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Maricopa High School

Brian Winter, a former athletic director and assistant principal at Maricopa High School, has been dean of students this school year but will again be assistant principal next year. Photo by Michelle Chance

By Michelle Chance

Maricopa High School will see changes in its administrative staff beginning in the fall. The current dean of students, Brian Winter, will reprise his role as assistant principal beginning in July, after previously serving that position at MHS five years ago.

His new position comes after the June resignation of Jesse Roth, one of the school’s two current assistant principals. Stephen Ybarra is the other assistant principal at the high school.

Winter said he is excited to return as an administrator whose main duties will be dedicated to curriculum and assessments.

New math curriculum will be implemented at the district in July when Winter transitions into his new position.

He said math is always a challenging subject for students, but he hopes the new curriculum “means that we can get the alignment in place so that when students come to Maricopa High School, they have a foundation to better build off.”

Improving test scores and the graduation rate are also on Winter’s agenda. The most recent data from fiscal year 2015 showed the graduation rate at MHS is 69 percent.

In order to increase that number, Winter said he hopes to assist in freshman readiness, to ensure the high school’s youngest students are prepared for the crucial academic years ahead of them.

Maricopa Unified School District to purchasing a new math curriculum this year.
Maricopa Unified School District to purchasing a new math curriculum this year.

“If we can get them off to a good start as freshmen, they’ve got a better chance to complete their requirements within the four years,” he said.

In addition to new curriculum, Winter will also be working with a new school calendar beginning in 2018. Among some of the changes include the expansion of fall, winter and spring breaks – extra time he sees as opportunities for students who have fallen behind academically.

“We are hoping to use those intersessions where we have two week breaks to possibly bring students in for re-teach opportunities and maybe credit make-up,” he said.

Winter has 29 years of experience motivating a variety of student populations in different settings and positions. He has worked as a coach, educator, athletic director and administrator – career experiences he said have shaped his philosophy as an administrator.

“I’m a servant leader and I want to be able to be able to provide support to students as well as staff,” he said.

After leaving MHS following his year as assistant principal and Athletic Director for the rams in 2012, Winter worked as an assistant principal and the athletic director for schools in the West and East Valley.

However, something keeps drawing him back to MHS.

“There is something to be said of Maricopa and it has just kind of grown on me for whatever reason,” he said.

Currently, Winter is interviewing candidates to fill his own seat as dean of students for the upcoming school year.

The position is largely responsible for ensuring the safety of staff and students and overseeing the team of four security guards at the school, as well as doing the bulk of student discipline.

“It needs to be a person who is thoughtful, patient and willing to build relationships certainly with students, but also hold them to a high standard from a behavior aspect,” he said.

Winter said he hopes to announce who that person will be by next week.

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Taylor Belcher, a junior, has been effective on the mound and at bat this season. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Midway through their season, the Maricopa High School Rams have an even record of 6-6 on the baseball field and are gearing up for region play.

Outside of tournament competition, the Rams are 3-1. In those three victories, Maricopa put up double-digits against the opponents.

After jumping all over Glendale 12-2 on Monday, however, Maricopa dropped Wednesday’s cross-county game to Vista Grande, 5-0.

“We’ve been playing some good baseball,” head coach Andrew Pollak said. “Today obviously wasn’t one of those days, but we had four games last week where we did some really good things. We had a good game Monday night. Today’s just one of those days.”

The Rams have more than a week to practice for their next game, which is March 23 hosting Mesquite. After that, all but three of their games will be against 5A Metro region competition.

“Our team is really young. Before today they’d really been playing solid,” Pollak said.

That is a point of pride, but he is still looking for strong leadership to emerge on the team as competition gets intense over the next month. The Rams play all region teams twice. That includes McClintock, Ironwood, Raymond S. Kellis, Sunnyslope and Apollo.

“We’re in a good spot. We’ve got to take care of our region,” Pollak said.

In Monday’s route of Glendale, Maricopa scored three runs in the first inning. The Rams followed up with five in the fourth and four in the fifth to claim the game via the 10-run rule.

Sophomore Nico Bandin had two hits, drove in three runs and scored three. Senior Marcos Cano was 3-for-3 at the plate and picked up an RBI. Sophomore Devin Fiala and junior Taylor Belcher both had two RBIs. Senior Jackson Stensgard had the team’s only extra-base hit, a double.

Junior Tyler Belcher pitched four innings, striking out nine, for the victory. Only one of the two runs scored against him was earned.

In Wednesday’s loss at home to Vista Grande, the Rams could not get anything started offensively and had some defensive mistakes as well.  The Spartans clung to a 1-0 lead through four innings before breaking out with four more in the fifth.

The Rams managed just three hits, a double from sophomore Malachi Hogg and singles from Bandin and Stensgard.

Carter Paine pitched five innings, striking out four and walking five. Taylor Belcher pitched two innings.

Overall this season, Maricopa is batting .322. That is led by Paine’s .459 average through 12 games. Cano is hitting .400, and Taylor Belcher is batting .353. Bandin and sophomore Renzo Silva are at .324. Stensgard has played in only the last four games and is batting .462.

Paine has pitched 19 and a third innings and has a 2-2 record with an ERA of 4.34. He has struck out 19, given up 19 hits and walked 16. Tyler Belcher has thrown for 14 innings, giving up 11 runs for ERA of 5.50. He has struck out 17 and walked 11.

Schedule/Record
Feb. 22-25    Pinon-Huffman Tourney
Tempe                   W     4-3
Higley                    L     4-10
Dobson                  L     5-9
Apache Junction    W    11-7
March 2        Sierra Linda           W    10-2
March 3        Desert Edge           W    11-7
March 8-11   Boras Baseball Classic
Corona del Sol       L    0-5
Prescott                 L    3-14
Centennial            W    8-7
Arcadia                  L    2-5
March 13      Glendale               W    12-2
March 15      Vista Grande         L     0-5
March 23      Mesquite          4 p.m.    Home
March 24      Ironwood*        4 p.m.    Home
March 28      Kellis*              3:45       Away
March 30      Casa Grande    4 p.m.    Home
March 31      Kellis*             4 p.m.     Home
April 4          Sunnyslope*    4 p.m.    Home
April 6          Verrado            3:45      Away
April 7          Sunnyslope*    4 p.m.    Away
April 11        Apollo*            4 p.m.    Away
April 12        Ironwood*       3:45       Away
April 13        Apollo*            4 p.m.    Home
April 18        McClintock*        4 p.m.    Home
April 20        McClintock*        4 p.m.    Away
April 21        Williams Field    4 p.m.    Home

*5A Metro

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The Maricopa boys track team placed fifth in the Aztec Invitational to start the season.

The Maricopa High School Track & Field teams will bring multiple state pre-qualifiers to their meet Wednesday at Notre Dame prep, carrying on with what will likely be a successful season for the Rams.

Head coach Sheldon Hutchinson believes his well-rounded athletes, several of whom have already qualified for state, are on the verge of breaking school records, while others are improving so fast they could be winning medals and breaking records in no time.

Junior Jesse Gaines ran a two-minute 800-meter run in last week’s Aztec Invitational in Tempe, coming within one second of the MHS 800-meter record at 1:59.

The Rams finished fifth out of 21 teams at the March 3 competition.

“I think both our teams, our boys and girls, have a lot of strengths,” Hutchinson said. “For the boys’ side of things, the strengths are going to be in the jumps.”

Three MHS jumpers prequalified for state at the Aztec invitational.

