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MHS

Action from last year's tourney. Photo By Raquel Hendrickson

The yearly golfing event that benefits local athletes is set to tee off Saturday morning.

The eighth annual Maricopa High School Football Golf Tournament begins with an 8 a.m. shotgun start and a four-person scramble at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes.

The registration fee per person is $125, and $500 per foursome.

Mark Rasmusson, MHS Football Booster Club president, said the money raised goes toward equipment, trips to football camps and meal planning.

The cost of meals alone each season is over $10,000.

“Every game-day we feed each team: the freshmen, JV and varsity; Along with varsity also every Thursday night before their games, so we are providing four meals a week basically,” Rasmusson said.

The booster club hopes to raise between $18,000 and $19,000 Saturday.

A variety of prizes are offered in the general tourney, including additional prizes for long drive, closest to the hole, and a $5,000 cash prize for a hole-in-one on hole No. 17.

Rasmusson said the event helps provide equal footing for Maricopa football players who play in a large division but live in what still feels like a small town.

“For our kids, sometimes there is a stigma about Maricopa, and we’re trying to provide the kids the same opportunity that every other kid in the state has,” Rasmusson said.

Participants have until 7:30 a.m. the day of the event to sign up. To register visit the Maricopa Rams Football Facebook page.

 

Prizes

  • Scotty Cameron putter
  • Titleist driver
  • Traeger Smoker
  • 55 in. 4k smart TV
  • Steel case leap task chair
  • Troon golf package

 

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MHS girls' soccer head coach Morgan Davis. Photo by William Lange

The former assistant coach for Maricopa High School girls’ varsity soccer will lead the team this year.

Morgan Davis is the new head coach for a team she is looking to unify after it lost its senior players in May.

Although tryouts are slated to begin in October, Davis said the majority of the team is already shaping up to consist of mostly juniors.

“The girls who are going to be seniors and juniors. We are really going to be looking at them to step up their game, to be role models for the upcoming freshmen and sophomores,” Davis said.

The program itself is welcoming many new faces both in coaching and in talent. Cory Rovens will be varsity assistant coach, and Mauricio Racines will head the junior varsity girls’ team.  Davis said it is an opportunity to create leaders as well as a cohesive, fresh program.

“I want everyone to see that even with the new coaches coming in – the new junior varsity coach, the new assistant varsity coach – that we are one,” she said.

The athletic program at the high school is led this year by new Athletic Director Brian Winter. He is working to connect middle school sports within the Maricopa Unified School District with the high school. Davis said she likes Winter’s direction.

“I love the program that he is wanting to incorporate into Maricopa and that goes for all sports, not just soccer,” Davis said. “What he’s looking at is building something in a town that has been overlooked for so long.”

Davis came to the district three years ago and has taught technology at Santa Cruz Elementary School.

She began playing soccer at the age of 7 and later played collegiately at a private university in Iowa, finishing her play at California State University, East Bay. The assistant coaching position at MHS came during the 2015-16 season. Her move to head coach is a transition Davis said she is ready to make.

“I want to create a program not only for the girls’ program, but a cohesive program for the boys and the girls – something we can consolidate together – where you look at the soccer program at Maricopa as a whole and you are proud of it,” Davis said.

The MHS girls’ soccer season begins in November and runs through February.

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

Photo by Michelle Chance

Games, music, an alumni football game and traditional bonfire marked RamFest at Copper Sky Thursday in celebration of Homecoming Week for Maricopa High School. MHS graduates took on city employees and officials, and anyone else who could be rounded up, in the alumni game. Vendors sold food and treats, MHS Marching Band provided pep music, and Maricopa Fire/Medical Department started and maintained the bonfire for a large crowd as the football team prepared to take on North Canyon the following evening.

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. 

Maricopa senior Geo Hernandez strides out early in the boys' competition at Chandler to start the cross country season. Photo by Mason Callejas

Cross country runners had a tough 2017 season opener in Chandler on Wednesday as temperatures reached up to around 109 in the afternoon.

Nevertheless, several Maricopa High School Rams runners finished strong at a five-way meet at Tumbleweed Park with members of both the girls’ and boys’ teams finishing in the top 10 of their respective races.

The lady Rams had two runners finish in the top 10. Sophomore Evelyn Corliss came in second with a time of 23:22, and senior Megan Carr was ninth with a time of 25:36.

Overall, the girls finished fourth at the meet with 76 points, running against the American Leadership Academy (38), Skyline (52), Combs (82), and Seton (no score).

The gentleman Rams, coming off a state-qualifying season, had only one runner come in with the top 10. Junior Alec Kramarczyk finished seventh in 19:29. The next MHS runner, senior Chet Carroll, came in 16th with a time of 21:01.

The heat and the intensity of the first race did get to one MHS runner. Senior Caleb Wilson pushed through a severe cramp toward the end of the race finishing 44th out of 56 with a time of 25:15.

