May 4, 2005 - Battling gusty winds, the boys golf team of Pusch Ridge Christian Academy, 9500 N. Oracle Road, took to 49er Golf Course April 29 to compete in the Class 2A Desert South/West region playoffs.
In just its fifth year as a program, PRCA boys golf will send five golfers to the Class 1A/2A state tournament May 9 at Johnson Ranch Golf Club in Queen Creek.
Other than junior Justin Martin, PRCA's state finals troupe will include four underclassmen - sophomore Sean Wolff and freshmen Randy Sutton, Dan Caris and Cale Donnely.
"We've never had this potential before," said PRCA head coach Robert Sutton, who is no relation to Marana Mayor Bobby Sutton Jr.
When Sutton first created the program, he expected it to reach full maturity and be ready for competitions in seven to eight years. By the time Caris, Donnely, the younger Sutton and the seven other freshman that comprise the PRCA roster are seniors, Sutton expects to have a well-polished, highly competitive squad.
"Hopefully we'll have a pretty good team our senior year," Donnely said at a practice at El Rio Golf Course, 1400 W. Speedway Blvd.
Last season, the boys golf team had only five members. This season's boom in numbers can be attributed to the growth in school enrollment and throughout the community, Sutton said.
Still, PRCA in the spring is a baseball-first school, and attracting players has always been the biggest obstacle for Sutton and the program. In fact, Dallas Howell, who is arguably the school's best golfer according to Sutton, has opted to play for the baseball team.
The lack of upperclassmen experience has created an opening for Caris to jump in as a freshman and play out of the team's No. 1 slot.
"He isn't just a golfer, he's a player," said Sutton, referring to the potential and instincts he sees in Caris. "He could be a great player if he puts his mind to it."
Caris' average per nine holes is hovering between 39 and 40 on the year. In high school, all tournaments are nine holes with the exception of regional and state.
As for any pressure of playing No. 1 as a freshman, Caris just takes it all in stride.
"We're an easygoing group," said the freshman, who added that his teammates often kid him about being the team's No. 1.