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Sports

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The Maricopa Militia. Photo by Victor Moreno

A youth tackle football program is recruiting players age 6-9 for a fall season.

IF YOU GO
What: Militia Speed & Conditioning Clinic
When: June 30, 8-10 a.m.
Where: Copper Sky
How much: Free

The Maricopa Militia is part of the nonprofit National Youth Sports football league. Team manager Joanne Taylor said the team was formed after the disappointment of false starts by other teams that have come and gone.

“Some of our players and coaches have been playing tackle football here in Maricopa for the past four to five years and have had to endure many empty promises, failed leadership, belittlement and discrimination,” Taylor said.

The Militia was conceived as a way to change all that.

The Militia’s home games are played on the Maricopa High School field. Head coach for 7-under and 8-under teams is Josh Taylor, assisted by Dave Taylor, Jay Owens, Ruben Adame and Louie Placencio. If the 9-under team comes to be, another coach will be added. Matt Rivett handles the finances, and team mom is Tara Owens.

“We understand that not every young athlete that plays for us will play high school or college football,” Taylor said. “However, every one of our young athletes will grow up to be a member of a community. This is why we focus on building life skills through football.”

The Militia will host a speed and conditioning clinic on June 30 at Copper Sky Regional Park from 8 to 10 a.m. This free clinic is for current and prospective players to display and build new skills.

The fall season starts July 30.

Militia coaches. Photo by Victor Moreno

Besides learning tackle football, the Militia players are urged to participate in community service.

“Our goal is to perform at least one act of service as a team per season. This past season we assisted the Maricopa Food Bank (located at Santa Cruz Elementary School),” Taylor said. “This was a great opportunity for us to support and give back to our community. While at the Food Bank, our players were able to sort and prepare new and donated plastic bags to be filled with vital canned goods and grocery items for the families in need in our community.” See photos below.

Taylor said community service helps the players feel good about themselves through helping others. It also engages them in the community and creates bonds outside the football field.

“That event had a profound impact on our team, because they saw how volunteering can change our lives and the lives of others,” the team manager said. “It also provides a sense of purpose and teaches life lessons.”

The Militia play teams from all over the Valley. The team motto is “Honor, Strength and Courage.”

“We hope to start with that creed and build the confidence, responsibility, respect, discipline, service and team work in each player through our program,” the coach said. “It all starts and ends with fun and helping the players understand and develop a love for the game of football.”

Organizers chose the name Militia to echo the military comparisons intrinsic to football.

“Another reason we selected Militia is that we also really wanted to reflect our patriotism for this great country we live in,” Taylor said. “We have adopted an Americana theme with stars and stripes on our uniforms. With the name Maricopa Militia, we would like to draw from the meaning that helped in the creation of America during the Revolutionary War. We also pay tribute to the men and women who serve our country today.”

Being part of NYS allows the team to keep its costs down and keep the program affordable. Taylor said the team also benefits from “generous donations” from Maricopa businesses like Water and Ice and Native Grill & Wings. This year’s goal is to play in the NYS National Tackle Championship tournament in San Diego.

https://www.facebook.com/MaricopaMilitiaAZ/

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Longman Pyne, Jacob Cowing and Philip Austin are part of the 4x100-meter relay team.

By Joycelyn Cabrera

After taking bronze medals in the track & field state championships last year, Maricopa High School’s 4×100-meter relay team is hungry for more. Consisting of junior Jacob Cowing and seniors P.J. Austin, Frank Jones and Longman Pyne, the team’s top time of 42.35 (accomplished at the Greenway Invitational April 7 and better than their state time of 42.76 last year) is the second-best in Division II and qualifies them for the Arizona Interscholastic Association competition this week.

The team talked to InMaricopa intern Joycelyn Cabrera about what’s ahead.

Learn about other qualifiers and see an MHS track & field gallery below


What are you expecting from State this time around?

Longman Pyne: “This year our mind is set on gold, but just being able to go there again and compete among the best is an accomplishment.”

Jacob Cowing: “I’d say we’re just trying to win the meet this year. We came up short last year, so it’s time to get a win for all the seniors who are going out this year. And for our 4×100, we got third, so we’re trying to win it this year in D2.”

Frank Jones: “Individually, we want to set high standards, make state records and such.”

Francois “Frank” Jones running as the anchor on the 4×100-meter relay team. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Phillip Austin: “It feels great. It feels very important to be the best Maricopa has, and to be top 5 in state overall.”

Cowing: “I think it’s important for us and for Maricopa to be considered one of the best. Also, the middle school kids coming up and trying to have a competing time after we leave from our high school time – it’s kind of important to our community that we’re here to compete with others.”