Wilson collapsed shortly after crossing the finish line and was treated by emergency personnel for symptoms related to the heat.

Cross country coach Heather Abel said the situation was likely a “combination of the heat and not breathing correctly.”

Abel also said running in these hot temperatures can prove trying. However, she knows most of her runners are aware of the dangers and run accordingly.

Some of the times aren’t what Abel was hoping for out of the race. But, she said, “it’s only the beginning.”

The boys also finished fourth, scoring 95 points against Seton (37), ALA (42), Combs (82) and Skyline (98).

Her girls’ squad has six new runners this year, but Abel isn’t too worried about the fresh faces. Corliss is one such fresh face and by finishing second in the season opener, Abel said, she has high hopes for the rest of the season.

Though there is always room for improvement, Corliss, personifies the ideal student athlete, the coach said.

“She’s just one of those who never really says anything, never complains, she just kind of does it,” Abel said.

The boys are also showing their competitive nature, she said, with several of them vying for the top five positions.

“It’s going to be a really interesting year for the boys,” She said. “There’s just something with the boys where they push together, they work together, and they absolutely understand what it takes to get to state and what it takes to win dual meets.”

The Rams will return to Tumbleweed Park Sept. 2 at 7 a.m. for their next meet, the Chandler Invite.

 

MHS Roster
Girls:
Evelyn Corliss
Megan Carr
Alondra Borbolla Gonzalez
Alyssa Frarck
Evelyn Young
Juni Hall
Dylan Hill
Kaitlyn Crean
Hayley Mase

Boys:
Alec Kramarczyk
Gio Hernandez
Chet Carroll
Carlos Chavez
Brady Hunsaker
Orion Martin
Caleb Wilson
Alex Lopez Perez
Diego Riva
Vlad Patrenko
Jovanni Fentes
Quinton Stapleton

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.

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.”

 

Schedule
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

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Senior Ivie Keene (from left), teacher Cynthia Calhoun and junior Kjirsten Lemon. Submitted photo

At the recent Arizona High School Drama Coach Convention, Maricopa High School drama teacher Cynthia Calhoun was elected to be one of two representatives working with the director for the Central Region of Arizona Thespians, which is a state chapter for the Educational Theatre Association and the International Thespian Society.

Calhoun’s responsibilities will be to coordinate and organize events, including the regional festival, which qualifies high school students for national competition.

Two Maricopa High School students were also elected as Arizona State Thespian Officers: senior Ivie Keene and junior Kjirsten Lemon. These students will work with Calhoun to promote the development of thespians and thespian leaders throughout the state.

“This is a huge jump forward for our theatre program,” Calhoun said.

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Maricopa High School teacher Bernadette Russoniello (center) received the ACTE Teacher of the Year award. Submitted photo

At the 42nd annual Arizona Association of Career Technical Educators’ Conference, ACTE AZ awarded Maricopa High School’s marketing teacher, Bernadette Russoniello, Teacher of the Year.

Russoniello was honored for her contributions in the classroom, in the student career technical organization DECA, and for her considerable involvement in Career Technical Education Leadership across the state of Arizona.

Her list of accomplishments includes growing a state/nationally recognized marketing program with more than 150 members, increasing recruitment and retention in the marketing program, producing more than 100 regional medalists and more than 30 international competitors, establishing community activities and partnerships and standing out as a leader across her field.

Russoniello currently serves as the president of the Arizona Marketing Education Association, is a sophomore fellow for ACTE AZ concentrating in counseling and leadership, and is a National DECA certified trainer. Russoniello represents Maricopa Unified presenting at multiple state and national conferences on topics including project-based learning in the business and marketing classroom as well as sharing innovative ideas for program growth and retention.

 

“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.

IF YOU GO
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.”

 

SCHEDULE

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

Jason Crawford takes over the Rams softball program, which competes in spring. Submitted photo

 A new coach will lead the Maricopa High School softball team this year.

Jason Crawford joined MHS in August as softball head coach and English teacher, Athletic Director Brian Winter said.

Crawford has a decade’s experience coaching softball. Six of those years include head coaching positions at high schools in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Crawford will inherit a Ram team that, in April, finished a difficult season after their first year in the 5A Metro region.

“I know there has been some disconnect, and I’m excited to try and reinvigorate the community and get (them) behind the girls to build a strong program that’s going to be successful year after year,” Crawford said.

Ram softball could see a bolster in its operations as Crawford and Winter, both entering their positions at MHS this year, set two fresh pairs of eyes on the program.

“(Winter) and I both have lofty goals and lofty expectations,” Crawford said. “We seem to be on the very same page in terms of what we see in the future and how we see it getting there.”

In his tenure, Crawford also coached recreation ball and travel teams, the latter of which he hopes to establish at MHS during the summer.

“I’d like to keep (the team) together and keep them playing against top-tier talent to help make them better ball players and get them exposed to get them to college,” Crawford said.