Clearing 22 feet 2.75 inches in the long jump, Phillip Austin is just one leg of the state-bound trio.

Seniors Darrell Handy and his brother Terrell are the other two pre-qualifiers, jumping 6-4 and 6-2 respectively at the high jump.

The brothers also prequalified at the triple jump with Terrell grabbing gold by jumping 44-9 and Darrell finishing fourth with a jump of 42-5.5.

As for the girl’s, Hutchinson said, despite being young, some are showing signs of remarkable progress.

“We have a lot of new [girl] throwers,” he said. “But they’re actually improving each time they throw.”

Though not qualifying for state, junior Leilena Young came in 15th out of 59 throwers in the shot put event at the Aztec Invitational, throwing 30-2.

The lady Rams also did well at long distance running, with Megan Carr finishing 46th of 65 in the 1600 with a time of 6:22.26.

Hutchinson had nothing but praise for his current roster, though he did indicate it’s proving hard to develop and retain track and field athletes because of an unfortunate competition between interscholastic sports and club sports.

“It’s always a struggle with so many club sports going on,” Hutchinson said. “A lot of our athletes just get sucked away because, of course, it’s a financial commitment they’ve committed to, so it’s hard to keep them in and keep them going.”

The girls and boys track teams will face off against Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale today at 4 p.m.

 

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Maricopa tennis teams are playing to win as new season begins.

The Maricopa High School tennis teams began their seasons Thursday at home against Desert Ridge.

Both the girls’ and boys’ teams changed divisions this year, a factor that could mean a much easier season compared to last year, according to girls varsity head coach Heather Abel.

“Last season we had the toughest schedule I’ve ever had as a coach, playing some of the top teams in our section, and really some of the top teams in the state,” Abel said. “So, I’m looking forward to this season, playing some teams that we can compete with.”

All six spots on the girls’ varsity team will be filled with returning players this year. Among those returning are Abel’s daughter, senior Bailey Able, in the No. 1 spot, and sophomore Blesha Romo in the No. 2 spot.

Coach Able believes the team developed a lot last season, something she hopes will reflect in this season’s play.

“I think with all of them, their confidence has grown. But I’m not sure if playing those [harder] teams helps or hurts that.”

For boys’ tennis, the opposite is true when considering their new division, head coach Paula Pavlosky said. Despite the team finishing with a 9-6 record in 2016 and most of those players returning, she thinks this year will be more difficult than the previous not just in terms of their competitiveness, but in terms of distance and frequency as well.

“We do have a few matches that are far away,” Pavlosky said. “We have some in Cibola, which is near Yuma, and we have them back to back so we have three matches in a row in one week.”

Returning to the court this year for the Rams boys’ team in the No. 1 spot is senior Matthew Dinh. Pavlosky has tremendous confidence in Dinh, calling him “the best out there.” However, she knows the dedication of her other athletes is equally considerable.

“They are strong and I know they go out there with all their hearts and play to win,” she said.

The girls and boys schedules are the same but complementary, meaning when the girls play one school at home, the boys will play the same school on the road.

 

MHS Boys’ Tennis Schedule
Feb. 23      Desert Ridge        3:30      Away
Feb. 28      Casteel                 3:30      Home
March 1      Combs                 3:30       Away
March 9      Higley                  3:30      Home
March 21    Casa Grande         3:30      Away
March 23    Williams Field    3:30       Home
March 28    Cibola                  3:30       Away
March 29    Tolleson               3:30      Away
March 30    San Luis               3:30      Home
April 4        Millennium          3:30      Home
April 5        La Joya                  3:30      Home
April 11     Westview              3:30      Away
April 13     Kofa                       3:30      Home

MHS Girls’ Tennis Schedule
Feb. 23       Desert Ridge        3:30    Home
Feb. 28       Casteel                 3:30    Away
March 1      Combs                   3:30    Home
March 9       Higley                  3:30    Away
March 21    Casa Grande          3:30    Home
March 23    Williams Field      3:30     Away
March 28    Cibola                    3:30    Home
March 29    Tolleson                3:30    Home
March 30    San Luis                3:30    Away
April 4         Millennium         3:30    Away
April 5         La Joya                 3:30    Away
April 11       Westview            3:30    Home
April 13       Kofa                     3:30    Away

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MHS photo

 

The Maricopa High School Lady Rams softball team is starts its 2017 season with a three-game home tournament Friday.

Roster
1 Hannah Hickey – Fr
2 Sydney McDill – Fr
3 Hope Barajas – Fr
4 Chantel Holquin – Soph
5 Caitlin Wilson – Jr
6 Andrea Harker – Fr
7 Kianna Miller-Gomez – Fr
8 Kielee Keys – Fr
9 Elaina Olivarez – Soph
10 Bailey Petty – Fr
11 Julliette Hawthorn – Sr
12 Kayla Occhiline – Fr
13 Kennedy Glen – Fr
14 Daisy Guzman – Soph
15 Stephanie Palafox – Sr
16 Sabrina Montoya – Sr
17 Andrea Gallegos – Sr
22 Joy Breul – Soph
24 Mikaila Hogg – Sr

Head coach Brandi Howell said her varsity line-up is somewhat young this year with only one returning player.

“It’s a whole new group of girls,” Howell said. “So, they’re definitely working hard, but we have lots to learn. Holguin [Chantel Holguin] is working hard and she’s really stepped up as a leader.”

Howell admitted one of the biggest challenges so far is the learning curve. With such inexperienced players, she has been working extra hard to teach them the ins and outs of the sport. The progress they’ve made, she said, is a great sign of things to come.

“We’ve come a long way from the first day already,” Howell said. “It’s like night and day.”

Howell believes the tournament is a perfect way for the relatively inexperienced team to pick up some hard knowledge of the sport before regular play begins.

“We definitely [still] have a lot to learn,” Howell said.  “So, we’re using these tournaments as a learning tool.”

The mistake that her players make are “young” mistakes, she said, but their ability to catch on quickly is tremendous and you just can’t beat real-time learning.

“There is no better time to learn than in a game,” Howell said.

The team is carrying a larger than normal roster going into the tournament – 19 players, a measure Howell is taking in order to help get some of the less knowledgeable players see the game up close.

“With us being so young we think its super valuable for them to be around the game learning these things,” she said.

The varsity roster will likely shrink to around 13 players after the tournament.

Holguin returns as a sophomore utility player and pitcher. Also notable is a recent transfer from California, senior outfielder and infielder Juliette Hawthorn.

The Lady Rams will faceoff first against McClintock at 9 a.m., second against Peoria at 3 p.m., and last against Higley at 5 p.m., all on Friday at Maricopa High School.


Krysten Diehl Tourament – Maricopa High School
Feb. 24     McClintock    9 a.m.
Feb. 24     Peoria            3 p.m.
Feb. 24     Higley            5 p.m.
Feb. 25     TBA                TBA
Feb. 25     TBA                TBA

2017 Schedule
Feb. 24-25    Krysten Diehl Tourney    TBA    Home
Feb. 28           Sierra Linda                    4:00   Home
March 3           Desert Edge                   4:00   Home
March 6           Glendale                         4:00   Home
March 7            Vista Grande                  4:00   Away
March 9           Williams Field               3:45   Away
March 15         Youngker Invitational    TBA    Away
March 23         Mesquite                       6:30   Away
March 24         Ironwood*                      3:45  Away
March 28         Kellis*                            4:00   Home
March 30         Casa Grande                   3:45   Away
March 31          Kellis*                           3:45   Away
April 4              Sunnyslope*                 4:00   Away
April 6              Verrado                          4:00   Home
April 7              Sunnyslope*                  4:00   Home
April 11            Apollo*                          4:00   Home
April 12            Ironwood*                      4:00   Home
April 13             Apollo*                          7:00   Away
April 18             McClintock*                   4:00   Away
April 20             McClintock*(Senior Night) 4:00   Home

*5A Metro

 

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The Maricopa Rams started the season Wednesday on their home field in the Huffman Tournament against Tempe. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Maricopa High School Varsity Baseball team will swing into their season today with the Pinon-Huffman inter-city tournament in Maricopa and Casa Grande.