Jones: “It’s important because our relay team is doing something that no other [MHS] relay team has ever done. We’re basically setting a legacy that younger generations like the elementary schoolers and the middle schoolers can have – to see what they can do.”

How do you prepare for competition individually and as a team?

Pyne: “I just try to block out everything that doesn’t have to do with competing. I go to my happy place and zone in. To get prepared as a team, we practice our exchanges vigorously throughout the week.”

Jones: “I just put a standard in my head, like ‘what time do I need to hit,’ personally. I focus on that all week and during practices. As a team, we really just come together in our 4×100 and do what we need to do – run fast and compete with the best.”

Austin: “Our coach has high expectations every week. He sets what we’re supposed to do, and then when it comes meet time, focus, listen to what he tells us to do. For our 4×100, we as a team have great chemistry, so it starts to become easy.”


MHS athletes also rank high in individual events. Junior Logan Taylor has Division II’s second-best time in the 110-meter hurdles in 14.64. He is fifth-best in the 300-meter hurdles in 40.23.

Jones’ best 200-meter time of 21:95 is sixth in the state, while Cowing ran 22.25, and Austin hit 22.12. The three are competing in the state meet.

Pyne qualified to run in the state meet in the 400-meter dash with a time of 50.77.

Austin’s top result in the long jump, 23-2.5, was fourth best in Division II, and junior Tylen Coleman ranked fourth in the shotput with his top throw of 49-2.5. Coleman also qualified for discus throwing, with a throw of 144-4.

Devin Parady and Coleman both qualified for javelin throwing, with Parady having a throw of 152-0 and Coleman throwing at 138-1.

Parady also qualified for the triple jump, with a leap of 42-1.25.

Cowing’s 100-meter time of 10:87 is eighth best in the division. Austin’s and Jones’ 10.93 in the same event puts them 14th and 15th, respectively. Senior Samual Coles had a 10th-best jump in the pole vault at 12-10.

Among the girls, junior Shannon Coutre’s 200-meter time of 25.86 ranked her No. 4. Coutre also qualified for the 400 with a school-record time of 59.43.

Italy Brookshire qualified to compete in the high jump with a jump of 5-1.

The 4×100-meter relay team’s best time of 50.55 was 15th in the division. The team includes, Sydni Callis, Destinee Chavis, Jakayla Shaw and Alayja Reynolds.

The AIA state championships are May 2 and May 5 at Mesa Community College.


This is a corrected version, clarifying that Phillip Austin qualified to compete in the 200-meter dash at state.


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Turner Stanek, 15, went after his own state records. Submitted photo

A Maricopa teenager raised the bar during his first power lifting competition last year and is building on his reputation this year.

Turner Stanek, 15, broke state records in the back squat (352 pounds), deadlift (435 pounds) and bench press (198 pounds) at the USA Powerlifting Apeman Strong Fest in Phoenix Sept. 23.

“This is all new to him and it’s pretty awesome,” said Stanek’s mother, Danica.

Last Sunday at the USA Powerlifting Arizona 2018 State Championship, the Mountain Pointe sophomore beat his own records in back squat and deadlift and maintained his previous holding in the bench press category.

He’s now qualified to participate in the 2018 USA Powerlifting Raw Nationals this October in Spokane, Washington.

Turner’s passion for the sport began with encouragement and training from friends and staff at Maricopa CrossFit.

“It’s astonishing because two years ago today I wouldn’t have thought I would hold three records or that I could back squat 402 pounds,” Turner said.

The process produced a physical and mental metamorphosis.

Turner gained muscle and lost pounds with cross fit and powerlifting competitions.

“He has literally gone from kind of a chubby adolescent to looking like a 25-year-old man,” said Danica Stanek. “It’s crazy.”

The once introverted teen also increased his confidence and has since broadened his social horizons by joining clubs at school and encouraging others to accomplish their own fitness goals.

Work inside the gym taught Turner to deal with his emotions.

“I can put all that anger into the bar and take it out on the bar because that’s all the bar wants me to do,” Turner said.

He plans to compete in regional competitions this summer ahead of the national event in September.

Stanek said he wants to be a well-known powerlifter and help others with their fitness ambitions.

“It’s a great feeling what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it as much as you do for powerlifting,” Turner said.

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Brett Zimmerman prepares for training in Rancho El Dorado.

 

Navy veteran Lt. Brett Zimmerman left Hawaii and sold most of his belongings after his time in the military last year.

It was his goal to live a simpler life, one without clutter to anchor him.

“Life’s too short and I realized that when I was in the Navy and on a submarine — sometimes it gets pretty dark,” said the 30-year-old North Dakota native. “You’re under water for months at a time and you look back and think what am I doing? And what do I want to do with my life?”

The answer to that question soon became clear.

