Tags Articles tagged with "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.

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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The Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Wit" will be on stage Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

As the human body shuts down, the mind can race into strange territory. The battle between the intellectual and the physical, poetry and science in the last days of life is at the center of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Wit,” to be performed Saturday by the Maricopa High School Theatre Company.

If You Go
What: “Wit”
When: April 1, 2 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Where: Black Box Theatre on west side to MHS Performing Arts Center, 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave.
Who: MHS Theatre Company
How much: Free (donations encouraged)

“Wit” is the second student-directed production of the season, following the entertaining whodunit “And Then There Were None.”

Directed by senior Carlos Venegas, “Wit” has a cast of students and teachers. Performances are at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the Black Box Theatre at the Performing Arts Center.

“I’ve wanted to direct a show ever since my sophomore year, and this year it’s actually become a reality,” Venegas said.

He and “Wit” have something of a history.

“I’ve done projects on it since my sophomore year, and it kept coming up,” he said. “Finally, we were like, ‘Let’s just do it.’”

The partnered project two years ago included creating a technical design with which he was not satisfied. He tackled it again his junior year and was much happier with the results.

“That’s when I really grew attached to the show,” Venegas said.

First performed in 1995 and written by Margaret Edson, the play has appeared on and off-Broadway, winning Obie and Tony awards.

The central character, Vivian Bearing, is a professor of English literature in the final stages of terminal ovarian cancer. She is undergoing relentless tests and has become the subject of study by medical students in the hospital. And she is not exactly likeable.

“She is a very cold, uncompromising, very highly-motivated, driven professor,” said MHS drama instructor Cynthia Calhoun, who plays Vivian. “She comes across as actually incredibly mean. For her, knowledge is everything.”

The script is comprised of many monologues for Vivian as she tries to approach her fate cerebrally at first. Her specialty is the 17th century poetry of John Donne, whose metaphysical work plays a big part in her mental exercises as she deals with bad news after bad news.

A clinical fellow on the oncology team is one of her former students (played by Collin Martin), but it is soon clear he is not very different from Vivian – sentiment-free – and his interest in her is only as a scientific study rather than a dying human needing kindness.

Not just a keen portrait of the cancer experience, “Wit” is intellectual, stark, transforming and often bitingly funny.

“I majored in English when I first found this play when I was doing my master’s degree in English, and I wrote about it and loved it,” Calhoun said. “Something struck me about this character. She’s having to live with this illness, and it’s terminal, and she knows it’s going to kill her; she knows it’s going to affect her quality of life, and she knows they’re trying to do research. Me personally, I live with chronic illness, and there’s no cure, no treatment for it. I completely understand that feeling like a little piece of her body is giving up as she goes through this. Each new scene, it’s like another piece is done.”

Venegas said directing has been an education.

“I had no idea about a lot of the stuff that happens behind the scenes because I’ve always been on stage,” he said. He’s been helped out by assistant director Rachel Blakely, who also stepped in to play a role.

While Calhoun has enjoyed not having the burden of directing “And Then There Were None” and “Wit,” it has been a challenge keeping her fingers out of the decision-making process.

“I know all of the little pieces of things that need to happen for it all to come together, and the hard part for me is not jumping in and saying, ‘You need to do this and this and this,’” she said. “Carlos is perfectly capable of that, but there’s a point where he has to figure out how he’s going to get certain technical things done, how he’s going to make set changes happen.

“It’s been kind fun to watch.”

Students auditioned for most of the roles, but Venegas directly asked Calhoun and teacher Tyler Miller, who plays Dr. Kelekian. It is his stage debut.

Rounding out the cast are Kari Bejmowicz, Nikolas Mase, Ivie Keene, Chaienne Zoller, Aleyna Call and Mahkai Ball.

Admission is free, but donations are encouraged to help defray costs of sending state-qualifying student-actors to national competition this summer.