Ivan Pour chairs the Fine Arts Department at Maricopa High School and is the leader of the band. Photo by Mason Callejas

A union of imagery and sound began when Ivan and Maria Pour wed in 2008.

“In our marriage vows there is even something about ‘supporting (my) artistic endeavors and supporting his music.’” Maria said. “It’s so engrained in who we are.”

The pair’s mutual support of each other’s passions soon led to collaboration inside classrooms at Maricopa High School.

Ivan Pour is the band director; Maria teaches fine art.

Ivan Pour teaches music. Maria Pour teaches art. Photo by Mason Callejas

Every year Maria’s art students visit Ivan’s band room filled with musicians. The band performs for the young artists, who are then instructed to draw “what they hear.”

After the artwork is complete, the musicians take a gallery walk to view the results. Afterward, they compose an original piece of music inspired by their peers’ art.

“Take what you’re seeing and write what sounds like that,” Ivan tells his students.

The band programs at MHS have grown in the near decade since Ivan came to the district. What once was offered as a single class has evolved into a competitive force.

“This year we have three wind (instrument) classes and now a fourth class for the percussionists, and the color guard has their own,” Ivan said.

In April, the Division 1-ranked Maricopa High School Band and Orchestra advanced to the ABODA State Concert Festival for the second consecutive year, and the program continues to produce talented musicians.

Recent graduate and standout tubist Chance Ackerson studied under Ivan Pour during all four years of high school.

“Honestly, being in the marching band was one of the best experiences of my life. It’s basically like a family,” Ackerson said.

The culture within the marching band mirrors that of the art students, and even of the high school, Maria Pour said.

“Whether our students are captains of the football team, cheerleaders, art nerds, band nerds, gay, straight, bi-sexual, black, white, green, it doesn’t matter,” she said. “It’s a family atmosphere here, and the teachers work really hard to get to know each of their kids to teach them valid, really important lessons.”

For the Pours, one of the most vital teachings is reinforcing their belief that art and music education lead to valuable, sustaining careers.

“What a lot of employers are looking for nowadays are people who can also think creatively and critically, and think outside of the box. A lot of our economy now is not creating things, but creating experiences,” Ivan said.

In addition to teaching advanced placement art classes, Maria teaches a 3D art course that constructed costumes for the high school’s recent performance of “Beauty and the Beast.”

She hopes her digital art program grows at MHS.

“I had students the first year I started doing the computer modeling unit in my 3D classes just all of a sudden say ‘Oh my gosh, this is something I could do.’”

A future grant written by Maria could accomplish her goal of exposing students to additional digital art classes and cutting-edge software by next year.

In November, Maria will graduate from Full Sail University with a bachelor’s degree in computer animation. She received her first bachelor’s degree in fine arts from ASU in 2010.

“I want to still stay in traditional art, that’s where my heart is, but using those traditional art skills in more of the modern setting is something that needs to be shown to them,” she said.

At home, Ivan and Maria are raising more young talent, their 5-year-old son Leo.

“There is always the constant battle to see whether he’s going to be an artist or a music nerd,” Maria said.

“It looks like he’s leaning toward art,” Ivan added.

Maria Pour is also growing a digital art program at MHS. Photo by Mason Callejas

This story appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

Maricopa High School is ramping up its school spirit in anticipation for the first day of School on Aug. 7.

Banners displaying Ram, the school’s mascot, as well as its “M” logo were installed on multiple light posts surrounding the MHS court yard this week.

Athletic Director Brian Winter said the school’s incoming freshman population is growing to over 600 students as the school year nears.

“We are in dire need of school spirit,” Winter said as the high school prepares to introduce hundreds of new students to campus.

Over the summer Winter, MHS Principal Renita Meyers, and school staff decided school signage could reinforce school pride.

Signs draped in school colors now hang over academic doorways, displaying educational quotes by Rosa Parks and Christine Gregoire.

As an homage to students’ future education, Winter also ordered banners from Pac 12 colleges that hang in the school’s multipurpose room.

Orientation for freshmen is Aug. 3 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at MHS.

MHS Assistant Principal Stephen Ybarra is the administrator over Ram Academy, which operates as part of Maricopa High School. Photo by Michelle Chance

Students attending Maricopa High School’s new alternative program, Ram Academy, might not be seated in some of the classrooms intended for them by the start of classes Aug. 7.

Ram Academy Assistant Principal Steve Ybarra said two portable buildings for math and English classes have not yet been delivered to the campus.

“I am not really sure what the delay has been, but I did hear the city permits were causing problems,” Ybarra said.

Laying a concrete pad is also on the to-do list for work crews assigned to the Ram Academy’s portable buildings, as well as connecting electrical service once they arrive.

In the meantime, students will attend math and English classes in the library lab and lab room 128 “until the modulars are installed,” Ybarra said.

The portable buildings will be situated north of the high school’s Career & Technical Education building, but their completion date is still unknown.

Students will still have access to CTE classrooms for their other subjects, along with new bathrooms constructed over the summer specifically for Ram Academy students by the first day of school, Ybarra said.