Zimmerman is an avid cyclist, runner and swimmer. Since his senior year at Oregon State University, he’s found freedom in triathlon races.

“I’ve found something that I love wholeheartedly, and I just want to go out there and do the best that I possibly can,” Zimmerman said.

It’s his goal to become a professional triathlete.

Zimmerman’s family winters in Maricopa every year. He spent the better part of this season strength-training and swimming at Copper Sky as well as cycling and running in Rancho El Dorado.

He’s also been modifying a 2005 Dodge Sprinter for a life-changing road trip.

The tour will feature stops in the Midwest and as far as the East Coast as Zimmerman chases down his dream.

The ambition was first born from his late coach Jason Kilderry, who passed away last year.

“I wanted to find a purpose and a meaning in life and he just said, ‘You have an opportunity right now to go out there and just take life by the horns,’” Zimmerman said Kilderry told him.

To live minimally, he enlisted the help of his father Rodney and their neighbor Jim Pfeifle to transform the van into a home-on-wheels.

“It’s gratifying,” said Pfeifle, who worked in construction and contributed much of the woodwork to the van’s interior.

The van is DC-powered with running water, a small refrigerator, a propane stove, a full-size bed and a composting toilet.

‘Ruby’ the van – named after Zimmerman’s July birthstone – will transport the triathlete through at least November when his last race of the year takes place in Miami.

If Zimmerman goes pro, he will travel abroad to races in Europe.

“I’m really excited about what’s about to happen it’s going to be a wild couple of years,” Zimmerman said.



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Desert Wind v. Maricopa Wells

A variety of varsity, junior varsity and junior high activities were in the spotlight leading up to Spring Break. Desert Wind Middle School won the junior high football championship in a showdown with Maricopa Wells, and new Maricopa High School varsity coach Brandon Harris dropped by to look at the youngsters. While the varsity baseball teams at MHS and Sequoia Pathway started their seasons in great form (7-1 and 4-0, respectively), the softball teams have had more of a struggle (3-7-1 and 1-2, respectively). The MHS JV baseball team has posted a 3-1-1 record, including a rough game against Vista Grande (see photos below). In tennis, the MHS girls are 2-3 while the boys are 1-4. Have photos of your favorite student-athlete in spring sports? Send them in: News@InMaricopa.com

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Jake Neill

A familiar face in Maricopa High School sports was officially re-hired this week.

The Maricopa Unified Governing Board approved Jacob Neill as its new district athletic director Feb. 28.

Neill previously coached MHS basketball for four years. He left in 2016 when he was hired as assistant principal and athletic director for Poston Butte High School.

Becoming an administrator was not just a professional goal, but something that runs in his blood.

“I’m from a family of educators,” Neill said. “A good portion of my family have worked in the school system from admin assistants on up to administrators.”

He’ll soon take the place of Brian Winter, who will be MHS principal next school year. Winter originally hired Neill in 2012.

“To come back with Mr. Winter in the principal position is one of the draws back to (MUSD) because he has a vision and I’m excited to get behind him and do what we need to do to improve Maricopa High School,” Neill said.

Some of the new AD’s responsibilities will include overseeing sports programs at the junior high level and ensuring the high school’s “facilities are on par with what other 5A and 6A schools are to make our students’ experience as good as it possibly can be,” he said.

Neill lives in Laveen with his wife Jess – a fourth-grade teacher – and their 3-year-old daughter Izzy.

Photos by Victor Moreno

High school varsity spring sports are under way. Maricopa High School introduces a new sport in beach volleyball while other sports hope to get back into state contention.

Sequoia Pathway Baseball
CAA Division II Region II
March 2 v. WSST 5 p.m.
March 6 at HA-Laveen 4 p.m.
March 9 v. El Dorado 4 p.m.
March 21 v. South Pointe 4 p.m.
March 26 at ASU Prep Poly 5 p.m.
March 27 at HA-Mesa 4:15 p.m.
April 3 at EVAC 4 p.m.
April 5 at Imagine Prep Coolidge 4:30 p.m.
April 7 v. ALA-Ironwood 11 a.m.
April 9 v. Imagine Prep Coolidge 4:30 p.m.
April 11 v. Canyon State 4 p.m.

Sequoia Pathway Softball
CAA Division II Region I
March 1 v. ALA-Gilbert 4 p.m.
March 7 at Imagine Prep Surprise 4 p.m.
March 9 v. Imagine Prep Coolidge 4 p.m.
April 2 at Tri-City College Prep 4 p.m.
April 4 v. ALA-Ironwood 4 p.m.
April 5 at ALA-Gilbert 4 p.m.
April 10 v. Mission Heights 4 p.m.
April 12 at HA-Laveen 4 p.m.
April 17 v. South Ridge 4 p.m.
April 19 at Paradise Valley Christian 4 p.m.