Still to come April 20-22 is the MHS Theatre Company’s big spring musical, “Beauty & the Beast.”

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.

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.

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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Team leader Tyra Williams struggled to score in the first half against Ironwood Ridge in a loss that ended the season. Photo by William Lange

Maricopa High School girls’ basketball season came to an end in the first round of the state playoffs Tuesday night.

The eighth-seeded Rams fell on their home court to No. 9 Ironwood Ridge, 52-46, in the 5A bracket.

The game was anticipated to be close, with the teams having similar strengths, but it was not expected to be as messy as it was, especially in the early going.

Maricopa shooting was ice cold though opportunities to score were abundant. Both teams racked up turnovers, especially traveling violations, as the referees kept a tight rein on the action. Passes often went awry, making execution even more difficult in a tense game.

The score was tied for the first and only time with 3:44 to go in the first quarter.  Then the Nighthawks pulled away. Maricopa moved close just once more in the middle of the second quarter but could never put together a run.

Ironwood Ridge led 22-14 at halftime, with Maricopa’s top score being six points from junior Jayla Johnson. In the second half, the majority of the scoring came from senior Tyra Williams and junior Sydni Callis, but that was only enough to hang with the Nighthawks and not overtake them.

The Rams were 19-4 overall this season and tied with Ironwood atop the 5A Metro standings.

Maricopa              6   8   11   21 — 46

Ironwood Ridge  11  11  11  19 — 52

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Submitted photo

Thursday, the Maricopa High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Honor Guard was invited by Sen. Steve Smith to present the colors at the beginning of the work day for the Arizona State Senate. The students in the Honor Guard were Steel Lewis, Hayley Mase, Dylan Hill and Alexander Odell. Ian Mase was the alternate. Sen. Steve Yarbrough, president of the Arizona State Senate said, “Thank you to the Maricopa High School Air Force Junior ROTC program. Well done.” The AFJROTC program is under the leadership of Lt. Col. Allen Kirksey and Master Sgt. Dishon Gregory.

Senior Tyra Williams scored a career high 33 points as the Maricopa High School girls basketball team defeated McClintock 83-35 Tuesday night.

It was their last home game. They play at Williams Field tonight and at Apollo to end the regular season on Feb. 7.

The Rams are also gearing up for the post-season, where they hope for a high seeding in the 5A tournament. After the McClintock game, coach Melvin Mitchell spoke about some of the past weaknesses they are working to overcome:


The Rams had two other players in double-digit scoring against McClintock. Sopomore Jayla Johnson put up 15 points, and junior Sydni Callis scored 13. Senior Clara Morris added eight.

“The bench did a little bit better tonight,” Mitchell said. “They stepped in and gave us some good, valuable minutes on defense. Kyla Boyce really helped us a lot with the put backs and  rebounding, so I definitely glad to have her back and her 6-2, 6-3 frame. Just being long in girls’ basketball, it means a lot.”

The Rams are 12-2 in the conference and tied with Ironwood at the top of 5A Metro with records of 8-1. They have a split record against Ironwood this season.

Despite the win against struggling McClintock, Maricopa’s power ranking dropped from ninth to 10th in 5A this week. If that stands, they would host the 23rd ranked team in the conference play-in Feb. 9. If they are able to climb above the ninth ranking, they can get directly into the state bracket.

It has been an odd year for the girls, who are 19-4 overall. A Dec. 6 game against Poston Butte that appeared to be a win was cancelled by the Arizona Interscholastic Association after a scorekeeping mistake. Then the Dec. 2 freshman and junior varsity games against Campo Verde were forfeited when it was discovered one freshman played all quarters in the freshman game and three quarters in the JV game. All three coaches were reprimanded and AIA placed the program on “advisement” for a year.

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MHS tuba players Katherine Espinoza and Chance Ackerson. Submitted photo

The Maricopa High School Band and Orchestra Programs had 11 students audition for the Arizona Music Educators’ Association Central Region Honor Band and Orchestra on Saturday at Desert Ridge High School in Mesa.

