them, and we were prepared,” he said. “I’ve been telling them three things: Focus, prepare and finish. And they followed through with that.”

Head coach Chris McDonald said the team knew the Trojans had a quarterback “who can sling it” in sophomore Ben Hanley. And the Rams fielded a backup safety and a sophomore corner.

“Once we made the adjustments, we played pretty well,” McDonald said.

After the Maricopa defense stymied the Trojans on their first possession, the Rams used Akins to move the ball downfield. Then senior quarterback Alec Smith threw to wide receiver Jacob Cowing, who took it 22 yards for the score with 7:59 on the clock.

Paradise Valley came back quickly, scoring about two minutes later on a 43-yard pass.

In the second quarter, Maricopa pulled ahead for good when senior running back Cameron Sanders scored from inside the 3. Paradise Valley managed a field goal to draw close, but the Rams executed an 84-yard scoring pass from Smith to senior Cameron Nissenson.

Maricopa led 21-10 at halftime in a game dragged out by several penalties on both sides.

“We battled through adversity, I can tell you that,” Smith said. “Once we got adjusted and just played our game, it all fell into place.”

The Rams started quickly in the third quarter with Smith connecting with Cowing for a 49-yard touchdown. The Trojans answered with a 23-yard passing TD, but Maricopa was right back in the end zone on a 4-yard run by Akins.

After an interception by Stefon Nelson, Akins scored again with 5:16 left in the quarter. Sanders ran the ball in from the 3 for Maricopa’s third straight score at the end of the third.

With most of Maricopa’s starters resting, the Trojans managed a passing touchdown with 17 seconds left in the game.

Maricopa had 610 total yards. Smith was 13-for-17 passing for 264 yards and three touchdowns. Sanders had 123 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Akins had 101 yards rushing and also scored twice. Cowing caught three passes for 84 yards and scored twice. Nissenson had two catches for 90 yards and a touchdown.

That gave the Rams the same 2-0 start they had last year before they ran into Desert View, a loss McDonald called a “hiccup.”

Friday, they will run into Desert View again. McDonald said the Rams will be “playing the revenge factor to the hilt.” The game is at 7 p.m. in Tucson.

InMaricopa photo

A man was seriously injured when the vehicle he was driving rolled over in the median of State Route 347 near milepost 181 Monday morning.

The accident happened at around 6:52 a.m. “for  unknown reasons,” according to Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Trooper Kameron Lee.

The incident itself did not block the highway, but the southbound lanes were closed to allow first responders to extract the driver and transport  him from the scene and to a hospital.

“His condition is unknown but does not appear right now to be life-threatening,” Lee said.

The road re-opened at 7:45 a.m.

The Maricopa High School varsity volleyball team is a mix of youth, talent and experience. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Supreme confidence is evident with this season’s Maricopa High School varsity volleyball team.

“I think we’re going to bring something amazing to Maricopa this year.” — Mackenzie Ford

The girls who fell just two points shy of making the playoffs last season have something to prove. Anchored by a group of steady seniors and gifted juniors, the Rams have set their sights high.

Coming so close, junior Carly Rieman said, “gives us a goal now. We have clear sight, so that’s our goal, to get that far and then next year – state.”

Coach Jecksan Quinones repeats often how excited he is about the upcoming season, which starts Aug. 29 at Vista Grande High School. The first home match is Aug. 31 against Paradise Valley.

“There’s a lot of experience on the court,” Quinones said. “They know the game. We still need to work on having them trust a little bit more in one another, but it’s going to be a good program. I’m very excited about this team this year.”

He’s not the only one.

“I am so, so excited,” Rieman said. “We changed so much about the program, and there’s so many new girls with amazing talent. So, I am really hyped for this year.”

The team’s three seniors like the camaraderie that’s developed within the 2017 edition of the volleyball Rams.

“We have a lot of good players and a lot of positivity,” Lissette Duarte said.

“Our team is very young, but I think we all have good team-bonding, so I think we’re going to have great team chemistry,” Teresa Delacruz said.

Jaylene Gosselin was on varsity her sophomore year and was team manager as a junior. This year, she’s back on the court.

“We have a lot of strong players this year. I think it’s going to be a good season,” she said.

Quinones has five freshmen coming to varsity, including 6-foot-0 Alexis Powell, but their talent might belie their age.

“We communicate with each other. We trust each other and we just know how to play with each other,” Powell said.

Coach Quinones said despite having only a week of practice under their belts since team selections, they are already running offensive plays. He estimated the Rams are a week and a half ahead of schedule in their development. Barring an unexpected setback, he is confident the girls will make the playoffs.

“This is supposed to be a great year,” junior Mackenzie Ford said. “We have incredible talent. We have a super-young team but a team that has good attitudes, good energy, and I think we’re going to bring something amazing to Maricopa this year.”