Maricopa High School Baseball
AIA Division 5A Section Metro (remaining schedule)
March 1 v. Sierra Linda 3:45 p.m.
March 2 v. Desert Edge 3:45 p.m.
March 5 v. Glendale 3:45 p.m.
March 7 v. Ironwood 4 p.m.
March 10-13 Bob Everett Spring Break Classic at Highland HS
March 21 at Vista Grande 6 p.m.
March 22 at Mesquite 4 p.m.
March 26 at Kellis 3:45 p.m.
March 27 v. Kellis 3:45 p.m.
March 29 at Casa Grande 4 p.m.
April 3 at Sunnyslope 4 p.m.
April 5 v. Verrado 3:45 p.m.
April 6 v. Sunnyslope 3:45 p.m.
April 10 v. Apollo 3:45 p.m.
April 11 v. Ironwood 6:30 p.m.
April 12 at Apollo 4 p.m.
April 17 at McClintock 4 p.m.
April 19 v. McClintock (Senior Night) 3:45 p.m.
April 20 at Williams Field 3:45 p.m.

Maricopa High School Softball
AIA Division 5A Section Metro (remaining schedule)
March 1 at Sierra Linda 4 p.m.
March 2 at Desert Edge6 p.m.
March 5 at Glendale 4 p.m.
March 6 v. Vista Grande 3:45 p.m.
March 8 v. Williams Field 3:45 p.m.
March 19 v. Mesquite 3:45 p.m.
March 27 at Kellis 4 p.m.
March 29 v. Casa Grande 3:45 p.m.
March 30 v. Kellis 3:45 p.m.
April 3 v. Sunnyslope 3:45 p.m.
April 5 at Verrado 4 p.m.
April 6 at Sunnyslope 4 p.m.
April 10 at Apollo 4 p.m.
April 11 at Ironwood 4 p.m.
April 12 v. Apollo 3:45 p.m.
April 17 v. McClintock (Senior Night) 3:45 p.m.
April 19 at McClintock 4 p.m.

Maricopa High School Track & Field
AIA Division II
March 7 at Chaparral 4 p.m.
March 10 at Desert Tune-Up (Mountain View Marana) 8 a.m.
March 21 at McClintock 3 p.m.
March 22 at Schuster Jones Under-Class Showcase 12 p.m.
March 28 at Maricopa Twilight 3:30 p.m.
April 13 at Hohokam Invitational 9:30 a.m.

Maricopa High School Boys’ Tennis
AIA Division I Section I (remaining schedule)
March 2 v. Casa Grande 3:30 p.m.
March 8 at Higley 3:30 p.m.
March 22 at Williams Field 3:30 p.m.
March 27 v. Cibola 3:30 p.m.
March 28 v. Tolleson Union 3:30 p.m.
March 29 at San Luis 3:30 p.m.
April 3 at Millennium 3:30 p.m.
April 4 at La Joya Community 3:30 p.m.
April 10 v. Westview 3:30 p.m.
April 12 at Kofa 3:30 p.m.

Maricopa High School Girls’ Tennis
AIA Division I Section I (remaining schedule)
March 1 v. Casteel 3:30 p.m.
March 5 at Casa Grande 3:30 p.m.
March 8 v. Higley 3:30 p.m.
March 27 at Cibola 3 p.m.
March 28 at Tolleson Union 3:30 p.m.
March 29 v. San Luis 3:30 p.m.
April 3 v. Millennium 3:30 p.m.
April 4 v. La Joya Community 3:30 p.m.
April 10 at Westview 3:30 p.m.
April 12 v. Kofa 3:30 p.m.
April 16 v. Williams Field 3:30 p.m.

Maricopa High School Beach Volleyball
AIA Division I Section IV (remaining schedule)
March 5 v. Casteel at Copper Sky 4 p.m.
March 26 v. Millennium at Copper Sky 4 p.m.
March 28 at Willow Canyon at Victory Lane Complex 4 p.m.
April 2 at Shadow Ridge at Victory Lane Complex 4 p.m.
April 4 at Perry at Seville Golf & Country Club 6:30 p.m.
April 9 v. Verrado at Copper Sky 4 p.m.
April 11 v. Dysart at Copper Sky 4 p.m.
April 13 v. Hamilton at Copper Sky (Senior Night) 4 p.m.
April 16 at Mesquite High School 4 p.m.

 

 

The Maricopa Rams started the 2018 season in a home tournament Thursday. Photo by Michelle Chance

Maricopa High School Softball fell at home, 12-2, against Florence Thursday during the team’s season opener at the annual Krystin Diehl Tournament.

It was the first game led by new head coach Jason Crawford. He joined MHS in August as an English teacher.