Roster
2 Anthony Lumactod  – Sr
3 Nico Bandin – Soph
4 Isaac Herrera – Jr
5 Marcos Cano – Sr
6 Carter Paine – Jr
7 Renzo Silva – Soph
8 Mason Williamson – Jr
9 Jackson Stensgard – Sr
10 Jose Leyva – Soph
11 Devin Fiala – Soph
14 Tyler Belcher – Jr
15 Jonathan Aguilar – Soph
16 Kevin McDill – Jr
18 Taylor Belcher – Jr
23 Malachi Hogg – Soph
24 Andres Gusse – Jr
29 Trey Keel – Soph

The Rams will enter the eight-team pool-play style tournament competing over the next three days against three teams at Maricopa High School – Tempe, Higley and Dobson. The winners from each pool will then square off on Saturday against the winner of a four-team bracket in Casa Grande – Poston Butte, Casa Grande, Apache Junction and Marana.

Maricopa head varsity coach Andrew Pollak hopes the momentum from last year’s season will carry over to this season. However, this year, after the Arizona Interscholastic Association redrew the map for many districts, Pollak said, some of their new opponents could prove to be challenging.

“It’s going to be a tough region. We play a bunch of the west side schools,” Pollak said. “It’s going to be fun, but it’s going to be tough.”

The line-up this year is relatively fresh with few returning upperclassmen, he said, a factor which adds to the challenge.

“Personnel-wise we’re pretty young,” Pollak said. “We have basically all sophomores and juniors that we’re going to play with, and one returning senior starter.”

Despite their age, Pollak feels the team’s defensive prowess is what will set them apart.

Junior pitcher Carter Paine
Junior pitcher Carter Paine

“I think defensively we’ll be pretty strong,” Pollak said. “We’ve got an infield that’s pretty solid and we’ve got some strong outfielders.”

The Ram’s hitting and pitching game is the only area of concern for Pollak, though he does have a strategy for that.

“We are going to have to find a way to score some runs though,” he said. “And [offensively] our guys are going to have to pitch to contact ground balls, or use the defense behind them. We’re not going to throw by anybody.”

The AIA also recently approved a proposal to dissolve the MHS freshman baseball program, a move which will likely mean more underclassman playing JV and varsity ball in the future.

Pinon-Huffman Tournament Schedule
@ Maricopa High School
Dobson v. Higley at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22.
MHS v. Tempe at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22.
Dobson v. Tempe at 3:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 23.
MHS v. Higley at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23.
Higley v. Tempe at 3:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 24.
MHS v. Dobson at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24.

@ Casa Grande High School
Apache Junction v. Poston Butte, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22.
Casa Grande v. Apache Junction, 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23.
Poston Butte v. Marana, 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23.
Marana v. Apache Junction, 3:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24.
Casa Grande v. Marana, 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24.


2017 Schedule
Feb. 22-25    Pinon/Huffman Tournament    TBA      Home
Feb. 28           Sierra Linda                             3:45     Away
March 3           Desert Edge                            6:00     Away
March 8           Boras Classic                           TBA     Tempe
March 13         Glendale                                 7:00     Away
March 15         Vista Grande                           4:00     Home
March 23         Mesquite                                4:00     Home
March 24         Ironwood*                              4:00     Home
March 28         Kellis*                                    3:45     Away
March 30        Casa Grande                            4:00    Home
March 31        Kellis*                                     4:00    Home
April 4           Sunnyslope*                            4:00    Home
April 6           Verrado                                    3:45    Away
April 7           Sunnyslope*                           4:00    Away
April 11         Apollo*                                   4:00    Away
April 12         Ironwood*                               3:45    Away
April 13         Apollo*                                   4:00    Home
April 18         McClintock*                            4:00    Home
April 19         Williams Field (Senior Night)4:00    Home
April 20         McClintock*                            4:00    Away
*5A Metro


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Photo by Mason Callejas

Maricopa High School Theatre Company debuted its production of the classic comedy “You Can’t Take It With You” in the Black Box Theatre at the Performing Arts Center Thursday. Performances continue to night at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $5.

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Maricopa's 5-foot-4 guard Josh Johnson led the team's scoring with 27 points, including seven 3-pointers. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Maricopa Rams have been a bit cursed this season having the Apollo Hawks not only in their conference but also in their region.

Apollo was undefeated in 5A Metro competition and in conference play (24-3 overall). Two of those 10 region wins were against Maricopa, by scores of 90-63 and 74-52.

So after the Rams overcame a disintegration midway through the season by fighting their way into the state playoffs, it was their misfortune to be seeded 16th and bracketed against Apollo immediately. The resulting 90-66 loss to the Hawks in Round 1 was neither shocking nor shaming.

“They’re a good team and they did not have a letdown,” Maricopa coach Tony Fuller said.

Apollo’s senior point guards Dre Marin and Holland Woods put on a shooting clinic. Marin hit seven 3-pointers and scored 35 points. Woods score 27.

Junior Josh Johnson led the Rams with 27 points. He also nailed seven 3-pointers. Senior Terrell Johnson scored 18 points and brother Darrell Johnson 14.

Maricopa took the lead early and stayed close until the middle of the first quarter, when Apollo forced turnovers and started hitting nonstop from the field. The Rams trailed by nine points at the end of the quarter.

The second quarter was a disaster for the Rams, who were held to just nine points. The Hawks grew their lead to 47-29 at the half. Maricopa went on some scoring runs but could not get close to Apollo again.

Junior Cameron Sanders hit two buckets for Maricopa and Senior Roscoe Gray hit a 3-pointer to round out the scoring.

“It’s rough when they shoot the ball like that,” Fuller said. “I think the best team won, but I’m still proud of my team.”

The mood in the locker room was somber afterward, the coach said, “but I still see a sense of pride that I didn’t see when I first arrived.”

Many of the players exited red-eyed or in tears. That included Darrell Johnson, who said the team became much closer as friends as the season went on, and the final loss was frustrating.

“We played our hardest tonight and tried to get the job done,” he said.

“But you win some, you lose some.”

Twins Darrell and Terrell Johnson were newcomers to the Rams this year and were consistent top scorers and rebounders. They are among six seniors leaving the team and, at 6-foot-4, the only true height on the squad.

It was an up-and-down season for a team that started strong with two tournament victories but then lost key players to academic struggles. That contributed to a four-game slide late in the season.

With all of the missing players back, they were good enough to get into the top 24 and qualify for the play-in tournament. There, they upset 10th ranked Deer Valley in dramatic fashion to earn a spot in the playoffs.

Fuller said the Rams would have to be a lot sharper to beat a team like Apollo. And he is still concerned about the academic struggles of a lot of students with basketball skills who could not be on the team because they could not make the grades.

“We’ve got a long way to go in terms of what a real basketball program is about,” Fuller said. “The cultural dynamic has to change.”