Photo by Michelle Chance

Future high school baseball players wrapped up a three-day camp at Matt Huffman Field Friday morning. Athletes between third and eighth grades participated in the annual Maricopa High School Rams Youth Baseball Camp fielding balls and practicing their swings under the direction of Coach Andrew Pollak and staff.

Perhaps most popular was the sliding exercise, where players traded uniforms for swim trunks in a chance to cool down.

Mark Cisterna has been MUSD's athletic director since 2014.

When Mark Cisterna accepted his position as district athletic director at Maricopa Unified School District three years ago, he said he expected to retire there.

“It was a very difficult decision because I really thought I would really end my career out here,” Cisterna said.

However, that was before he heard a different but familiar calling.

In early June, Cisterna resigned from his post at MUSD to become the athletic director at Notre Dame Preparatory, a private Catholic high school in Scottsdale.

Cisterna, a Catholic, said he had always wanted to work in a similar environment.

“I never have had the opportunity, and I kind of have looked at it from afar. And when this opportunity arose, it was a faith-based decision,” Cisterna said.

The seasoned AD will have similar duties at the prep school to those he had in Maricopa. Cisterna will work closely with athletes and coaches at the high school of about 900 kids.

Cisterna said he will miss mentoring coaches whom he built relationships with at MUSD.

“These coaches mean a lot to me,” he said. “That was probably one of the hardest things in the world for me to do, to leave these young coaches that I’ve committed some time to and ask them to commit back – so that was very hard.”

Cisterna said one of the biggest successes he and the coaching staff have had since his tenure was the growth of the athletic program.

“I’m not going to measure it by wins or losses, but I think that all of our programs have gotten better,” he said.

The athletic program has had its share of challenges. During Cisterna’s second year, the Arizona Interscholastic Association realigned how it classified school divisions. The result boosted Maricopa High School into a difficult division based on enrollment.

“We are getting better every day and – as with all competitive people – even if you are in a little bit tougher league, you find a way to rise. And our kids did do that and so did our coaches,” Cisterna said. “It was fun to see and I think in the years to come, it’s going to pay off.”

In July, current MHS Dean of Students Brian Winter will take over as district AD. The position is not entirely new to him, however. Winter was MHS athletic director in 2012.

Cisterna said Winter’s understanding of the district will be helpful to the position.

“He’ll step in and I don’t think there will be a missing of a beat at all. He’s got experience and he knows the school and he knows the community,” Cisterna said.

The former MUSD AD said although he is leaving, he will always care for the district and its athletic program.

“There is great family support out here and the community is lucky to have the quality of coaches that they have right now. I think Mr. Winter is going to step in and do a good job,” Cisterna said.

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Alfred Abraham

The following is the address delivered by Maricopa High School co-valedictorian Alfred Abraham to the Class of 2017 on graduation night, May 25.

By Alfred Abraham

My name is Alfred Abraham and I am proud to be the co-valedictorian of the Maricopa High School Class of 2017. I was originally born in India and spent the first three years of my life in Singapore. When I was 3 years old, my family moved to the United States.

I started out with a lot of difficulties. I acquired the ability to speak in sentences significantly later than most kids, at the age of 5. I was placed in special education because of my difficulties in speaking and writing. Countless nights were spent, tears were shed and plenty of teachers were contacted to get me where I am today.

I have exceeded the expectations of most people, but the credit for that achievement doesn’t just go to me; it goes to my parents and my younger sister Freya who always urged me to aim high.

In my four years in Maricopa High School, I have had many great experiences. One such experience was the time when I played the piano for the Jekyll and Hyde school musical during my sophomore year. Music is something that everyone loves. Whether it be jazz, pop or rap, the beats that bring us together are just like MHS, that makes us RAMily.

Another such experience was the time when I joined a robotics team that showed what could happen when good minds collaborate. Like any group project, we didn’t know quite where we were going, but we did our best, and we finaled at competition. In my life I’ve seen this theme repeat: You don’t have to have all the steps planned out to get to success; you just have to keep moving.

Throughout my high school career, I also had access to great teachers who paid attention to my needs much more than they were required to while maintaining high academic standards. I was given no excuses, and no reasons to do anything but my best. Counselors like Mr. Veltrie helped me pick classes that were best for my abilities. Without the help and the encouragement of all these people, I would not be here today.

In all honesty, I am so grateful that Maricopa was my high school. Nowhere else will you find such a collection of caring, dedicated teachers and friendly students that welcomed me into what was our four-year home.  To all of you, too many to name who have said hello or answered my email, thank you.

Everyone who is going to receive their diploma right now knows the value of sacrifice. The principle of scarcity of resources is something that is emphasized repeatedly in economics courses. This principle applies to time since time is, after all, a scarce resource. There is only so much of it.