Tuba player Chance Ackerson was named to the region band for the second straight year.
Tuba player Katherine Espinoza was named second alternate and will be called up to perform if needed.

Music Instructor Ivan Pour stated, “This is an extremely rigorous audition process. Students have to prepare three etudes, perform 2 scales (chosen by judges), and sight read. Our region is one of the most competitive in the state with many large and successful music programs in it, including all the Gilbert district high schools, Mesa Mountain View, and many others. This is a big accomplishment for these students. Please congratulate them!”

The rehearsals for the band will be Feb. 17-18 at Mesa Mountain View High School, with the performance of the region, orchestra, band and choir at 2:30 on Feb. 18 also at Mountain View. The band clinician this year is AMEA President Jennifer Hamilton.

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Danae Ruiz

Maricopa High School graduate Danae Ruiz is leading her new team in scoring.

Midway through its inaugural season, the women’s basketball team at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is 6-6.

In those 12 games, Ruiz has scored 169 points for a 14.1 average. She also has 50 rebounds,38 assists and 19 steals.

Saturday, she had a “career game” at Simpson University in Redding, California. In an ERAU loss, Ruiz scored 31 points. She shot 10-for-15 from the field and 7-for-9 from behind the arc. She was 4-for-4 from the free-throw line.

Ruiz is a 5-foot-5 guard for the Eagles, a team comprised primarily of freshmen. She is majoring in forensic psychology.

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Maricopa Rams wrestling team seniors include (from left) Marc Fairburn, Jaylen Nash, Jackson Stensgard, Robert Beecroft, Noah Salinas, Luis Alvarez and Dakota Halverson. Photo by William Lange

The Maricopa High School Wrestling team put its largely rookie squad to the test at their home meet Nov. 30 claiming a victory in one of two match-ups.

The Rams handily defeated an ill-equipped Notre Dame Prep at their first of two home meets this season with eight wins by forfeit, two by decision and one by fall. Maricopa wrestlers claimed victories at all but one match-up where Maricopa’s 170-pounder David Skelton was pinned by Notre Dame’s Brock Locrikar one minute and 42 seconds into the first round.

Campo Verde put up a much stronger fight, defeating the Rams in 11 of 14 match-ups. Maricopa wrestlers Tylen Coleman (220 pounds), Randy Figueroa (145 pounds) and Kevin McDill (120 pounds), however, all claimed victories by pinning their opponents.

Head coach Erik Fierro is well-pleased with his wrestlers despite mixed results from the first meet. He acknowledges with such an inexperienced team many of his wrestlers still have a lot to learn, but despite their novice level the newcomers are doing well with the responsibilities of being a varsity wrestler.

“I’m really proud of my young wrestlers,” Fierro said. “I expect my seniors to do good, but the new guys are taking on a lot.”

Fierro’s main goal this year is not only to bring home victories but also to expand and strengthen the program by tapping into the potential of athletes from other sports. One of his major selling points in this effort is an appeal to athletes with a more individualistic nature.

“With wrestling, you are the reason you win or lose,” Fierro said.

Wrestling is a sport that also offers others a chance to become more well-rounded athletes who, after wrestling, return to their primary sports with a whole new skill set.

“I’ll take anyone who wants to improve their main sport skills,” Fierro said. “There are a lot of lessons to be learned from wrestling.”

Fierro worked tirelessly during the off season with coaches and directors of other athletic organizations in an attempt to add depth to this year’s roster. As a result of his efforts, Fierro has produced a nearly complete though rookie squad with only the 103-pound and 113-pound weight classes empty.

Wrestling for the Rams this season are three advanced wrestlers, all seniors, who Fierro believes have the potential to make it to the state level. Luis Alvarez (126 pounds), Randy Figueroa (145 pounds) and Dakota Halverson (285 pounds) all bring a level of skill and leadership to the mat this year that could prove invaluable to the team’s success.