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Maricopa juniors Sydni Callis and Josh Johnson are key players as Maricopa High School's basketball teams move into the post-season. Photos by William Lange

The Maricopa High School girls’ basketball team climbed up the 5A rankings in the final week of play to finish seventh.

That automatically qualifies the Rams for a slot in the state tournament. The bracket will be announced Sunday. The state tourney, which Arizona Interscholastic Association calls February Frenzy, starts Tuesday.

Winning the final six games of the season, Maricopa is 21-4 overall.

The final two games were on the road. The Rams defeated Williams Field 57-30. They were led by 22 points from senior Tyra Williams and 12 each from junior Sydni Callis and senior Clara Morris. Williams and junior Natausha Hall each had eight rebounds, and Callis had eight steals.

At Apollo, a 5A Metro rival, Maricopa ran over the Hawks 63-38. Callis led the scoring with 18 points. Junior Jayla Johnson scored 17, and Williams contributed 14. Hall led the rebounding with 10, while Callis had 12 assists and eight steals.

The dominating play of the Rams lifted them three places from their No. 10 ranking at the start of last week.

Teams ranked 9-24 must compete in the conference play-in tournament. Instead, the Rams get a rest.

Maricopa’s boys’ team has a bigger, more immediate challenge.

Posting a 17-10 overall record, the Maricopa boys’ team achieved a 23rd ranking in 5A. That landed them a spot in the conference play-in tournament for a chance to qualify for the state tournament.

The Rams are set to play Deer Valley on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Deer Valley High School in Glendale in the conference tourney.

Head coach Tony Fuller said staff has been watching tapes of 10th-ranked Deer Valley extensively.

“They are an excellent team,” he said. “They have a good guard, good post guys. They’re a lot like us. They’re big and their tough, but I think we’re ready.”

The Rams had lost some players to academic problems, but they are reloaded. The ranking of 23 is now considered imaginary by the coach.

“We’re healthy and we’ve got everybody back,” Fuller said. “The guys are trying to do something that hasn’t been done here in a very long time.”

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Halverson wins section title

Dakota Halverson (left) and Luis Alvarez celebrate their sectional performances with MHS head wrestling coach Coach Erick Fierro. Both seniors qualified for the state tournament. Submitted photo

Dakota Halverson, a senior at Maricopa High School, is Arizona’s Division II Section IV champion.

Halverson won the top spot with his performance at the sectional meet at Campo Verde High School on Saturday. He is ranked second in the state in Division II’s 285-pound class. His record this season is 41-6.

He will wrestle at the Arizona State Tournament Friday and Saturday in Prescott Valley.

And he won’t be alone.

Fellow Ram Luis Alvarez, also a senior, took second place in the 132-pound weight class on Saturday. That qualified him for state, as well. His record is 26-9 this season.

The state championships are at the Prescott Valley Event Center.

Maricopa Unified School District is creating an alternative school to get high school students who are "credit-deficient" back on track for graduation.

The Maricopa Unified School District’s governing board discussed at a Wednesday meeting an implementation strategy for the district’s newly founded Alternative Secondary Program.

Per the district’s description, the purpose of the program is to encourage “remediation leading to graduation,” meaning through the program students who are “credit deficient” or otherwise do not conform to a “comprehensive school” model can not only graduate with a diploma, but also do so on time.

Superintendent Steve Chestnut has high hopes for the program not just as a service to students who don’t wish to participate in regular high school program, but to students who may just need a semester or two to get back on track.

“We think that some of them could and should get caught up and then maybe go back into the regular program,” Chestnut said. “But we think that some of them may want to spend their last two years of school in this program.”

The current program design is based on nine-week semesters, Monday through Thursday, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., with two-hour blocks and new students being able to cycle into the program every nine weeks.

The district hopes the program will be able to accommodate as many as 120 credit-deficient students in grades 11 and 12, and hopes in the future they will be able to accommodate ninth and 10th grade. However, due to budgetary restrictions, the underclasses will be excluded from the alternative program’s current design, a fact which has board member Torri Anderson concerned.

“If we can catch them as freshman and sophomores, they don’t have to be in it for junior and senior year,” Anderson said. “So, my idea is let’s do something that is preventative.”

Chestnut agreed with Anderson, and acknowledged the district is still dealing with limited resources and he wants the current program to succeed before it is expanded upon.

He said the program is not necessarily limited to 11th and 12th grades. The 120 slots will be filled on a case by case basis with “the kids who are in the greatest need,” including ninth and 10th grades. However, the target groups remain juniors and seniors who are approaching graduation.

There was also talk of implanting a case manager to assist special-needs students who may benefit from the program.

Currently the plan is to utilize four classrooms at Maricopa High School located in the automotive building. The board also plans to purchase two portable buildings, which will accommodate two other alternative school classes.

Final approval of the program plan has not been made. Most board members agree on key items and, because of the timeliness of the matter, plan to have the wrinkles ironed out sometime in February.

The program is set to begin with the 2017-18 school year.

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Tyra Williams (30) and Sydni Callis wait for the call after a Sunnyslope player takes tumbles out of bounds. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Maricopa High School girls’ basketball team has compiled a record of 14-3 with nine games left in the regular season. The Rams defeated Sunnyslope 68-40 Tuesday.

They are at the top of the 5A Metro region, tied with Apollo (11-5) at 2-0. With the exception of a game at Williams Field, the rest of the season is Metro competition for Maricopa. In the statewide 5A conference, Maricopa is ranked ninth.

In Tuesday’s game against the Vikings, the Rams ran off with a 25-7 run in the first quarter and were up 37-22 by halftime.

Senior Tyra Williams led the scoring with 22 points. Junior Sydni Callis had 17 points, and junior Natausha Hall 14.

Remaining Schedule
Raymond S. Kellis    Home    7 p.m.
McClintock                Away    7 p.m.
Ironwood                   Away    7 p.m.
Apollo                       Home    7 p.m.
Sunnyslope               Away    7 p.m.
Raymond S. Kellis    Away    7 p.m.
McClintock                Home    7 p.m.
Williams Field          Away    7 p.m.
Apollo                       Away    7 p.m.

See more photos at http://www.inmaricopa.com/photos-sports/

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MHS AFJROTC cadets with KC-135R Stratotankers at the newly named Goldwater Air National Guard Base. Submitted photo

Students from Maricopa High School attended the renaming ceremony for an Arizona Air National Guard base in December.

The former Phoenix Sky Harbor Air National Guard Base is now Goldwater Air National Guard Base to honor the late Arizona senator and presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. The ceremony was Dec. 9.

Cadets from the MHS Air Force Junior ROTC program attended, hearing from Gov. Doug Ducey, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Barry Goldwater Jr.

Instructor Lt. Col. Allen Kirksey (ret.) called it “an awesome experience.”

The next Curriculum in Action (CIA) trip for the cadets will be a tour of Luke Air Force Base Jan. 19.

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Maricopa High School girls' varsity soccer team. Photo by William Lange

The Maricopa girls’ varsity soccer team revealed strengths and weaknesses in a 4-4 tie against Skyline Friday, bringing their record this season to 2-2-1.

Though their record indicates the potential of a moderately successful squad, the true measure may rest with scoring. The Rams have on average netted nearly three goals per game this season, however at the same time they have also allowed an average of two goals per game, a fact head coach Pedro Olivares believes needs to be addressed.

“We have a strong attacking group this year,” Olivares Said. “But where we need some help is on the defense.”