Students who want to get decent enough grades to graduate on time must use their time wisely. It must not be wasted on distractions. All of us who are going to receive our diploma know this to be true. We have had to give up time checking social media, playing video games or whatever else we would rather do in order to study for tests and do assignments. Why do we do this? Because we know that the payoff, a high school diploma, is a major stepping stone to success in life.

To reach this step we all have gone through our own hills and valleys. We have all broken down at one point or another. We have all felt unworthy and incapable. We all know the temptation to give up. I remember telling myself, “It doesn’t matter anyway. At least I’ve gotten this far.” If I had listened to myself, then I wouldn’t be speaking to you now. Through all the obstacles we faced we kept going. I would like to congratulate you all for doing what it takes to be here today.

But not all of us are here. There are some who gave up, who were overwhelmed. Even now, plenty of us are wondering what we will do, and how we will do it.

There is one lesson I have learned in my life: The word “impossible” is not in the dictionary of God. So anyone who is going through difficulties of any kind – students, teachers, parents and relatives, remember this: If you set the bar too low, you’ll never see what you can reach.

Graduating high school is not the end of our journey; it is merely the beginning. It is a milestone to greater achievements in life. I encourage everyone here to continue working hard and achieving. Everything you have accomplished and endured is something that will really help in the real world.

With that, I would like to congratulate the entire class of 2017 once more for their achievement.  I really am thankful to be the co-valedictorian of this graduating class!


Alfred Abraham is a co-valedictorian of the Maricopa High School Class of 2017. He will attend Arizona State University.


This speech appears in the June issue of InMaricopa, courtesy of Alfred Abraham.

Pamela Crabajales. Photo by Victor Moreno

Maricopa High School graduate Pamela Crabajales received this year’s top scholarship from Desert Schools Federal Credit Union.

The company gave out $27,500 to seven Arizona seniors for their volunteer service within the community. Of that, $10,000 went to Crabajales, who plans to attend Grand Canyon University in the fall to earn a nursing degree. Learn more about her here.

She has volunteered more than 100 hours this year with the National Honor Society and Service Before Self. She began volunteering her freshman year after realizing how rewarding it was to give back to others.

Another MHS graduate is among other recipients from Desert Schools. Rachael Perez received $2,500.

“It is a tremendous honor to provide young members of our community with financial assistance for college, and to thank them for all they’ve done for others,” said Jeff Meshey, Desert Schools CEO. “They inspire me and our organization, and awarding these scholarships is something I look forward to every year.”

Students who are interested in applying for the 2018 Desert Schools Community Service Scholarship should begin their volunteer efforts immediately to help build up their necessary community service hours. Additionally, recipients must maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher to be eligible to apply for the scholarship program. Applications will start being accepted again this fall. Visit www.desertschools.org/scholarship for more details.

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Noah Salinas came to Maricopa High School for his senior year intent on being part of the sports teams. Photo by Victor Moreno

Most people, when faced with a life challenge, obscure their adversity and then hope to heavens it doesn’t reveal itself. Others dig in and face the opposing force head on.

Maricopa High School graduate Noah Salinas is without a doubt that second type.

Originally from Sterling, Colorado, Salinas, 18, was born missing the lower half of both legs along with his entire left hand, a condition referred to as tri-amelia. Such a condition can severely limit a person’s ability to function, sometimes forcing them into a wheelchair and/or a life of assisted-living.

For Salinas, nothing could be further from reality.

He became an athlete.

Before starting school, Salinas had no concept of being different. It didn’t dawn on him until he showed up the first day of kindergarten and saw other kids without prosthetics.

He returned home that day and received a rather straight-forward explanation from his parents, one that evidently had a major effect on the way he would later approach life.

Soon after discovering this potentially constraining position in life, around age 5 or 6, he found surprising success at one of the activities few would imagine he could even attempt – wrestling.

Noah Salinas upends an opponent in sectional competition. Photo by Victor Moreno

Salinas was a natural athlete, according to his mother Amber, and he became interested in other sports, including the very physical game of football. A few years after playing in a few pick-up games with his cousins, Noah joined a youth team in Colorado.

When trying new, daunting tasks Salinas claimed to never make much of a consideration for his condition.

“I don’t really think about it; I never really let it get to me,” Salinas said. “I just kind of try it and go from there.”

Others are not so capable of overlooking his prosthetics. For those people, Salinas has a special response.

“I would always just make jokes about myself,” he said. “So they knew I didn’t care and that I was going to do what I needed to do to be successful in life.”

While growing up, Salinas switched back and forth periodically between football and wrestling. In 2015, after his family came to Arizona, Noah attended Williams Field High School in Higley and made the football team. Due to the coaches’ attempts to shelter Noah, his mother said, he was never allowed to play in games.

Noah was the recipient of the national Sports Authority Courage Award in 2016.

His family decided to bring him out to Maricopa, where they hoped he would have a chance at playing. Again, he was not on the field much. But, like much of his life, he never really let that get him down.

“I guess they [football coaches] were afraid of me getting hurt,” Salinas said. “I understand that.”