Fierro also hopes to see growth in support for the organization. He’s encouraging families and community members to attend matches, home and away, to energize the wrestlers and help push the team to victory.

The Rams compete Wednesday at Tempe High School.

Coach Tony Fuller is adjusting from private school to public school demands. His boys' basketball team at MHS won its first four games. Photo by Mason Callejas

When Maricopa High School hired Tony Fuller as head basketball coach, district officials knew they were getting a seasoned coach, college star and former NBA player to lead the team. They may be getting much more.

Fuller has a storied college and professional career, having played at Pepperdine University and for the Detroit Pistons. Now, at age 57, he is starting to see how important it is his team is not only winning games but his players are prepared for what awaits them after graduation.

“He talks to us every day about life and teaches us real-world stuff,” junior Josh Johnson said.

Junior El Jones also recognizes the active role their new coach is playing as a mentor and appreciates that Fuller is putting such an emphasis on things larger than the sport itself.

“He really tries to prepare us for life after basketball. He focuses on education and things like that,” Jones said. “He wants you to go to college for education first, and then basketball second.”

Having been a starter in the education game for so long, Fuller knows what it means for students who don’t take school seriously. He knows for so many underprivileged young people the best path to a successful future begins with a proper education.

“As a black educator I’m deeply concerned with the black youth of today,” Fuller said. “When you look at the statistics it doesn’t paint a very good picture. It saddens me sometimes to see what I perceive to be a future that isn’t very bright.”

Like any coach, Fuller wants a winning team. But by using his position as an educator and coach, he wants to equip all his students and players with the skills necessary to become productive members of society.

Photo by Mason Callejas
Photo by Mason Callejas

“Hopefully I can do my little part not only with the black students but all the students to maybe guide them on a path that leads to a better outcome,” Fuller said.

Fuller was hired last spring after the resignation of Jake Neill. After 10 years coaching for Brophy College Prep he was let go in 2015 but stayed on staff to teach. When he heard about the need for a basketball coach at MHS he applied for the position. Out of a pool of 40 other applicants Fuller was offered the position.

“I wanted to get back into coaching on a high school level, and I wanted to stay in the Phoenix area,” Fuller said. “[Maricopa] seemed like a nice place, and it seemed like a good school.”

The transition from private to public institution hasn’t been easy.

“So far it’s been a learning experience for me. I feel like a 60-year-old rookie,” Fuller said. “I taught at a private school for 10 years, and the difference between the private and the public is night and day. There are a lot more checks and balances at the school, a lot more meetings, a lot more paperwork.”

Fuller is embracing the change, though, and is constantly looking to the future. His dreams are not only to coach the team to victory, but to create a place where his players can become role models for other students and the city as a whole.

“My hope is that we can develop these young people into productive gentlemen, students and basketball players,” Fuller said. “My hope is that our program can be something that the community can look at with a sense of pride.”

December Schedule
Dec. 1    H    Queen Creek                     7 p.m.
Dec. 2   @    Campo Verde                    7 p.m.
Dec. 6   @    Poston Butte                     7 p.m.
Dec. 9   @    Mtn. View (Marana)          7 p.m.
Dec. 13 @    Willow Canyon                 7 p.m.
Dec. 15  H    Casa Grande                       7 p.m.
Dec. 16 @    Ironwood                           7 p.m.
Dec. 29-30    Coolidge Tournament    TBA

This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

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 Maricopa defense tries to drag down Apollo in Friday nights game in Glendale. Photo by William Lange

The Maricopa Rams’ football game at Apollo Friday night started badly and ended badly, and wasn’t very pretty in between.

A 40-16 loss to their 5A Metro rival moved MHS’s record to 4-3.

“Our kids played like they didn’t want to play,” Maricopa head coach Chris McDonald said.