Some of the strongest scorers this year are among the team’s eight seniors, many of whom have played together since they were freshman. Olivares knows their offensive unity will likely add to the squad’s success, but he also acknowledges that it takes defensive prowess to be victorious.

Olivares said senior sweepers Lauren Davis (captain) and Katie Siebert, along with keeper Briana Barba, show the potential necessary to counter strong offensive teams. The technical skills and strength of senior strikers Amanda Maciel and Rachael Perez will keep the Rams competitive against stronger defenses.

The forward-looking Olivares acknowledges a lot boots will be left empty when these and other strong seniors graduate, thus this season he is putting an emphasis on training and recruiting younger players to help fill the impending void.

“I’m working with some of the freshman and sophomores in key positions so they can be ready for next year,” Olivares said. “So, we’re planning for this year but we are also planning for next [year].”

Though this is his first season coaching at Maricopa High School, Olivares is no stranger to the pitch. He has a storied past playing and coaching for club teams in Mexico, El Paso, Texas, and elsewhere in Arizona. Four years ago he and his family settled in Maricopa, and it wasn’t long before he knew the laid-back and family oriented atmosphere was exactly where he wanted his family to be.

“We love Maricopa,” Olivares said. “We really want to make a difference in the community.”

Now, wanting to advance the program, Olivares hopes to see his community rally around these athletes and support them not only by cheering for them at games but by participating in club fundraising efforts as well.

For information about fundraising, or if you’d like to contribute to the Lady Rams Varsity Soccer Club contact coach Olivares at pedroli1@msn.com.

The Rams will defend the home turf against Poston Butte tonight at 6 p.m. and then turn around to face Kellis in Glendale Wednesday night at the same time.

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Chamber Orchestra was decked out in holiday finery for Pass in Review. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Maricopa High School Music Department presented its “Pass in Review” concert Dec. 6 with performances by the Chamber Orchestra, Symphonic Band, Marching Rams, Choir and Varsity Choir.

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MHS boys's soccer team has started the season 2-1.

The Maricopa High School boys’ varsity soccer team is looking to turn things around this season with a uniquely unified squad largely comprised of senior defenders.

After the folly of the 2015-2016 season the Rams are stomping out any ill spirits left behind and, as their current 2-1 record shows, are working together to make victories happen.

Head coach Cortney Kellenaers has been with the team for seven years and remembers how easy it was in the past for the team to become infected by the poor attitudes of a few players. Now, he hopes the team will see the new season as a clean path on which they can use their camaraderie to build steady momentum.

“I think our strength is going to be our unity this year,” Kellenaers said. “It’s a much more cohesive group this year and they’re a little bit mo re willing to work for each other.”

The 2015-2016 season was, in Kellenaers’ words, a “rebuilding year” due to the unfortunately lopsided record of only two victories and 10 losses. This season, however, is poised to be a strong one for the Rams as 10 of 23 varsity players are returning seniors. Many of them, having played with each other in the past, have developed bonds that transcend the pitch, a fact Kellenaers does not take for granted.

“It’s nice having the seniority,” Kellenaers said. “A lot of these guys have been together for awhile, and they’re all good friends, which helps.”soccer-boys-12-2-3

Many of this season’s returning seniors are defensive players, another fact coach Kellenaers doesn’t take for granted. He recognizes having defensive leaders on the field is crucial to the team’s success, but, despite their positive direction, they can’t get ahead of themselves.

“A lot of the seniors are defenders, so it’s not just the scorers that are leading the team,” Kellenaers said. “But still, we’re taking it one game at a time.”

This season team is facing a new section of opponents, some of whom they haven’t faced in years, if ever before. Of those teams, the Rams don’t exactly have a defined rival this season. Kellenaers did, however, admit to being a bit territorial with Vista Grande and Casa Grande, the two teams nearest Maricopa geographically speaking. And, after sweeping Vista Grande 5-0 at their match Friday, the Rams appear to be maintaining that territory.

So far this season the Rams hold a winning record of two wins and one loss with their other victory coming from a 2-1 season opener at home against Queen Creek on Wednesday. Since then the Rams have experienced one defeat, losing 0-2 against Mountain Pointe Saturday

The Rams are set to square off against Desert Ridge in tournament play at Williams Field in Gilbert tonight at 5 p.m.
soccer-boys-12-2-4
Schedule
Nov. 30      H    Queen Creek            2-1 win
Dec. 2       H    Vista Grande              5-0 win
Dec. 3       @  Mountain Pointe       2-0 loss
Dec. 6-8   Tournament
Dec. 13    @   Poston Butte             6 p.m.
Dec. 14    H    Kellis                            6 p.m.
Dec. 16    H    Williams Field            6 p.m.
Dec. 19    @   Mesquite                    6 p.m.
Dec. 22    @   Sierra Linda                6 p.m.
Jan. 9        @   Apollo                          6 p.m.
Jan. 11      H     Ironwood                    6 p.m.
Jan. 17      H    Sunnyslope                 6 p.m.
Jan. 19     @    Casa Grande               6 p.m.
Jan. 24     @    McClintock                  6 p.m.

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The Maricopa Rams won the Give Thanks Classic during the Thanksgiving break. Junior Josh Johnson (with trophy) was named tournament MVP. The team includes Darrell Handy-Johnson, El Jones, Terrell Handy-Johnson, Cameron Sanders, Kenny Oliver, Roscoe Gray, Dallin Moffat and Rashad Chavis. Submitted photo

The Maricopa High School boys’ basketball team took home the championship from Notre Dame Prep’s Give Thanks Classic last week. It was their very first tournament of the year.

Three victories over the course of the Thanksgiving holiday tournament led to the trophy.

The Rams took the Queen Creek Bulldogs 81-65 in their first match-up Nov. 21.

They then went on to put on a strong defensive performance during their victory over the Fountain Hills Falcons by a similar margin of 70-53 on Nov. 23.

Finally, Maricopa demonstrated offensive prowess in the championship game against the Hawks of Buckeye, though winning by a much tighter margin of 87-82 on Nov. 26.

Junior Josh Johnson was named tournament MVP, shooting a remarkable 35 of 39 free throws combined for the tournament.

“Not only did he do well on the free-throw line, but he showed solid leadership on the court, which helped controlled the game,” Coach Tony Fuller said.

Coach Tony Fuller. Photo by Mason Cajellas
Coach Tony Fuller. Photo by Mason Cajellas

Fuller said the entire team contributed to the title, but there is always room for improvement.

The Rams play their first home game tonight at 7 p.m. against Vista Grande. Thursday is also a home game, a rematch with Queen Creek.

Learn more about Coach Fuller’s approach to the Maricopa Rams in his first season in the December issue of InMaricopa, which will be in mailboxes this week.

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The MHS Marching Rams earned their highest score of the year in the final competition. Submitted photo

The Maricopa High School Marching Rams performed their 2016 field show, “Postcards,” for the last time on Saturday at the 1A and 4A Class AzMBA Championships at Perry High School in Chandler.

The Rams placed seventh in class 4A, and gave their best performance of the season, earning their highest score of the year – 70.10.

The students earned praise for their performance energy as well as for capturing the different musical styles of their show.

“This was the band’s first performance using new sousaphones and marching drums from our recent grant from the Gila River Indian Community,” said Ivan Pour, music director. “We want to send a big thank you to the Gila River Indian Community. The new instruments are making a big difference for our students.”

Pour was again voted “favorite director” in the fundraiser/voting contest at the event.

“It was a wonderful night of marching band music and a celebration of a great season,” Pour said.