Aug. 24 5 p.m. @Valley Christian (scrimmage)
Aug. 29 5 p.m. @Vista Grande
Aug. 31 6 p.m. Home v. Paradise Valley
Sept. 5 6 p.m. @Mesquite
Sept. 6 6 p.m. @McClintock*
Sept. 7 6 p.m. Home v. Glendale
Sept. 9 8 a.m. Greenway Tournament
Sept. 12 6 p.m. Home v. Williams Field
Sept. 14 6 p.m. @Betty H. Fairfax
Sept. 18 6 p.m. Home v. Apollo*
Sept. 20 6 p.m. @Casa Grande
Sept. 25 6 p.m. @Poston Butte
Sept. 26 6 p.m. @Apollo*
Sept. 27 6 p.m. Home v. Ironwood*
Oct. 2 6 p.m. Home v. Sunnyslope*
Oct. 3 6 p.m. Home v. Kellis*
Oct. 10 6 p.m. @Ironwood*
Oct. 17 6 p.m. @Sunnyslope*
Oct. 19 6 p.m. @Kellis*
Oct. 20 8 a.m. Florence Tournament
Oct. 24 6 p.m. Home v. McClintock* (Senior Night)

*5A Metro competition

Maricopa High School Football vs Willow Canyon , 08-18-2017, Jonathan Williams

Scoring six touchdowns, the Maricopa High School football team won its first game of the season 45-13 over Willow Canyon Friday.

The Rams racked up 498 yards, 299 in a passing yards accumulated by quarterbacks Alec Smith and Devin Parady. The offensive and defensive lines made an obvious impact from the start, the O-line helping Maricopa to score on its first two possessions while the defense stifled the Wildcats.

Cameron Sanders, Kemo Akins and Jacob Cowing combined for the Rams touchdowns, with Cowing rushing and receiving to score.

“I think Cowing is an All-State caliber type kid, and they’re giving him one-on-one matchups, and our quarterbacks know what to do when that happens,” head coach Chris McDonald said.

Willow Canyon, a 5A team from the Northwest Region, found most of its effectiveness in the air, with 201 passing yards, but never threatened Maricopa. The Rams had the Wildcat offense under pressure all game. Junior tackle Tylen Coleman in particular seemed to be all over Willow Canyon quarterback Brendan Haynes to the point that McDonald was surprised he was still standing at the end of the game.

“The defense played awesome. For the most part they kept them off the scoreboard. They were put in two different situations in bad field positions where they had to respond, and the they did,” McDonald said.

Maricopa scored three touchdowns in the second quarter. It was 24-0 nothing before Willow Canyon got on the board with a passing play, but the Rams came right back with a 52-yard pass from Smith to Cowing to lead 31-6 at the half.

The Rams held Willow Canyon scoreless in the third while getting another rushing touchdown from Akins. In the fourth, Cowing ran in Maricopa’s final touchdown at the 5:20 mark to put the game away.

“It was a great team win, a really good team win,” head coach Chris McDonald said.

“Obviously we’ve got to clean some things up. We were misaligned at times,” McDonald said. He also wasn’t happy with the kickoff unit, which he called inconsistent.

Smith passed for 292 yards and a touchdown. Parady had 45 yards on one pass that resulted in a touchdown. Akins rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Sanders rushed for 37 yards and two touchdowns. Cowing caught eight passes for 275 yards and two touchdeowns.

Maricopa now prepares for Paradise Valley, a 5A Northwest Valley team that lost its season-opener to Verrado, 54-28. The game is in Paradise Valley at 7 p.m.

This story has been updated to reflect a change in day/time.

Alcurtis Turner. Photo by Dean Crandall

Six weeks of basketball training for kids in kindergarten through eighth grade is available in Maricopa starting Aug. 26.

Alcurtis Turner of Kids Basketball Association (KBA) is returning to run the camp he started in Maricopa in 2013. He is expecting 20-25 students. He limits it based on the number of volunteer assistants he has available.

“The first year I came down, we had 80 kids,” Turner said. “That was too much.”

The camp is Saturdays from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Pacana Park at a rate of $10 per session.

“They’ll basically be ball-handling, running, a lot of cardio, passing and shooting,” Turner said. “We end a lot of times on defense. I give them a little motivational speech to try to build their confidence up.”

Most players who come to his camps are new to the game, and he’ll be drilling fundamentals for them.

“It’s very repetitive,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll switch it up when they get better. You can’t move on to something else until you master what you’ve been learning. Once kids buy into training, it makes it easier for them play in the games.”

Photo by Dean Crandall

Turner was a minor-league basketball player, playing street ball well enough to join semi-pro teams in Arizona. He said a lot of parents of would-be basketball players do not know the amount of work and patience required to become good.

Participating in the KBA camp is not just about basketball. Players are expected to be involved in Turner’s community service Sundays, doing work like picking up litter or painting over graffiti.

