Welcome to the final week of the high school football regular season, where teams will make a last-ditch effort to either make or improve their standing in the state playoffs.
It’s been a whirlwind fall so far, with lots of highs and lows for each team, and lots of eye-popping performances.
With that said, I figured I would do my best to pick out a few of the shining stars in our midst, labeling the best of the best from what’s been a phenomenal fall.
I’ve been lucky enough to catch some amazing games in my first football season on the northwest side of the Tucson metropolis. Such diversity of talent makes for a lot of hair splitting when compiling these types of lists, but here goes nothing.
Without further adieu, here’s my list of the top-five high school players I’ve seen so far.
1. Elijah Carey (RB, Canyon Del Oro High School)
Carey is the fastest, most athletic halfback I’ve seen in my three-plus year tenure covering high school football in this state. The 17-year-old senior has put forth some phenomenal statistics this year; despite playing for an undermanned 4-5 Dorados team that will more than likely miss the playoffs this season. Carey ranks third overall across all six divisions in rushing yards (1,686), and more importantly has only fumbled once on 183 carries in nine Dorados games so far. The 5-foot-11 inch senior is averaging a whopping 9.2 yards per carry so far, which means he’s virtually guaranteed a first down on each attempt, an incredible statistic. There’s no shortage of football talent in these parts, as you’ll see below, but Carey’s yearlong effort makes him an easy choice for the top spot.
2. Trenton Bourguet (QB, Marana)
Bourguet may be the most polished passer I’ve seen in my career, which is even more impressive when you consider that he’s only a junior. Bourguet ranks second in Division 5A in passing yards (2,355) so far, with 31 passing touchdowns to nine interceptions. His surgical precision was on full display against Desert View on last Friday night, he threw for 185 yards and two scores in the first half, before Coach Andy Litten pulled him to keep his gunslinger healthy. Bourguet will have a good chance to pad his stats on Friday when the Tigers face 3-6 Rincon/University, who gave up 43 points to Tucson High a week ago.
3. Nick Brahler (RB, Ironwood Ridge)
Brahler’s yearlong effort in the Nighthawks backfield has been phenomenal, as the senior’s gashed opposing defenses to the tune of 1,452 yards and 16 touchdowns. Brahler’s 7.8 yards per carry average on 187 attempts this season is excellent, and his two-year total of 2,243 rushing yards is the stuff of legend. Brahler has been a human battering ram for coach Matt Johnson and company all year, gaining more than 200 yards on the ground three times this year, including 243 yards against district rival Canyon Del Oro in September. Brahler went off against Cienega’s vaunted rush defense last Friday night, gaining 213 yards on 32 carries, finding pay dirt thrice in the one-point loss to the undefeated Bobcats. Brahler will have a chance to rack up even more yards against Sahuaro in the Nighthawks’ regular season finale this Friday, with the Cougars surrendering 31 points per game this season. (Keep an eye out for me and Logan at the game!)
4. Tavian Robey (DT, Mountain View)
Robey has been a beast on the Mountain Lions’ defensive line all year, with the senior earning 43 tackles and seven-and-a-half sacks in nine games. Robey is a legit college prospect, as any quarterback or halfback that’s crossed the 280-pound senior can attest. Expect to hear Robey’s name called on Saturdays next fall, as the young man can impose his will on the defensive line.
5. Teon Simmons (WR, Marana)
Simmons has been criminally under-appreciated at wide receiver for the Tigers. He highlighted this against Desert View, hauling in three catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns. The senior has 636 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns this year, ranking tenth in Division 5A in yards and first in receiving touchdowns. Marana—to borrow the St. Louis Rams old slogan—are the Most Exciting Show on Turf, and Simmons is one of the main attractions.