The Marching Rams will perform their show music one final time as part of our Fall Music “Pass in Review” Concert in the Maricopa High School Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. on Dec.6. Admission is free. The Marching Rams will also appear in the Ak-Chin Masik Tas Parade on Dec. 10.

Submitted photo
Submitted photo

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Kenny Oliver, Sam Aviles and Nic Carbajal, all Maricopa High School seniors, were named First Team All-Section. Photos by William Lange

In 5A Metro All-Section voting, Maricopa High School had six football players and three volleyball players receive honors.

Senior Kenny Oliver was named First Team on defense and Second Team on offense. When not messing up other team’s passing games defensively, he averaged more than 56 receiving yards per game for the Rams’ offense and 18 yards per kickoff return.

Sam Aviles, who moved to Maricopa from Missouri for his senior year, was named First Team on special teams for his outstanding kicking. Senior Nickolas Carbajal, in an effective if unsung role on the offensive line, joins Oliver on the offensive First Team.

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Jathan Washington, Claytin Valenzuela and Daveon Harris were named to the All-Section Second Team. Photos by William Lange

Seniors Daveon Harris and Claytin Valenzuela were named Second Team on defense. Sophomore running back and sometime quarterback Jathan Washington was named Second Team on offense.

The football team was 5-5 overall and 2-3 in the section.

The volleyball team also played .500 ball with a 9-9 record. The Rams were 4-6 in the section.

In the Metro voting, sophomore powerhouse Carli Rieman was named First Team.

Senior Morgan Peters made the Second Team, and senior Aki Buckmister received honorable mention.

Photos by William Lange
Photos by William Lange

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This year's Rams include (from left) Kassidy Hamlett, Sydni Callis, Natausha Hall, Chalisse Bell, head coach Melvin Mitchell, Tyra Williams, Alyssa Lebron, Clara Morris, Destinee Chavis and Jayla Johnson. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Maricopa High School girls’ basketball team gets its first public outing of the season with a scrimmage Wednesday at 5 p.m. on the home court.

Second-year head coach Melvin Mitchell has 11 girls at the varsity level – if he moves up two sophomores from junior varsity.

“I think our strengths continue to be what they’ve always been – getting out in transition, fast breaks, pressure defense,” said Mitchell, who also teaches at Santa Cruz Elementary.

Last season, the Rams were 23-7, losing to rival Seton Catholic in the state quarterfinals. With the reconfigured divisions, Seton Catholic is off MHS’s schedule, having been moved to 4A. Maricopa now plays in 5A Metro with Apollo (11-12 last season), Ironwood (16-12), McClintock (9-15), Kellis (4-19) and Sunnyslope (4-17).

Two seasons ago, Maricopa won the state title in erstwhile Division II.

“I like our schedule,” Mitchell said. “We have a pretty good mix of teams, and we’ll play some [former] Division I teams in tournament play.”

 

Senior Tyra Williams
Senior Tyra Williams

Three of last season’s starters graduated. Returning starters are senior forward Tyra Williams and junior guard Sydni Callis.

Besides Williams, the Rams have not been a tall team, though Mitchell said he will have a couple sophomores with a little altitude to bring in. What Maricopa has been known for is its quickness and aggressiveness.

Challenges for the team? “Rebounding, for sure,” Mitchell said.

Offensively and defensively, he has called it the team’s Achilles’ heel.

Joining Williams and Callis, he expects this season’s starters to be junior Chalisse Bell, sophomore Jayla Johnson and senior Clara Morris, a transfer from Chicago.

Also on varsity are senior Alyssa Lebron, junior Natausha Hall, and sophomores Destinee Chavis and Kassidy Hamlett.

 

Schedule
Nov. 16         home    5 p.m.    Scrimmage (Apache Junction, Glendale Prep, Coolidge)
Nov. 25-26    Scorpion Shootout at Desert Edge
Nov. 29        away    7 p.m.    Visa Grande
Dec. 1        away    7 p.m.    Queen Creek
Dec. 2        home    7 p.m.    Campo Verde
Dec. 6        home    7 p.m.    Poston Butte
Dec. 9        home    7 p.m.    Mtn. View (Marana)
Dec. 13        home    7 p.m.    Willow Canyon
Dec. 15        away    7 p.m.    Casa Grande
Dec. 16        home    7 p.m.    Ironwood
Jan. 10        home    7 p.m.    Sunnyslope
Jan. 13        home    7 p.m.    Kellis
Jan. 17        away    7 p.m.    McClintock
Jan. 19        away    7 p.m.    Ironwood
Jan. 20        home    7 p.m.    Apollo
Jan. 24        away    7 p.m.    Sunnyslope
Jan. 27        away    7 p.m.    Kellis
Jan. 31        home    7 p.m.    McClintock (senior night)
Feb. 2        away    7 p.m.    Williams Field
Feb. 7        away    7 p.m.    Apollo

 

The MHS production of "Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" in the Performing Arts Center. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa High School Theatre Company is taking a trip to “Narnia” this week with its interpretation of C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”

The show opened Thursday night in the Performing Arts Center. It is appropriate for families, and the opening-night crowd included several youngsters.

Similar to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” the set and costuming of this well-known story are as important to the staging as the actors. The MHS crew comes through admirably on that score, and good light management enhances the other-worldliness for a fun theater experience.

The plot follows the Pevensie children, sent out to the English countryside during World War II for safekeeping, who discover an unlikely passage to the magical world of Narnia. There, a White Witch is trying to usurp the throne of the rightful king, the lion Aslan. The Pevensies must quickly judge which side they are on.

The youngest brother Edmund ultimately has the most soul-searching to do as his self-centered actions endanger not just his siblings but the entire land. Played perfectly by Brandon Korritky, his defiance of his older brother Peter, prevarications and craving for special treatment by the White Witch are clearly portrayed without completely stripping him of sympathy.

The question becomes whether he can be salvaged by Aslan, voiced by Nikolas Mase, who also plays the Professor and Santa. Mase’s voice has just the gravity needed for the royal role. The giant lion is completed by puppetry created by Todd and Dylan Stradling and operated by Christian Patten and Isabella Garza.

Also delivering as the other Pevensies are that same Dylan Stradling as noble if officious Peter, Setera Miller as good-natured Susan and Sarah Ledbetter as young Lucy, who instigates the entire family adventure by hiding in a wardrobe.

Tyler Curtis as the White Witch in "Narnia." Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Tyler Curtis as the White Witch in “Narnia.” Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Tyler Curtis clearly relishes her part as the evil White Witch. Whether manipulating Edmund, torturing a faun or bossing around wolves, she commands the stage whenever she appears.

That faun, Mr. Tumnus, is played with great vulnerability and nervous energy by Porter Jones. Tumnus’ friendship with Lucy is sweetly played.

The Pevensies also befriend Mr. and Mrs. Beaver (Derek Blakely and Hannah Panter). They are all hunted by the witch’s army of wolves, led by Carlos O. Venegas and Ivie Keene.

The cast is filled out with dozens of students playing woodland animals and mystical creatures in fun bits of costuming.

The story was adapted by teacher Cynthia Calhoun, who also directs.  The technical crew is led by teacher Kevin Piquette, who designed the set created by his students. Amid the staged forest, important elements like the witch’s sleigh and the wardrobe function as they should to tell the story.

The show runs through Saturday. Performances are at 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday. Cost is $5.

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Maricopa junior Jesse Gaines (front center) leads the Rams in a rapid start at the Division II State Cross Country Championship. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa High School’s boys’ cross country team finished 24th in the state championships Saturday.