“It’s not going to be easy. This is not an overnight process.” Turner said. “It takes time, but they will learn from the best to become the best.”


This story appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.


“Overall team speed is better. I think that we’re bigger and stronger than we were last year,” head coach Chris McDonald said of the Maricopa High School football team.

What: Maricopa High School Rams Football Season Opener
When: Aug. 18, 7 p.m.
Where: Ram Stadium, 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave.

The Rams start their season at home Friday at 7 p.m. against Willow Canyon.

The team has a new vibe after Maricopa’s first season in 5A Metro left them with a .500 record. The players talk a lot about chemistry, making it an important part of team-building with a mix of veterans, up-and-comers and new faces.

“Our chemistry for the team is really good this year,” junior center Jake Meyer said. “We’re all pretty much family-oriented.”

“Chemistry is like anything else, it’s got to be developed,” McDonald said. “We do a lot of team-bonding activities. I think the most important part is if the kids understand how it relates to having a better team, which in turn is going to give them a better experience and have a more successful season; if kids buy into that, that’s when it really starts to develop.”

The 2017 edition of the Rams is still not the biggest of 5A division teams, but they are quick. Two speedy running backs who made an impact on last year’s squad are returning. Cam Sanders and Kemo Akins are seniors and team captains.

In his own way, Sanders has become a virtual spokesman for the team, which is currently studying Willow Canyon.

“We’ve been preparing since the beginning of summer,” he said. “That was the only team we had our mind focused on. We take them a week at a time.”

Senior co-captains Cam Sanders and Taylor Belcher. (Not pictured Kemo Akins)

The Rams scrimmaged at Notre Dame Prep on Friday. McDonald called it a “vanilla” outing, but it was a chance to get up to game speed.

“It wasn’t just JV. That’s another varsity team,” Sanders said. “When I got hit the first time, I was like, ‘Yeah, we’re ready to play. I like it. It feels good.’”

While Sanders led the team scoring last season with seven touchdowns, Akins was second in team rushing yards with 283.

Senior Taylor Belcher, 6-foot-4, 230-pound linebacker, was also chosen by the team as one of the three permanent captains. Coaches choose a fourth captain for each game.

“I feel pretty honored that my team put my name in their votes to name me captain this year and walk out to the coin-flip every game,” Belcher said.

Injury caused Maricopa to have rotating quarterbacks in 2016. This season, senior Alec Smith has played his way into the position. Smith moved to Maricopa from Illinois in the middle of his sophomore year, after the football season. Though he had played a little quarterback during spring ball, he wound up as a tight end his junior year.

This year during spring ball, he was asked if he wanted to play quarterback again.

“I said, ‘Yeah,’ and then it just happened,” Smith said. “I’ve been playing quarterback like my whole life, so I pretty much still had it.”

Game 1 quarterback is scheduled to be senior Alec Smith.

McDonald announced Smith as the Game 1 starter.

“It’s his job to lose,” McDonald said. “He’s been with us all off-season and done a great job picking up the offense, and he’s getting better as a leader. [Senior] Devin Parady is a kid that came on late, if you will, in summer and is a kid who’s really started to blossom in pushing Alec, which is only going to make Alec better.”

A newcomer drawing notice, and not just for his size, is senior Zion Saole. After playing on an overwhelming, undefeated freshman team in Anchorage, Alaska, Saole moved with his family to Maricopa last fall.

“I would have played, but then I would have had to sit out for more than half the season,” said Saole, who is a 6-foot-4 lineman weighing around 330 pounds.

“He’s worked his tail off,” coach McDonald said. “He was about 380 pounds when we first got him in January. He’s lost almost 50 pounds. It obviously takes dedication to do that.”

Saole is only 16 years old.

McDonald said he’s passionate about the game and a “high-character kid.”

“The first week of school I had two different teachers already communicate with me what a great role model, what a great leader he’s been in their class,” McDonald said. “So that really speaks volumes about what he’s about. He’s kind of an old soul. He understands the big picture of things.”

One thing McDonald learned in the scrimmage was the amount of “mental-mistakes” cleanup that may need to be done. The players know it, too.

“We need to work on a lot of improvements, particularly myself,” senior Edward Donaldson said. “I’m also looking to go to college, and I need some scouts to come look at me so I can make it out. We need to work together better as a team, so better communication and better teamwork.”

McDonald is also concerned about the health of the team, calling them “banged up.” And while he pined a bit for some “prototypical, old-school throwback, tough football players” from last year’s team, he said this year’s Rams are still pretty tough, and they have an edge.

“I think they have a chip on their shoulder. I think they understand what’s ahead of them,” McDonald said. “They want to accomplish something. They want to get over the hump. We’ve always been a game here and a game there short of making the playoffs.”