A day ahead of the game, Crawford said the team’s biggest challenge is its nerves.

“We have been working hard the entire off season for this moment, and now that it’s here, I need to keep the girls’ from getting too nervous and losing focus of our goals,” Crawford said.

The team was plagued with pre-season jitters during its scrimmage Saturday, Crawford said, and despite moments of confidence on the mound and behind the plate Thursday, Rams softball couldn’t shake the butterflies for a win.

Rams varsity softball is a young team this year — made up of mostly underclassmen and only a handful of juniors and seniors.

Crawford said he’s looking to his older players to mentor their newest players on the field.

With the first game under their belt, Crawford said the team is “working out those kinks of youth and inexperience.”

Rams softball faces off against McClintock High Friday at 4:30 p.m.



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This story has been corrected from a previous version to indicate Mr. Crawford is an English teacher.


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Submitted photo

Saturday, Sequoia Pathway’s wrestling team competed in the Canyon Athletic Association 2018 Wrestling State Championships. The team finished third behind ALA-Gilbert and Harvest Prep of Yuma.

The Pumas’ five state champions:
Joshua Husick 23-0 (120 pounds)
Igor Husick 35-1 (126 pounds)
Kawehialani Kalulu 15-9 (girls 126 pounds), beat last year’s champion.
Anthony Rohde 38-2 (138 pounds)
Jackson Lee 32-0 (220 pounds)
George Husick Coach of the Year

Lucio Dominguez was second at 285 pounds. Will Senne (132 pounds) and A.J. Anderson (120 pounds) both placed third. Patrick Lisby placed fourth at 106 pounds.

 

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The Maricopa varsity Rams take the field for the first time Wednesday night. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa High School Baseball’s season opener started at home Wednesday against Tempe High during the school’s annual Matt Huffman Tournament.

The tourney began Wednesday afternoon between Dobson and Poston Butte and runs through Saturday.

Rams head coach Andrew Pollak said he’s excited about the many players on the team with the potential to have a big year, some of them including his returning seniors.

“They’ve been through the program for four years now, and they could’ve easily chosen to leave town and go to a different school, but they stayed here and have done a good job representing our city,” Pollak said.

Four-year varsity player Carter Paine is slated to be No. 1 on the mound this year across from the Rams’ leader behind the plate, catcher Mason Williamson.

Belcher twins, Taylor and Tyler, will also return. Both pitchers and fielders, they are among those who Pollak said will have a “huge impact” on the field this year.

Senior Kevin McDill will return to the mound and the outfield for the Rams, and Andres Gusse is the team’s “tremendous first baseman,” Pollak said.

The team’s retention of quality players is what Pollak said is a testament to the program and its division.

“We play really good competition,” Pollak said. “We don’t have any cupcakes on our schedule.”

Rams play Poston Butte Thursday at 3:30 p.m. and finish the tourney Saturday with a game at 12:30 p.m.

Post-tournament play begins March 1 at home against Sierra Linda.


Tyler Belcher started for Maricopa against Tempe. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

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Carlos Rivas of Maricopa (second from right) is secretary of USTA Central Arizona. Other new officers are (from left) Treasurer Nathan Brelsford, First VP Taylor Allin, southwest section delegate Bill Lucero, President Laurie Martin and Second VP David Bennett. Submitted photo

A Maricopan hopes his new position can re-invigorate a local love of tennis.

Carlos Rivas was named to the executive committee of U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) Central Arizona. He will serve as secretary.

“The goal is to grow tennis and get more people to play it,” Rivas said. “When you love something you just want to share it.”

Originally from California, Rivas picked up the sport as a youngster wanting to be like Andre Agassi “with all the hair and crazy clothes.” He found a $10 racket and started hitting balls with his brother. He played in high school and at Paradise Valley Community College.

Through tennis he met some of his best friends. He loved that sportsmanship was a vital part of the game, with players calling their own lines. After college, he was like many others who were unaware they could keep playing organized tennis. It was a decade before he discovered USTA programs.

Rivas said contrary to the stereotype that tennis is an elite, expensive sport, he has found it accessible and diverse. Bargain rackets and tennis balls are easily available, he said, and Maricopa has tennis courts in both its city parks.

He wants to see USTA’s Net Generation program utilized locally. Rivas said it offers resources to youth players and teaches coaches “how to do outreach.”

The goal is not to create professional tennis champions but to instill skills that will set up kids for a lifetime of healthy recreation. Rivas said most USTA Central Arizona members are simply leisure players.

Matt Gleason, executive director of USTA Central Arizona, said membership has grown by about 600 in the last five years in Arizona. Nationwide, the growth rate of 4 percent is outpacing other high school sports.

“Tennis is a tough skillset,” Gleason said. “There isn’t anyone who can’t kick a ball, but tennis is all athletic coordination.”