Amid 31 Division II teams on a hot day at Cave Creek Golf Course in Phoenix, the Rams were swallowed up in a shockingly fast start. Maricopa ran seven runners in the 5-kilometer race, with the top five scoring points for the team.

Junior Jesse Gaines led the Rams by finishing 50th in a field of 228 runners on a difficult course.

It was not a day for personal best times. Gaines clocked in at 17:36, his fourth fastest result of the season.

Sophomore Alec Kramarczyk was again the No. 2 runner for Maricopa, finished 114th in 18:26. Senior John Blodgett ran 131st in 18:36.

Junior Sam Coles ran 153rd in 18:59. Senior Mark Mwangi, like Blodgett finishing his high school cross country career, was 161st in 19:06.

Also running were Brady Hunsaker, a junior who finished 218th in 21:15, and junior Giovanni Hernandez, who was 224th in 21:36.

Three teams were packed tight at the top of the leader board. Flagstaff High School won Division II, with a combined time of 1:24.10. Campo Verde was second and Buena third.

The individual champion was Buena senior Manuel Olivo-Quinones, who won easily in a blistering 15:41.

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Jack Renkens will talk to students and their parents about college athletic recruitment. Submitted photo

Award-winning former high school and college coach and athletic director Jack Renkens of Recruiting Realities will discuss the college recruiting process, including financial aid, at Maricopa High School for student-athletes and families on Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.

Renkens will give a free presentation, which is open to the public.

“This is a no-nonsense presentation that serves as a reality check for student-athletes and their families seeking a college degree while playing sports at the college level,” Renkens said. “I’m going to tell Maricopa what they need to hear. It’s a game – know the rules.

“This isn’t about scholarships. It’s about funding,” Renkens said, regarding his talk focusing on merit money, grants, endowments and academic achievements.

Renkens has been a keynote speaker at the Arizona High School Athletic Directors Conference, as well as in 35 other states across America. He has written 16 books on the recruiting process.

“It’s about finding the right match academically, while realizing the opportunities to play college sports,” Renkens said.  “Families need to be realistic about the opportunities that are available, and there are many opportunities out there, whether in NCAA Division I, II or III, NAIA and NJCAA.”

Renkens added, “Less than 1 percent of student-athletes are going to be fully funded at a Division I school.  But 99 percent of the student-athletes can play at the collegiate level in other divisions. The key is finding the right school and financial aid package.”

Renkens will talk about the critical fact that student-athletes don’t pick the school, but rather the school picks them.  He delves into the ways to continue their passion to play sports at the collegiate level – how to get noticed. Renkens has been a college and junior college coach, having recruited athletes for 30 years.

For more information on Jack Renkens presentation, see www.recruitingrealities.com

 

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MHS Marching Rams perform at the SkyDome at NAU. Submitted photo

The Maricopa High School Marching Rams took their 2016 field show “Postcards” up to beautiful Flagstaff for Northern Arizona University (NAU) Band Day on Saturday.

The Marching Rams performed in the Walkup Skydome at NAU, were adjudicated by a great panel of judges and got to get a glimpse of a college band with a great performance of the NAU Lumberjack Marching Band.

The Marching Rams gave their best performance to date, improving on last week’s state qualifying score and earning the second-highest rating of Excellent. The band earned praise for improvement over last week in several areas, including timing and articulation clarity, but most noticeable was a big improvement in color guard performance.

The Marching Rams have a couple field performances left including:

Nov. 5 – ABODA State Marching Band Festival at Dobson High School (performance schedules posted at ABODA.org).

Nov. 19 – AzMBA Championships at Chandler Perry High School. Times are TBD for this event but should be released shortly.

The Marching Rams will also reprise their field show music at the “Pass in Review” Music Concert on Dec. 6 in the Performing Arts Center at MHS.

 

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MHS seniors pose for a final photo in uniform at the end of the victory at McClintock. Photo by William Lange

Maricopa High School’s football team wrapped up its season Friday night with a conference win at McClintock.

It was Homecoming and Senior Night for the Chargers, but the Rams’ seniors lingered longest on the field after the 17-14 victory.

“The season has been a season of adversity, a lot of adversity,” head coach Chris McDonald said. He credited the seniors with finishing strong and having a “bond of brotherhood” as an example for the underclassmen.

The win gave Maricopa a 5-5 record in a season that introduced the Rams to a tough new conference in a tough new division. McClintock had an even more difficult time with the re-alignment, winning just three games and getting swept in conference competition.

Friday night, Maricopa scored first on Zach Bachelder’s quarterback keeper from just outside the goal line midway through the first quarter. McClintock took advantage of a long punt return to set up a quick goal line series that tied the game 7-7 at the end of the period.

At the beginning of the second quarter, McClintock recovered a Ram fumble and ran the ball to the Rams’ 13 yard line. The Chargers soon went up 14-7.

Quarterback Zach Bachelder scores the first touchdown of the night. Photo by William Lange
Quarterback Zach Bachelder scores the first touchdown of the night. Photo by William Lange

Maricopa tied the score before halftime on a short-yardage run by sophomore running back Jacob Cowing.

The Rams’ defense locked down for the rest of the game. So when senior kicker Sam Aviles nailed a 24-yard field goal with 5:06 left in the third quarter, it was all Maricopa needed for the win.

Maricopa rushed for 115 yards, led by senior Daveon Harris’ 56 yards on 18 carries. Junior Kemo Akins carried the ball nine times for 44 yards.

Bachelder completed four of 10 pass attempts for 46 yards. His longest connection was a 13 yarder to senior Kenny Oliver.

Bachelder injured his shoulder in the first game of the season and missed four games. Despite not being completely healed, he returned to give the Rams a consistent presence behind center. McDonald said most young players would have quit after that first game.

“That just speaks to the level of toughness he has,” McDonald said. Bachelder has surgery scheduled.

Maricopa’s starting 11 this season included four sophomores. While that demanded a large learning curve, McDonald said it gives the Rams a lot of returning experience next year.

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MHS junior Jesse Gaines led the team by finishing fourth in the sectional. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

With one of their top runners sidelined and a team leader ailing, the Maricopa Rams’ goal of returning to the state cross country championships looked bleak Friday afternoon.

Boys’ State Qualifiers Division II Section IV
Campo Verde 25
Mesquite 102
Queen Creek 111
McClintock 124
Maricopa 142
Chaparral 152
Arcadia 185

But a sophomore stepped up in a big way to help Maricopa to a fifth-place finish in the Division II Section IV competition. The boys will run in the state meet on Saturday.

The Maricopa boys’ team has been very competitive all season. Friday, however, senior Sam Coles was absent and senior John Blodgett was under the weather.

Coming into the meet, sophomore Alec Kramarczyk’s best time in the 3.1-mile race was 18 minutes flat at the Nike Desert Twilight on Sept. 30, when he finished 71st. Friday, Kramarczyk made himself Maricopa’s No. 2 runner by placing 13th and posting a personal-best time of 17:47.

Kramarczyk, whose father Jeff owns Crate Coffee, smiled wide when he said it was the coffee that gave him the surprise boost. He was the only Maricopa runner to set a personal record (PR) Friday. Now he wants to “have fun” at the state meet.

“I want to get my time down to the 16s,” he said.

At sectionals, the top seven teams and the top 25 individuals qualified for the state championship. Fourteen boys’ teams competed.