He told his players the loss could be chalked up to a particularly unmotivated week of practice and should be a wakeup call.

“I think my kids realize that you play like you practice,” he said. “We were dead all week and we were dead during the game. We had our seniors pointing it out.”

Apollo had Maricopa’s defense back on its heels from the start. Sophomore quarterback Frank Sanchez received good protection from his line to move his team down field, opening with four straight first downs against the Rams.

The Hawks scored first on a rush from Roderick Lockett from the 25 at the 6:38 point in the first quarter. Maricopa’s first possession ended with a fumble in the end zone that turned into a safety, and Apollo was quickly up 9-0.

Kenny Oliver goes up for a pass reception late in the game. Photo by William Lange
Kenny Oliver goes up for a pass reception late in the game. Photo by William Lange

Apollo kicker Pedro Armenta kicked a field goal with 1:58 left in the quarter to extend the lead, 12-0.

Maricopa at last got within field goal range at 7:35 in the second quarter, and senior kicker Sam Aviles kicked it through from the 30 for the Rams’ first three points. They did not score again until the fourth quarter.

The Hawks, meanwhile, scored another touchdown with Lockett running. An attempted field goal by Apollo in the waning seconds of the half failed, and Maricopa went into the locker room down 19-3.

The Maricopa defense started to show its old spark in the third quarter, making a field goal stand and recovering a fumble. Neither offense fared particularly well until Apollo scored on a passing play from the 1 yard line for a 26-3 lead.

Maricopa’s first touchdown came in the top of the fourth quarter with junior Cameron Sanders running the ball in, and Aviles hitting the extra point.

Apollo answered with a 28-yard scoring pass to go up 33-10 with 6:15 left in the game. More than a minute later, Maricopa scored on a 35-yard pass from senior Zach Bachelder to senior receiver Kenny Oliver. An attempt at a two-point conversion failed.

The Hawks scored again on a 34-yard run by Lockett to solidify the win.

“Our kids didn’t quit,” McDonald said. “It was 40-16, and they were still out there giving it their all.”

Maricopa had 10 first downs to Apollo’s 19.

Bachelder and sophomore Jathan Washington combined for 153 passing yards. Bachelder was 8-for-26, Washington 1-for-1.

The running corps was held to just 93 yards rushing. Washington had 37 yards on 14 carries. Sanders had nine carries for 25 yards.

Senior Claytin Valenzuela led the defense with 12 total tackles, and senior Daveon Harris had two sacks.

Next week is fall break, which may be good or bad as the team prepares to host Sunnyslope.

“The good thing is, we’re going to spend much more time on playing football Monday through Thursday, I promise you that,” McDonald said.

“Playoffs start next Friday,” he said, explaining that every game now is a must-win.

Though Apollo is now only 3-4 overall, the Hawks are 2-0 in region play, tied at the top with Kellis. Maricopa and Sunnyslope are both 1-1 in 5A Metro competition.

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Merry Grace

By Merry Grace

Thank you! Two words that mean so much and are extended to so many. Maricopa, thank you for an amazing Homecoming Week for our MHS Rams. The love and support felt means so much to all of our Rams.

Thank you to every single teacher, parent, student, alumni and community member who helped with the planning and coordinating of all the events throughout the week. All of the hard work paid off. The smiles on faces as they joined in the celebration were an indication that all the time and effort you put into the week, was well worth it.

Thank you to all of our volunteers who helped make the events possible including the City of Maricopa, AK Chin, CERT volunteers, Maricopa Police, City of Maricopa Fire Dept, Maricopa Police Explorers and to all of the numerous community members who volunteered throughout the week. These events could not have happened if not for your help!

Thank you to all of the businesses who participated in Paint the Town Red and Ramily Night. Your support is contagious and means so much to our Rams. Ram Pride Fever was everywhere!