With all the focus on football, he avoided the mat most of his high school career until his senior year, when he thought he’d give it one last try.

He finished with an almost even record at 16 wins and 18 losses in the 182-pound weight class, pinning six of those opponents and earning a respectable 85 points for his team throughout the season.

To give himself better purchase on the mat, Salinas removes his prosthetics when wrestling and instead dawns rubberized socks. Removing his prosthetics gives him another advantage as well.

He towers over most opponents when wearing his prosthetics, standing well over 6-feet tall. However, with his legs removed, he is slightly shorter than most of his opponents, making it more difficult to take him down.

“That makes it so they can’t really get to me the same,” Salinas said.

Photo by Victor Moreno

All athletic prowess aside, Salinas is an otherwise typical teenager, with concerns about girls and friends. But most importantly, Noah is looking to the future.

Hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps, Salinas is considering a career in welding. And though he hardly ever wears his prosthetic hand because it causes discomfort, he has conceded when it comes to welding he will most likely have to have some sort of prosthetic.

Because of work, Salinas’s family had to return to the Higley-Queen Creek area this year before school could finish. Fortunately for Salinas, he said, his close friend and fellow MHS wrestler Kevin McDill has a “really great” family who offered to let Noah stay through graduation.

Wrestling head coach Erick Fierro chats with Noah Salinas on graduation night.

Salinas plans to attend one of the community colleges in the area to receive the vocational training needed to become a professional welder.

He isn’t afraid of any barriers he could face in the often rough-neck field of metal workers and welders. He simply plans to stay true to his philosophy.

“When somebody says, ‘you can’t do it,’ and I do it anyways, it proves them wrong,” Salinas said. “I like proving them wrong.”

Salinas shows off his prosthetics, a version of which he has worn since childhood. Photo by Mason Callejas

This story appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

Locally, Derrick Warford is known as the defensive coordinator for Maricopa High School's football team. But he wants to spread physical and emotional wellness among all youth. Photo by William Lange

Born with a heart defect that caused him two heart attacks before his 36th birthday, Derrick Warford wants to spread wellness among the youth – physically, mentally and behaviorally.

IF YOU GO
What: AZEA Wellness Tour
When: June 24, 9 a.m-6 p.m.
Where: Ram Stadium, Maricopa High School, 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave.
How much: Event is free; 7-on-7 Passing Tournament $175 per team
Info: Facebook.com/AZEACLUB

A social services technician and one-time professional football player, Warford is an assistant football coach at Maricopa High School and heads AZ Elite Athletics Wellness Services (AZEA) to provide training and resources for school-age athletes.

“I’ve always been training athletes,” he said.

Wellness is usually top of mind for him personally. He has known since he was a child his condition would get chancy as he got older. He never let the issue keep him away from athletics or his mission to prepare kids for life.

This month, AZEA is hosting a “Wellness Tour” at Maricopa High School’s Ram Stadium. Warford said the expo is focused on mindfulness and wellness. Whether teen players come to him to find a way to use athletics to gain an education or a career or just physical discipline, he wants them to learn young the consequences of decisions they make.

The June 24 event is planned to have four major components. A “Wellness Fest” and community market will have community businesses, vendors, organizations and clubs along with artists and musicians providing resources. A “Youth Engagement Zone” is an active area with games, bounce houses, arts and crafts, raffles and special guests. The free Athletic Skills Camp is for boys and girls age 8-12 who want a try at circuit training, speed drills and a combine course.

Derrick Warford’s AZ Elite Athletics Wellness Services will host a wellness tour and 7-on-7 football passing tournament in Maricopa on June 24.

A main draw is a “Prove It” 7-on-7 football passing tournament and team combine, featuring varsity and junior varsity players from Maricopa and surrounding communities. Team entry is $175.

Warford said proceeds will benefit Be Awesome Youth Coalition, The Streets Don’t Love You Back, Maricopa Rams and Hope for Kids.

He likes to instill “the power of athletic thoughts” through constant repetition and self-awareness. When a student quits or rages or makes another bad decision, he walks them through the process of evaluating their own reaction.

“I say, ‘Ask yourself what was your trigger. What was that moment?’” he said.

A native of Macon, Georgia, Warford played football at Alabama State University. Undrafted after graduation, he signed as a free agent with the Tennessee Titans in 2006. A preseason knee injury hastened his departure from the pro ranks.

He moved to Arizona in 2008. Soured a bit on football, he worked with at-risk youth in his social services capacity. He started AZEA in 2009, building more relationships with youths and Valley coaches. Warford got married and moved to Maricopa the same year, 2014. When he heard MHS was looking for volunteers in its basketball program, he reached out, flirting with the idea of coaching the freshmen.

That position was already filled, however.

“But they knew about my football background, and [Athletic Director Mark] Cisterna caught me on a good day and asked me about the football team,” Warford said.

“He kind of fell into our laps,” said Rams head coach Chris McDonald, who brought him in as a defensive line coach.”