USTA wants to spread its program curriculum and get schools and youth programs outfitted in fundamentals and equipment.

“I’m interested in helping us get some of the programs going and growing,” Gleason said. “We’ve done a lot to grow recreational tennis.”

Rivas, who works at Verizon in Chandler, said he wants to have his kids involved in the sport and inspire a love for tennis in other young players.

“It’s a cool sport to play.”

 

The Maricopa High School varsity girls' basketball team links arms ahead of the national anthem Tuesday night. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

 

The Maricopa High School girls’ basketball team may be quietly hanging around the 14th ranking in 5A, but that’s OK with coach Melvin Mitchell.

“A lot of people are kind of writing us off, which is good. We don’t need the attention right now,” the third-year head coach said. “We’re just waiting and preparing for February.”

The Rams coasted through a 5A Metro game Tuesday, thumping McClintock 80-31 while getting the bench plenty of playing time.

“It became a track race a little bit, which I really didn’t want it to get,” Mitchell said. “I wanted to bring the ball up slowly and work around the offense, but you can’t tell them not to score if it’s a fast-break layup.”

Maricopa is 4-0 in Metro play, but the Rams have sixth-ranked Apollo waiting for them Friday night. Apollo has a very tall team loaded with seniors. Mitchell said the Hawks run most of their plays through 6-foot junior Jakaree Harris. Apollo also has a “nice new big” in 6-foot-1 freshman Haylee Weathersby, who is averaging 16 points a game. Both are strong offensive rebounders.

“Limiting them to one possession is going to be key,” Mitchell said.

All but one of Maricopa’s remaining regular-season games are Metro contests. The Rams sit on top of the region with Apollo. Overall, Maricopa is 12-7.

“I think we’re just very young. We’re not necessarily deep,” Mitchell said. “Some of our younger players need to step up and just learn and know their role, and they got the opportunity to show some of that tonight.”

Against McClintock, MHS senior Sydni Callis led all scoring with 24 points. She also had four steals and five assists. Junior Jayla Johnson, recovering from injury, “didn’t look like herself,” according to Mitchell, but still scored 19 points, 14 in the first half. The coach said Johnson needed to be 100 percent in order for the team to make a run in the playoffs.

Freshman Brook Smith scored nine points. Italy Brookshire and freshman Evone Santiago scored eight each. Taylor Coleman led the rebounding with seven while scoring six points.

The next game for the Rams is Thursday against Ironwood in Maricopa. Varsity game time is 7 p.m.


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MHS Rams build a lead against Willow Canyon.

The Maricopa High School boys’ basketball team carries a 5-3 record into tonight’s match-up with Casa Grande.

The Rams are coming of a four-game home stand, which they split. They defeated Campo Verde and Willow Canyon but lost to Poston Butte and Mountain View Marana.

Maricopa has made an impact with their fitness, wearing down opponents late in the game. Head coach Tony Fuller credited the ongoing training of the team members, many of whom excel in football, track and other sports.

“That’s something we have to do, run them as much as we can and get them tired,” he said. “We trying to be the best-conditioned team in Arizona; that’s our goal.”

That helped the Rams nearly pull off a miracle comeback Friday against Mountain View. Though Maricopa took an early lead, the Mountain Lions built a 17-point lead in the second quarter. But the Rams adjusted their effort against the taller, deeper, more exhausted team and worked all the way back to within three points in the final seconds before the 62-57 loss.

“They felt like they lost an opportunity, that maybe if they played that way for the entire 32 minutes, we might have won the game,” Fuller said. “So it was a lesson.”

Hosting Willow Canyon on Tuesday, the Rams won 83-67. It was Maricopa’s highest point total of the season.

“I just wanted us to come out a play hard,” Fuller said. “I thought we played a good second half last game, but sometimes we lose focus.”

The Wildcats could do little to stop Maricopa senior Josh Johnson, who stacked up 45 points. Twenty-seven of those came in the first half. He hit seven 3-pointers, including one from near mid-court at the halftime buzzer. Johnson also had nine rebounds, five steals and five assists.

Junior Jelani Elliott scored 10 points and had three rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot. Senior El Jones scored eight points. Senior Longman Pyne had nine rebounds, three assists and a steal to go with his two points.

Tonight’s game starts at 7 p.m. in Casa Grande, where the Cougars are 0-6. The Rams return home Friday to host region rival Ironwood.


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Named 5A Metro First Team from Maricopa High School were (from left) Kemo Akins , Tylen Coleman, Jacob Cowing and Edward Donaldson.

Nine Maricopa High School football players have been named All-Region in recent 5A Metro voting.