Thank you to everyone who participated in and who came out to support Ram Fest. Special thank you goes out to Jamie Bowen-West for coordinating it. This was our second year, which was bigger than last year. Ram Pride fever was felt throughout the evening. Thank you to Edward Farrell and the many others who coordinated the alumni game. The friendly rivalry continues every year.

Thank you to all those who helped make that bonfire seen from those entering Maricopa off of 347.That was our biggest bonfire yet and the memories will last a lifetime! Thank you to not only those who helped donate pallets but to those who delivered and built the stack. Special thank you to our Fire Dept, who made sure everything was safe and who started that fire. Thank you to our Cert members and Police Explorers who kept us all at a safe distance.

Thank you to Maricopa for coming out to fill the stands to help cheer on our team to a victory. Thank you to the many boosters who work so hard to ensure the behind-the-scenes of the game is coordinated. Thank you to all our booster supporters who make so many things possible!.

Thank you to every single future Ram, alumni member, local business, city leader, local candidate, student, parent, teacher and community member who came out to support all of our Rams throughout the week. The support does amazing things for our Rams and means so much to all of us.

There is no doubt that our small but growing town is filled with hometown spirit. The love felt increases school spirit and leads to amazing things. From this proud Mom, I thank you for that love. To all of our future Rams – we see you! We look forward to welcoming you to our Ramily soon. Let’s continue the Ram Pride all year Maricopa!

Merry Grace is a resident of Maricopa.

A traditional bonfire caps RamFest during Homecoming Week for Maricopa High School. Photo by William Lange

Thursday’s “Ramily” RamFest at Copper Sky was part of Homecoming Week for Maricopa High School. It was followed by an alumni game of flag football and the traditional bonfire.

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Maricopa sophomore Jathan Washington finds open ground against Paradise Valley while racking up 130 yards rushing and scoring three touchdowns. Photo by William Lange

Despite a shaky start trying to defend the pass, the Maricopa High School football team came back against Paradise Valley for a 48-33 win in the Rams’ home opener Friday.

Maricopa scored four touchdowns in the fourth quarter to pull away from the Trojans in what was a hard-fought game. The offense relied heavily on an energized running game. Sophomore Jathan Washington carried the ball 10 times, totaling 130 yards and three touchdowns.

He also threw for two touchdowns in play-action as the offense kept Paradise Valley guessing. They were his only two passes of the game, both to senior Kenny Oliver.

For the first time in his career, junior Devin Parady started at quarterback, still filling in for injured Zach Bachelder. Parady completed 13 of 20 passes for 124 yards.

“To be thrown in the fire like that in a varsity game, I thought he did really well,” head coach Chris McDonald said. “I can’t really ask for more from a kid that’s thrown in a position like that. So I’m proud of him.”

The Trojans scored on their first two possessions on long passes. In the opening possession, the Rams’ defensive back fell down.

“In the second one, our safety got caught looking in the back field,” McDonald said. “We corrected it. Both guys got back in. Both guys delivered later on in the game.”


Seniors Mekhi Burch (77) and Johnny Smith prepare to take the field. Photo by William Lange
Seniors Mekhi Burch (77) and Johnny Smith prepare to take the field. Photo by William Lange

Junior Cameron Sanders did much of the short-yardage grunt work, carrying the ball 11 times for 44 yards and scoring the lead touchdown. The Rams scored again at the top of the second quarter on a muffed snap that saw Washington recover the ball and pass it to Oliver for a 62-yard touchdown catch.

That tied the game at 14, but Paradise Valley scored on its next possession, another pass with 10:20 on the clock.

Washington scored from the 11 with 2:49 left to tie the score at 21 at halftime.

The Trojans had the only touchdown of the third quarter, but Oliver blocked the point-after attempt. That allowed the Rams to take the lead after their next touchdown to open the fourth quarter, a 71-yard run by junior Kemo Akins. Senior Sam Aviles proved to be the superior kicker in the game, and his PAT put Maricopa up 28-27.