Warford said it didn’t take long for the football “bug” to take hold again. “The freshmen bought into me because of the NFL thing,” he said.

At the end of the year, McDonald sat him down and offered him the job of defensive coordinator.

“He’s very demanding but respectful,” McDonald said. “He’s really good with the kids.”

Warford and his wife Raven both deal with medical challenges, he with his heart and she with epilepsy. Never again wanting to have to drive himself to the hospital in the middle of a heart attack, he worked to lose weight and control his blood pressure. The goal-setting he preaches to the kids is still getting a workout in his own life.


This story appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

Maricopa High School Theatre Company performed a scene from "Beauty & the Beast" at the ASU Gammage High School Musical Theater Awards June 3. Lillian Chitwood and Carlos O. Venegas were nominated for lead performances, and Venegas won for Outstanding Vocalist. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

It was as close as most Arizona high school students will get to the Tony Awards.

Maricopa High School students showed off just a bit of their production of “Beauty & the Beast” Saturday and walked away with two of the top honors at the ASU Gammage High School Musical Theater Awards.

The evening offered a revue of 19 of the top high school musical productions in the state this school year. Troupes performed a number or a medley of songs from their big musicals, which had been adjudicated by a panel comprised of teachers, ASU faculty and theater students.

Nikolas Mase, now an MHS graduate, played Lumiere in “Beauty & the Beast.” Out of 31 nominees, he received the award for Outstanding Supporting Performance – Male.

Nikolas Mase receives the award for Outstanding Supporting Performance. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said.

In a field of 46 nominees, Carlos O. Venegas was named Outstanding Vocalist for his performance as the Beast. Having to run to the stage from the back of the hall, he was in shock.

“I didn’t think I was going to get anything,” he said.

It was a unique experience for MHS students. It was the third year of the GHSMT awards but the first year Maricopa had participated.

“It was a lot of work, work, work, but we just had to make sure that we were in our places at the right time,” Mase said. “We took a tour of the Gammage to get us aware of where we were going to be running around.”

Director Cynthia Calhoun selected “Something There” for her students to perform from the show because it included most of those who had been nominated.

After having mixed with several of the other actors at other state competitions and hearing them talk about their musicals, Venegas said he liked being able to see the troupes “in action.” It was a learning experience for Calhoun as well.

“I get to see what other high schools are doing and learn from that,” Calhoun said. “I have validation that we’re on the right track, that what we’re doing is really good and we’re doing what we should be doing.”

Still in full makeup from his performance, Carlos O. Venegas receives the award for Outstanding Vocalist. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa High School’s other individual nominees:
Best Lead Male: Carlos O. Venegas
Best Lead Female: Lillian Chitwood
Outstanding Supporting Performance (Male): Jeron Hlebasko
Outstanding Supporting Performance (Female): Tyler Curtis, Brook Perona
Outstanding Vocalist: Tyler Curtis, Nikolas Mase
Outstanding Dancer: Stirling Luckey

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Maricopa High School baseball coach Andrew Pollack is hosting the annual Rams Youth Camp on June 28-30.

The camp is for kids entering third through eighth grade. The camp is 8-10 a.m. each day at the high school baseball field. Participants are asked to arrive by 7:45 a.m. on the first day.

Bring baseball cleats, tennis shoes, baseball pants and belt, hat, glove and bat. Catchers are encouraged to bring their gear.

Cost is $50 per player. Makes checks payable to MHS Rams Homerun. Find registration form here.

The camp will focus on base running, defense, offense and arm care. There will be a Q&A period with the Rams coaching staff and current players.

For more information, contact coach Pollack at apollak@musd20.org.

The cast of "Beauty and the Beast" put on a show. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Adjudicators from Arizona State University Gammage came to see “Beauty and the Beast,” the Mariciopa High School Theatre Company’s spring musical. With this adjudication, the students and the department are competing for Outstanding Musical at the Gammage High School Musical Theatre Awards, to take place on June 3 at 7 p.m. at Gammage Auditorium at ASU.

“Not only are we competing as a company for our whole musical, but students were nominated in their particular roles,” theater instructor Cyndi Calhoun said.

MHS Nominees:
Best Lead Male – Carlos O. Venegas (Beast)
Best Lead Female – Lillian Chitwood (Belle)
Best Supporting Male – Nikolas Mase (Lumiere)
Best Supporting Female – Brook Perona (Wardrobe)
Outstanding Dancer – Chaienne Zoller
Outstanding Vocalist – Carlos O. Venegas

The Best Lead Male and Female from Gammage’s Awards night will have the opportunity to travel to New York City this summer and compete in the 2017 Jimmy Awards (the high school version of the Tony Awards).

To attend Gammage’s awards night and see Maricopa students perform one of the numbers from “Beauty and the Beast,” purchase tickets ($5 each) or for more information CLICK HERE

“Even though the event is general seating, the event is definitely a red carpet affair,” Calhoun said. “Please wish the following students ‘break a leg’ when you see them.”