Wide receive Jacob Cowing, a junior, and senior running back Kemo Akins were named First Team, as were junior defensive lineman Tylen Coleman and senior linebacker Edward Donaldson.

Cowing led 5A Metro in receiving yards with 1,081. He scored 13 touchdowns for 78 points, tied for fourth in the region. Akins was third in rushing yards, with 1,040. His 18 touchdowns and 108 points were third in Metro.

Coleman collected by far the most sacks in the region with 13.

Named to 5A Metro’s Second Team were seniors Taylor Belcher, Zion Saole, Brenden West and Baylen Redfern and junior Stefon Nelson.

Senior Josh Johnson (1) is pursued down-court by Campo Verde on Friday. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Maricopa High School boys’ basketball started the season 4-1 after defeating Campo Verde, 71-50, Friday. Though the Coyotes took an early lead, the Rams’ tenacious style of play proved unstoppable in front of the home crowd.

Senior guard Josh Johnson scored 33 points and had five rebounds and five steals. Junior Jelani Elliott scored 15 points and had nine rebounds and three steals. Senior El Jones had 10 points and seven rebounds. The Rams continue their home stand through the next three games, hosting Poston Butte Tuesday, Mountain View Marana Friday and Willow Canyon Dec. 12.

MHS senior Sydni Callis has been a driving force early in the season. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Just four games into their 2017-18 season, the Maricopa High School girls’ basketball team has already been on a rollercoaster. The Rams are 2-2 for November as they reconfigure for another run at the playoffs.

The two losses came in the season-starting Desert Edge Scorpion Shootout. Sierra Linda, last year’s state runner-up, defeated Maricopa 61-41. Then Agua Fria defeated the Rams in a much tighter game tainted by two late turnovers, 50-46.

“We started the season pretty rough,” Maricopa head coach Melvin Mitchell said. “I think we’re a lot better team than we showed in that first game.”

But it did give the Rams a taste of top-level basketball right out the chute and was an eye-opener in the work that needs to be done. Because they were tournament games, the losses do not count in Arizona Interscholastic Association figuring.

Against Sierra Linda, senior Sydni Callis, whom the coach called a big-game player, scored 20 points, had seven rebounds and six steals, and blocked two shots. Junior Jayla Johnson scored 15 and had six rebounds.

Maricopa started its regular season Tuesday by unloading on Vista Grande at home, 67-17. It was an opportunity for everyone to get in some floor time and figure out what “Ram basketball” means to Mitchell.

“It’s an extremely huge learning curve, just the players getting used to me and my personality, especially in practice; it may not be something that they’re used to,” said Mitchell, who is in his third year as varsity coach. “We like to switch up our defensive schemes, and stuff like that, so they always have to be thinking on the go. And just grooming them, making sure they’re ready for big-time competition like Queen Creek.”

They were definitely ready for Queen Creek on Thursday in Maricopa. The 61-29 victory was more than a little revenge on the Bulldogs, who beat Maricopa last year by two points. This time, Queen Creek was limited to single digits in every quarter.

“It was huge for us,” Mitchell said. “We just got to play our brand of basketball.”

Described by the coach as “a quiet assassin,” Johnson scored 21 points, hitting four 3-pointers, and collected six rebounds. Callis hit every shot she tried from the field and the line and finished with 18 points and nine steals.

“I think in my heart that we have two of the best guards in the state,” Mitchell said.

Freshman Shakira Galespie stepped up to score eight points. Sophomore Taylor Coleman led the rebounding with seven.

“It’s kind of one of those funny things where typically the seniors are the leaders, but we have everyone leading on this team,” the coach said.

The Rams are on the road Friday, playing Campo Verde in Gilbert at 7 p.m.

From left, junior soccer player Shannon Coutre, senior soccer player Johnathan Mendez, senior wrestler Kevin McDill, cheerleader Aliyah Munguia, senior basketball player Josh Johnson and senior basketball player Sydni Callis. Photos by Victor Moreno

Click on photo to enlarge


This item appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.


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MHS senior Alia Ballou brings the ball in during a home-opening victory. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

In their first non-tournament game of the new season, Maricopa High School’s girls’ basketball team thumped Vista Grande, 67-17. The Rams held the Spartans to just three points in the first half.

Junior Jayla Johnson led all scorers with 17 points. Senior Alia Ballou scored 12, including two 3-pointers, and freshman Evone Santiago scored nine. Senior Sydni Callis and junior Destinee Chavis scored eight apiece. Senior Natausha Hall had nine rebounds, and Johnson grabbed five. Callis had 10 steals, and junior Kyla Boyce blocked two shots.

Maricopa hosts Queen Creek (4-1) Thursday at 7 p.m.

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MHS sophomore Payson Hacker gets the ball back in the Rams' opening game. Photo by Victor Moreno

The Maricopa High School girls’ soccer team lost its first game of the season in overtime Tuesday.