After Maricopa’s second score of the quarter, another run by Washington followed by an Aviles PAT, the Trojans returned the kickoff for a touchdown. They failed, however, at a 2-point conversion in an attempt to tie the score.

Maricopa ran off with the game from that point. The Rams had 481 total yards, 248 of them rushing. Oliver had 131 yards receiving on five receptions. Aviles was 6-for-7 in point-after attempts.

Next up for Maricopa is Tucson Desert View (1-0). McDonald said he and his coaches have had little chance to look at the Jaguars yet. The game starts at 7 p.m. at Ram Stadium.


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Evan Grace at the Arizona Capitol. Photo by Merry Grace

An incoming sophomore at Maricopa High School has been appointed to the Governor’s Youth Commission.

Evan Grace, 15, was previously a member of the Maricopa Youth Council.

“I liked getting to give back to the city and I wanted to do more,” Evan said.

The Governor’s Youth Commission will give him that opportunity on a larger scale. It is comprised of 36-50 high school students.

The GYC holds quarterly meetings and coordinates special projects for youth in educational and volunteer activities. It is part of the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family.

Evan said he does not yet know what the GYC will be doing, but past commissions have worked at forming policy on education, homelessness and substance abuse. The GYC was established in 1989.

Often seen volunteering in the community for such causes as socks for soldiers and Relay for Life, Evan’s time on the Maricopa Youth Council last year included the Youth Town Hall. He said one of the issues they uncovered in Maricopa was the divide between youth and adults, and they sought ways to solve the underlying problems.

He said he wants to bring ideas he fostered in Maricopa up to the state level.

MHS administration recommended Evan for the appointment. He received a letter of recommendation from Mayor Christian Price and was interviewed at the Capitol. He found out about his appointment on Tuesday.

The approval letter stated, “In recognition of your outstanding achievement, we are pleased to offer you an appointment to the 2016-2017 Governor’s Youth Commission.  The application process was incredibly competitive with a high volume of applicants for the number of available spaces. Given your dedication to service and demonstrated leadership skills, we are thrilled to count you among this select group.”

Evan will be formally inducted into the Commission on Aug. 6.

Merry Grace, Evan’s mother stated, “(he) cannot wait to represent not only Maricopa High School but all of Maricopa.”

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Chance Ackerson plays the tuba with Maricopa High School Marching Band, but he plays many other instruments, too. (MUSD photo)

By Hayley Bates

Junior tubist Chance Ackerson represented Maricopa High School at the Arizona Music Educators Association’s annual Central Region Band, Orchestra and Choir Concert at Mountain View High in Mesa in February.

“Chance did a tremendous job as did the rest of the band! It was a great weekend with a great clinician, tuba virtuoso Pat Sheridan,” MHS Music Director and Fine Art Chair Ivan Pour said.

Introduced to music at age 4 by his mom, Chance decided to pursue playing when he was 9. His mom, a musician and music teacher, was adamant about him playing, so he started with the trombone and switched to tuba a year later.

He also plays baritone, piano, flute and organ among other instruments. His plate may be full, but that doesn’t stop him. Chance is currently learning to play the cello.

Being in band for seven years, he said he wanted to play the tuba for MHS since that was an instrument they didn’t already have. His favorite part of being in band is leading sectionals. Not only did he get “Best Band Student of the Year” in middle school, but he also recently had a chance to audition for the All-State Band. Chance also plays tuba for Maricopa Music Circle.

All that hard work is paying off. Though he did not make the All-State Band, when asked if he would do it again, Chance said, “Playing with the regional band was quite the learning experience. It was really fun, so I would definitely like to try again next year.”

With all of his experience, Chance wants to pursue a career in music. Being most proficient in tuba or string bass, those would be what he would like to play. Not only does he play an abundance of instruments, but he also wants to work in Cyber Security.

Hayley Bates is a student at Maricopa High School. This story appeared in the May issue of InMaricopa.