 

Seniors (from left) Andrea Gallegos, Stephanie Palafox, Juliette Hawthorn, Makailah Hogg and Sabrina Montoya. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Maricopa High School softball team ended a difficult year Thursday with a region loss to McClintock, 18-4. The Rams also said goodbye to five senior players that night after posting an overall record of 4-23.

 “We were really young, but we really learned a lot this year,” coach Brandi Howell said. “Every game we were making progress. When we were losing, we were making progress, and that’s huge.”

In their first year in the 5A Metro region, the girls were 1-9, defeating only Kellis. The Rams started the season with several inexperienced players.

 Howell said the beginning and end of the year were like “night and day.” She saw improvement throughout the season and said the girls were making difficult plays they could not have made at the beginning of the year.

 “Our mindset became different,” she said. “Even when we might not have been executing sometimes, our mind was there. We knew where to go before panicking a little bit.”

 Howell said even an umpire questioned whether she had the same team she had at the beginning of the year. “He said, ‘I know they’re losing, but they look so much better,’” Howell recalled.

 At the end of the game, Maricopa’s seniors handed out flowers to McClintock’s seniors. They were then honored by the team and families and were upbeat about the experience.

 “I’d like to give a shout-out to my teammates for making this a great last season for me,” senior Sabrina Montoya said.

 “My favorite memories were bonding with the team on bus rides, warmups and practice,” senior Andrea Gallegos said.

 A newcomer on the team this year, senior Makailah Hogg said her favorite memory was “pulling a Willie Mays catch that Coach Steve [Weiner] taught me.”

 For senior Juliette Hawthorn it was a painful but funny memory of running into the outfield fence. And for senior Montoya, it was diving into third base and home plate “because I wanted to get dirty.”

 Senior Stephanie Palafox thanked her teammates for making the season fun and her coaches Howell, Weiner and Tom Dugan for their time and effort.

 Though this season “didn’t pan out the way we wanted it to,” Howell thinks the team will come back strong in 2018.

 “I think we’ll have a pretty strong set of infielders coming back,” she said. “We’ll have to replace our outfield, but any time you can have a returning pitcher, it’s huge.”

More than a 100 math students from Maricopa High School competed at the Central Arizona College Math Competition. Submitted photo

On April 10, Maricopa High School mathematics teachers Grant Hanks, Jerri Early, Morgan Dalton, Rebecca Walker and Chris Ansley took 110 students to the Central Arizona College Math Competition at the Signal Peak Campus.

The students did a fantastic job and represented Maricopa High School well. Maricopa High School won first place in the School Sweepstakes, and 55 students qualified for the individual competition. MHS students won the following individual awards:

• Sharoon Balaguer Portillo and Alize Ramos won the Level 1 Team Competition (Algebra 1)

• Noel Avendanio and Patrick Flint won the Level 2 Team Competition (Geometry & Algebra 2)

• Chandler Chang placed 2nd in the individual competition

• Carter Paine placed 3rd in the individual competition

• Conner Paine place 4th in the individual competition

 

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The members of the 4x100-meter relay team - Darrell Handy, Frank Jones, P.J. Austin and Longman Pyne - all won multiple medals at the Maricopa Twilight. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Maricopa High School boys’ track and field team battled Basha for supremacy in the annual Maricopa Twilight meet Friday, ultimately finishing second out of nine teams. Unofficial results

The MHS girls’ team finished fifth. The athletes posted 37 personal bests during the competition at Ram Stadium. The event also served as Senior Night for the team.


Junior Phillip (P.J.) Austin and senior Terrell Handy picked up three gold medals each, competing individually and in relays. Frank Jones earned two golds and a bronze. Kyle O’Hare and Longman Pyne also won two events apiece, and Darrell Handy picked up gold, silver and bronze.

Austin won the 100-meter dash in 11.25, while Jones placed third. Austin also won the long jump with a personal record 22-3.5. Jones turned around and won the 200-meter-dash in a personal record of 22.90. Both were part of the victorious 4X100-meter relay team with Darrell Handy and Longman Pyne.

Pyne joined O’Hare, Terrell Handy and Chris Singh in winning the 4×400-meter relay.

O’Hare posted a personal record in winning the 400-meter dash in 50.96. Logan Taylor won the 110-meter high hurdles in 16.10, a personal best for him. Terrell Handy won the triple jump in 44 feet even and the high jump in 6-foor-2. His brother Darrell was second in the high jump and third in the triple jump.

The 4×800 relay team of Singh, Mark Mwangi, Sam Coles and Josh Valdez placed third.

Among the Maricopa girls, sophomore Kayla Boich walked away with two silver medals. She finished second in the long jump and was part of the second-place 4×100 team with Sydni Callis, Destinee Chavis and Saneya Cowing.

Sophomore Shannon Coutre was just off her school record in the 400 but finished second in her season-best time of 1:02.89. Italy Brookshire earned bronze medal in the high jump.

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