Junior wide receiver Jacob Cowing has his long-term goals set there.

“I’m looking forward to making it to the playoffs,” Cowing said. “I think with our team chemistry this year, we can make it happen.”



DATE                     TIME                      OPPONENT

Aug. 18                 7 p.m.                   Willow Canyon

Aug. 25                 7 p.m.                   @ Paradise Valley

Sept. 1                  7 p.m.                   @ Desert View

Sept. 8                  7 p.m.                   Centennial

Sept. 15                7 p.m.                   North Canyon [HOMECOMING]

Sept. 28 (Thu)    7 p.m.                   @ Ironwood*

Oct. 6                    7 p.m.                   Apollo*

Oct. 13                  7 p.m.                   @ Sunnyslope*

Oct. 20                  7 p.m.                   @ Kellis*

Oct. 27                  7 p.m.                   McClintock* [SENIOR NIGHT]

*5A Metro

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Photo by Mason Callejas

The most expensive home sold in Maricopa from June 16 through July 15 was a two-story, five-bedroom house in Rancho El Dorado that went for $380,000. With one owner since it was built in 2002, it was on the market just over a month. It sold for $1,000 over its list price. The 4,000-square-foot home is on a 12,000-square-foot lot that overlooks the golf course and has a private pool.

1. 43304 W. Little Drive

Sold: June 24
Purchase price: $380,000
Square feet: 3,958
Price per square foot: $96.05
Days on market: 42
Builder: Hacienda
Year built: 2002
Bedrooms: 5
Bathrooms: 3
Community: Rancho El Dorado
Features: Three fireplaces, pebble tech pool with waterfall, patio, bedrooms on both floors, RV gate, three-car garage, surround sound, entertainment bar, granite countertops, water softener
Seller’s agent: Tamra K. Yelavich, Re/Max
Buyer’s agent: Brian French, The Maricopa Real Estate Company

2. 18359 N. Falcon Lane, Glennwilde, $335,000
3. 21841 N. Celtic Ave., Cobblestone Farms, $310,000
4. 44557 W. Garden Lane, Cobblestone Farms, $299,900
5. 20226 N. Madison Drive, The Villages at Rancho El Dorado, $299,000

This item appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

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Photo by Mason Callejas

The least expensive home sold in Maricopa from June 16 through July 15 was a short sale in Senita that sold for $110,000 in two days. Considered to be in fairly good condition but needing a little work, it has four bedrooms in its 2,275 square feet. The 5,000-square-foot lot has desert landscaping in front and dirt in back.

1.       43299 W. Elizabeth Ave. 

Sold: June 29

Purchase price: $110,000

Square feet: 2,275

Price per square foot: $48.35

Days on market: 2

Builder: Pulte

Year built: 2006

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 2.5

Community: Senita

Features: Patio area, laminate flooring, eat-in kitchen, two-car garage, basic amenities

Seller’s agent: Mario Beltran Espinoza, neXGen Real Estate

Buyer’s agent: Mario Beltran Espinoza, neXGen Real Estate


2. 40740 W. Sanders Way, Homestead, $125,000

3. 41158 W. Granada Drive, Glennwilde, $126,000

4. 41322 W. Lucera Lane, Glennwilde, $130,000

5. 36029 W. Velazquez Drive, Tortosa, $130,000

This item appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

A new club softball organization is hosting two first-time “friendly” tournaments in August dubbed “Maricopa Mayhem.”

Maricopa Sandlot fields fast-pitch 12-under and 14-under girls’ teams. The club launched in 2016 to give the girls more competitive opportunities, coach Michael O’Dell said.

The 12U tournament is Aug. 12-13 and the 14U tournament is Aug. 18-20 at Copper Sky Regional Park, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Sixteen teams are being accepted for each.

In both tournaments of Maricopa Mayhem, games start at 8 a.m. both days and are timed for 60 minutes. Saturday’s games will run into the evening, and Sunday’s games will end with the championship game in the mid-afternoon.

The team entry fee is $350. There will be a team trophy and prizes for first and second place.

The tournaments are for fun and sportsmanship and are not United States Specialty Sports Association qualifiers. O’Dell said he and the other parents have worked hard to recruit teams to participate.

“We’ve done quite a bit of legwork, and we’ve posted it on [a softball forum],” he said.

Maricopa Sandlot started with one team of 12 players in spring of ’16 as the girls and their parents were looking for stronger competition than they could find locally. The parents coached and formed a club with uniforms and logos.

After playing in the Tempe Lady Hawks Softball League, eight of the players went on to a higher level of competition, leaving the Sandlot with just four girls.

O’Dell thought that was the end of the experiment, but more parents approached him that fall and asked if the team was going to continue. They soon had enough girls for 12U and 14U teams. O’Dell said they plan to add 10U.

Maricopa Sandlot plays spring and fall seasons.

This story appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.