Sophomore Alec Kramarczyk ran a personal record in Friday's 5K to finish 13th overall and second on the team. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Sophomore Alec Kramarczyk ran a personal record in Friday’s 5K to finish 13th overall and second on the team. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa junior Jesse Gaines again was the team’s top runner. He finished fourth in 17:23. His best time in the 5K is 17:15.

Blodgett also qualified individually despite not having his best race. He finished 20th in 18:14, nearly a minute off his personal best time set last season. He has been a vocal team leader, however, in setting high goals for the Rams.

“I’m pretty stoked,” Blodgett said, “especially after we did it last year and tried to do it again this year. I’m going to try to PR in my last race ever in cross country.”

Senior Mark Mwangi scored points for the Rams by finishing 37th in 17:51. Junior Giovanni Hernandez was the No. 5 runner in 68th place in 20:36.

Also in the field, junior Brady Hunsaker finished 76th (20:46) and Caleb Wilson 88th (22:27).

Coach Heather Abel said Coles will return to the team this week and compete in the state meet. He previously set a qualifying time of 17:46.3 at the Nike Desert Twilight.

Campo Verde easily won the boys’ meet with 25 points. It had five runners in the top 10, led by the outstanding sophomore Rylan Stubbs (he has run under 16 minutes three times this season).

The Maricopa girls finished last in their team competition. Junior Megan Carr was the Rams’ top runner. She finished in 57st place. Senior Aisawan Chanproprah was 68th.

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MHS chamber orchestra in performance at ABODA. Submitted photo

The Maricopa High School Chamber Orchestra performed in the ABODA Fall Orchestra Festival on Oct. 21 at Campo Verde High School in Gilbert.

The orchestra performed admirably earning a rating of “Excellent,” the second highest available. The students earned praise for creating a good sound and balance. The orchestra also had a wonderful clinic with Brian Murphy, orchestra director at Mesa Community College. The clinic covered matching playing styles across the ensemble and playing in contrasting styles.

“We are very proud of our orchestra students and we are looking forward to another great year of performances,” Director of Instrumental Music and Fine Arts Department Chair Ivan Pour said.

The orchestra will perform again at the Fall Music “Pass in Review” concert in the MHS Performing Arts Center on Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

MHS-concert-band-ABODA2

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Seniors Dillon Cunningham, Eanis Olmos, Grady Akers, zander Benitez, Nickolas Carbajal, Cody Decenzi, Dakota Halverson, Cole Trimmer, Kenny Oliver, Sam Aviles, Johnny Smith, Claytin Valenzuela, Zach Bachelder and Daveon Harris celebrate Senior Night with coach Chris McDonald. Photo by William Lange

The Maricopa High School football team has fully felt the impact of redistricting in the last half of the season as it faced off with new conference rivals in 5A Metro.

The result, as the Rams head into their final game, is a 4-5 record overall and a 1-3 record in the conference. Maricopa’s 55-28 loss Friday to 5A Metro leader Raymond S. Kellis High School may have been foretold but still stung on Senior Night.

Yet, celebration played a major role in the proceedings as the crowd honored senior football players, cheerleaders and marching band and corps members in the final home game.

Kellis scored four consecutive touchdowns in the first half, including a 39-yard punt return. Maricopa committed turnovers that had the Rams’ defense on the field frequently.

Maricopa got on the board before halftime as senior Kenny Oliver grabbed a 52-yard pass from sophomore Jathan Washington. The Rams trailed 27-7 after senior Sam Aviles’ point-after kick.

Photo by William Lange
Photo by William Lange

The Rams came back out of the locker room rejuvenated. Junior Cameron Sanders scored in the first minute. With a boot from Aviles, Maricopa was down just 27-14.

But Kellis got back those points almost immediately to go up 34-14. The Rams came right back, with Sanders scoring on a 19-yard run.

The Cougars scored twice in the fourth quarter to build the lead to 48-21. A spectacular 40-yard-rush by Daveon Harris took the Rams to the 3-yard line. He ran the ball in from there for Maricopa’s final touchdown. Kellis wasn’t done and scored once more before time ran out.

Cougar senior Damien Campbell rushed for 213 yards and scored six of Kellis’s seven touchdowns.

To end the season, the Rams hit the road to play McClintock (3-6, 0-4) Oct. 28 at 7 p.m.

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Longman Pyne tries to avoid defenders in Friday's home loss. Photo by William Lange

The Maricopa High School Rams chalked up their fourth loss Friday, leveling their record to 4-4 and dropping to 1-2 in 5A Metro.

Section rival Sunnyslope visited, scored early and ran off with the 27-10 win.

The Rams’ only touchdown came in the first quarter on a pass from Zach Bachelder to wide receiver Kenny Oliver. Sam Aviles kicked a field goal in the second quarter, and the Rams went into halftime trailing by just seven points.

But the Vikings put up 10 more points while holding Maricopa scoreless for the rest of the game.

Bachelder was 15-for-29 in the game for 146 yards. The Rams were held to just 73 yards rushing, 55 of that coming on one run by Jacob Cowing. Oliver had five catches for 98 yards. Longman Pyne caught three for 30 yards.

Next up for the Maricopa is a home game against 5A Metro leader Raymond S. Kellis High School, which is 7-1 (3-0). The Rams play the Cougars Friday at 7 p.m.

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The Maricopa boys cross country meet did not have to travel far for Wednesday's meet.

It’s been a while since Maricopa High School has been able to host a cross country meet. Three years, in fact. So a three-team dual meet at Copper Sky Regional Park on Wednesday was a small victory by itself.

It was a bit of a warm-up for Friday night’s scheduled Nike Desert Twilight meet in Casa Grande. It also allowed them to go nearly one-on-one with a very good Mesquite High School team. Coronado High School also sent runners but not enough for a team score.

With most of the Rams runners well off their best times of the season, Maricopa finished second in both the boys’ and the girls’ competition at Copper Sky.

Junior Jesse Gaines finished the 5K course fifth behind four Mesquite runners in 18:47. Senior John Blodgett was right behind him in 18:49. Junior Sam Coles was seventh in 19:03.

Sophomore Alec Kramarczyk and senior Mark Mwangi filled the top five spots for Maricopa in ninth and 10th place.

In the much smaller field of girls, junior Megan Carr led the Rams with a fifth place finish in 24.21. Senior Aisawan Chanpropah was seventh in 28:17, followed by senior Tori Martin, Evelyn Young, freshman Juni Hall and Alexandra Mask in order.

Coach Heather Abel said the boys’ team has had a strong season, winning their dual meets and posting personal best times in the big invitationals as they try to return to the state championship meet.

Senior John Blodgett said the team is on track to return to state. His best time of the season so far was 17:28, posted at the Ojo Rojo Invitational Sept. 17. He said he wants to get his time under 17 minutes.

Four of the boys are already on Maricopa’s all-time list of top 20 times. That includes Blodgett and Coles as well as Gaines and Mwangi.

“My goal is to make it to state and for the team to make it to state as well,” Gaines said. “My personal goal is to get into the 16s.”

Gaines’ personal best, posted last year, is 17:22.

Chanpropah was the first runner of the season to post a personal record, running 28:31 at the Chandler Invite on Sept. 3. But she knocked that down much further to 26:48 in the Ojo Rojo. The girls have struggled to field a consistent team of six (by contrast there were 17 boys running at Copper Sky), but those who show up are coming into form just as the boys are improving with every big invitational.

The Ojo Rojo meet was good to a lot of Maricopa runners. Fourteen registered season bests or personal bests.

After the Nike Desert Twilight, the Rams are scheduled for the Rio Rico Rattler Invitational on Oct. 15.