The Maricopa High School football team hosts Willow Canyon at 7 p.m. today to launch the varsity season.
“They’re ready to play because they want to play,” head coach Brandon Harris said. “Are they as prepared as they would be? We’ll find out.”
Tonight’s captains are expected to be Hunter Taylor, Mister Chavis, Quintone Green and Racellus Johnson. Harris said they are being recognized for their consistency.
“They’ve been in the program for three years, so the expectations, they know them,” Harris said.
Playing in the new 5A East region this season, the Rams have been the face of COVID-19 for youth in Maricopa. After at least one player tested positive, the team had to quarantine in the middle of prep weeks.
The team continued to meet remotely, and players had workouts similar to college-level plans and had plenty to work on at home. Harris said he wanted to stay sensitive to the overall circumstances.
“People were dying out there,” he said. “We didn’t want to diminish the seriousness of the situation.”
Tonight’s starting quarterback will be senior Cipriano Childers, returning to the squad after spending the past school year in Winslow. The offensive strengths will look similar to last season.
“We’re fast. We’re physical. We’ve got some size finally,” Harris said. “Not as much as others, but we’ve got some size to go along with that.”
The defense will again have the “by committee” approach that often worked very well in 2019. That will include familiar names like Taylor, Green, Johnson, Tyshawn Mooney, Dominic Hall, Patrick Garcia and Tylek Mooney (currently out with injury).
Harris wants to maintain the string of never losing an opening game. While the game will have limited physical attendance, he hopes those watching online will see another victory and a Rams team that is gelling.
“We’re a much closer team,” Harris said. “More of a brotherhood, I think. The kids that I got as freshmen are juniors. They’ve had a chance to see what other teams in front of them have done, and I think they’ve bought into that.”
Oct. 1, 7 p.m. v. Willow Canyon
Oct. 9, 7 p.m. v. Canyon View
Oct. 16, 7 p.m. v. Saguaro
Oct. 23, 7 p.m. at Apollo
Oct. 30, 7 p.m. at Notre Dame Prep
Nov. 6, 7 p.m. v. Horizon
Nov. 13, 7 p.m. at Gilbert
Nov. 20, 7 p.m. v. Campo Verde