The Rams hosted Queen Creek, both teams relying on their underclassmen for big scores. The teams played to a 3-3 stalemate before the Bulldogs pulled out the victory.

Scorers for Maricopa were junior Shannon Coutre, junior Bailey Davis and freshman Ashlynn Jones. Sophomore Payson Hacker had an assist.

Maricopa next plays at home Friday at 6 p.m. against Vista Grande (0-1).

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McDonald said he was disappointed in the Rams’ play.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cowing and Akins each scored two touchdowns against Apollo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We didn’t give up,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photo by Victor Moreno

The Sequoia Pathway volleyball team defeated Summit in straight sets Tuesday, 25-20, 25-6, 25-11, to build its record to 8-2 overall.

“We are now undefeated in our conference and remain first in our conference,” coach Dawnell Haupt said. “We are working hard to keep our position in post season playoffs.”

The Pumas share the Far South Conference in the Canyon Athletic Association with Mission Heights Prep and Imagine Prep Coolidge.

In Tuesday’s game, Lynniece Andrews had nine kills and 11 aces. Cyndee Byrd had five kills and 17 aces. Mickayla Gallon had five aces, and Lexi Trimmer had three blocks.

They next play at American Leadership Academy – Gilbert Friday at 3 p.m.

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.

 

Photo by Victor Moreno

 

After a season-opening loss at home last week, the Sequoia Pathway Academy varsity football team will be on the road Friday taking on Imagine Superstition. Photographer Victor Moreno shared photos from the Pumas’ first game, a scoreless effort against ALA-Gilbert.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maricopa athletes working for spots on this year’s high school varsity teams: (from left) Sequoia Pathway Academy volleyball players Lynniece Andrews, Kelsey Blatz and Keara Simpson, Maricopa High School cross country runner Megan Carr, SPA soccer player Brian Gardner, MHS football players Taylor Belcher, Kemo Akin and Cameron Sanders, MHS volleyball players Tyla Gooden and Mackenzie Ford, and SPA football players Jacob Burbo, Cade Bell, Richard Joaquin and Tyler Burton. Photo montage by Victor Moreno

 

  1. SPA Volleyball

Dawnell Haupt returns to Pathway for her fourth year as head coach of the varsity Pumas volleyball team. Most of the team is also returning, and the Pumas are expected to make a run for the Canyon Athletic Association title.

 

2. MHS Cross Country

The boys’ cross country team defied expectations last season and earned a spot in the state championships. They lost a couple of senior leaders but still have eyes set on qualifying meets at the end of the season. Meanwhile, the girls have struggled to field a consistent team. Both boys’ and girls’ teams are coached by Heather Abel, and both will be in competition Aug. 30 at Tumbleweed Park in Chandler.

 

3. SPA Boys’ Soccer

After a four-year hiatus, Pathway will have a varsity boys’ soccer team in the fall this year, led by new head coach Juan Garavito, who saw good participation in summer clinics and camps. The school didn’t have the student population to support a soccer program, but enthusiasm was recently renewed after a co-ed program at the junior high was introduced last spring.

 

4. MHS Football

Led by head coach Chris McDonald, the Maricopa Rams’ first action is a scrimmage at Notre Dame Aug. 11. They open the season Aug. 18 hosting Willow Canyon and then play at Paradise Valley Aug. 25. The Rams were 5-5 last season and finished fourth in 5A Metro in its first season of existence.

 

5. MHS Volleyball

The Rams’ volleyball team posted a 9-9 record in 2016, their first season with coach Jecksan Quinones. Maricopa returns to action Aug. 24 in a scrimmage at Valley Christian. The Rams’ first season game is at Vista Grande Aug. 29, and they host Paradise Valley Aug. 31. They have two tournaments scheduled.

 

6. SPA Football

The Pathway Pumas will be led by a new head coach this season. Anthony Nava was an assistant coach for Casa Grande Union High School, as well as a coach for semi-professional teams in the Arizona Football League. Pathway’s season begins Sept. 1 at Pacana Park against Gilbert’s American Leadership Academy.

 

MHS Golf

Maricopa’s boys’ and girls’ golf teams will be under the tutelage of coach John Tobin but with different schedules. The boys’ home course is Ak-Chin Southern Dunes. Their first competition is Aug. 29 at Seville Country Club in Gilbert. The girls, who played instructional league last year, don’t play until Sept. 11.

 

SPA Cross Country

Coach Justin Price will return to lead Pathway’s varsity cross country team. Athletic Director Nate Wong hopes new practice times will breed faster, stronger runners. The team will practice at 6 a.m. instead of the afternoon.

 

For complete schedules, visit InMaricopa.com/Calendar/.