We’re roughly three weeks away from the start of the high school football season in Arizona, with kickoff looming on the horizon. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of quality football players in our midst, with six programs that churn out talent.
Catalina Foothills, Canyon del Oro, Ironwood Ridge, Marana, Mountain View and Pusch Ridge Christian Academy had varying levels of success last fall. Four of the teams (CDO, Ironwood Ridge, Marana and Pusch Ridge) made the playoffs. None of those four made it past the first round of the postseason.
Last week, we ran the first installment of our top-30 list, with spots 30-21 coming off the board. Without further ado, here’s part two of our series. Stay tuned for the big reveal next week.
20. Antone Brack
Pusch Ridge senior
4 receptions, 50 yards, 1 receiving touchdown/44 tackles, 2 interceptions, 4 pass deflections
Brack will be a key building block for coach Jerry Harris’ defense this fall, after showing his skills in the secondary as a junior. Expect the rising senior to see a lot more action at wide receiver as well, with Braeden Cole graduating. Brack should be a tour de force on both sides of the ball this fall, giving the Lions a bona fide shutdown corner and a receiver that can stretch the field whenever Harris decides to air it out.
19. Shaun Buttigieg
Mountain View senior
52 carries, 460 rushing yards, 4 rushing touchdowns/1 catch, 11 yards/38 tackles, 10.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, 1 fumble recovery
Buttigieg will play a key role in Matt Johnson’s schemes in all three phases of the game this year. Buttigieg emerged as a one-man wrecking crew on the ground in the Lions’ second half in 2018, rushing for 122 and 229 yards in the team’s wins over Desert View and Flowing Wells to close the regular season. Expect Buttigieg to shoulder much of the load for the Lions this fall, while seeing increased playing time alongside dynamic linebacker Aaron Logsdon on defense.
18. Luca Moioli
Ironwood Ridge senior
7 catches, 58 yards, 1 touchdown/32 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, 1 fumble recovery
Moioli could be a breakout player for James Hardy’s squad this fall, given his size (6 feet, 200 pounds) and ability to both snag passes and level opponents on the defensive side of the ball. Moioli could be a solid underneath option in the Nighthawks’ passing attack, giving whoever their quarterback is a solid option for short, steady chunks of yardage during the season.
17. Jackson Kubiak
Pusch Ridge senior
66 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, 4 pass deflections, 1 fumble caused/recovered
Quantifying Kubiak’s role in Harris’ scheme is difficult, given his role in the trenches. Kubiak is a bona fide stud, both on the team’s offensive line and at linebacker, as he showed during the 2018 season. His ability to clog the run in the box while also stifling opposing quarterbacks in the passing game makes him a name to remember at linebacker. His ability to dominate opposing defensive linemen in the trenches makes him a name to remember on the offensive line. Expect Kubiak to play a huge role in the Lions’ quest to reassert their dominance on the ground, giving do-it-all back Evan Lovett room to run this fall.
16. Devin Medina
9 catches, 201 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown
Medina is the Dorados’ main big-play threat in the passing game, averaging 33.5 yards per catch as a junior in 2018. The 6-foot-tall wideout should take another step in his on-field maturation this season, giving Peace’s offense another weapon offensively to go with superstar back Stevie Rocker.
15. Diego Lujan
13 tackles, 1 QB hurry
Lujan is another player whose statistics fail to live up to his actual on-field potential. The two-way lineman has established himself as one of the best at his position in the city, chewing up defenders and giving Rocker lots of space to operate. I expect Lujan to once again pave the way for Rocker and the Dorados’ quarterback, whoever that may be, this fall.
14. Ryan Garcia
Pusch Ridge senior
68 carries, 373 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns/2 catches 19 yards, 37 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 1 pass deflection
I’ve been a fan of Garcia since his freshman year, given his big-play potential in the running game for the Lions. He lived up to that billing as the Lions’ secondary threat in the ground game last season, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and breaking off big plays with ease once he found open ground. Expect Garcia to emerge as one of the best two-way players in Tucson this fall, giving the Lions a legitimate shot at another 3A title run under Harris this season.
13. Gavin Davis
13 carries, 73 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns/6 catches, 112 receiving yards/22 tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sacks, 1 pass deflection
Davis found himself third on the Dorados’ depth chart at running back in 2018 after the emergence of Diego Munguia. The former Pusch Ridge back should see much more playing time this fall, giving Peace a legit number-two option at running back behind Rocker. I expect Davis to see a lot more time on the field this season, showing what he’s capable of.
12. Jayce Crandell
Mountain View senior
21 catches, 245 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown/2 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss
Crandell should see his numbers jump at wide receiver this season, with a more confident Hayden Parson at quarterback and Calib McRae’s graduation. Crandell showed his big-play potential as a junior, averaging more than 11 yards per reception, while breaking off four receptions of 25 or more yards. Crandell should be the Lions’ leading receiver this fall, with his unique route-running skills and outstanding size, at 6-feet-4-inches tall.
11. Will Parker
Catalina Foothills senior
Defensive end/tight end
2 catches, 38 yards, 1 touchdown/59 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, 4.5 sacks
Mitchell has earned the praise of coach Darius Kelly, who expects great things from him on both sides of the ball. Parker should see his offensive output increase dramatically this fall, with new quarterback Conner Alubowicz needing a safety net in the pass game. Expect Parker to be one of the better tight ends in the state this year, giving the Falcons another threat offensively to go with Derrick Williams, who might be the best receiver in Tucson.