Another season of high school football has come and gone in northwest Tucson, with several notable moments from the year that was.
We saw three teams from our region make the postseason: Canyon del Oro reached the 4A playoffs, while Ironwood Ridge and Mountain View did the same in 5A.
The trio’s time in the postseason was cut short, after first round exits to Marcos de Niza, Casteel and Williams Field, but the team’s seasons were memorable, nonetheless.
We saw a bevy of seniors rise to the occasion, including Ironwood Ridge senior back Brandon Barrios, who ran for 1,491 yards in 11 games.
Other seniors rose up and played new positions, like Catalina Foothills veteran Will Parker, who took over at quarterback after coming into the year as the team’s top tight end.
Several newcomers also put forth remarkable seasons, including Mountain View gunslinger Giovanni Ciaccio and Mountain View wideout Kollins Opoku-Appoh.
The region should be stacked with top-notch talent in the years to come thanks to the success that this year’s underclassmen achieved.
For now, the only thing left to do is put a bow on top of the 2019 regular season by naming those who stood out the most in a crowded field.
Here’s who stood out the most offensively during the 2019 high school football regular season in northwest Tucson.
1st Team: Giovanni Ciaccio
Mountain View junior
Stats: 44/64, 678 passing yards, 10 passing touchdowns (0 interceptions)/24 carries, 99 rushing yards, 4 rushing touchdowns
It was a case of quality over quantity for Ciaccio this year, as the junior started the Lions’ last three games, posting an impressive run for the Lions. The 6 foot 1 inch gunslinger completed an impressive 68.8 percent of his passes, while not throwing a single interception on 64 pass attempts. Ciaccio has put himself on the radar for college recruiters entering the 2020 regular season, as the Lions return an impressive amount of talent next year. Mountain View should be stacked on both sides of the ball come next fall, with the Lions returning to state title consideration thanks to the efforts of Ciaccio and fellow seniors-to-be.
2nd Team: Montana Neustadter
Canyon del Oro junior
Stats: 38/85, 508 passing yards, 5 passing touchdowns (1 interception)/637 rushing yards, 6 rushing touchdowns
Northwest Tucson doesn’t feature a lot of pass-happy teams, including the run first Canyon del Oro Dorados. Neustadter, however, made up for his lack of attempts by serving as a solid battering ram of a runner out of the backfield, gaining 6 yards per rush this year, with two 100-yard outings and six rushing touchdowns. The Dorados have a shot at title contention in 2020, especially if running back Stevie Rocker can stay healthy and Neustadter can improve his passing accuracy.
1st Team: Brandon Barrios
Ironwood Ridge senior
Stats: 238 carries, 1,491 rushing yards, 16 rushing touchdowns/19 receptions, 109 receiving yards
Barrios was a man on a mission this year, cracking the 100-yard mark eight times in 11 games while being the epitome of an every-down back for James Hardy Jr’s team. Barrios averaged an eye-popping 21.6 carries per game, including a stretch where he ran for no fewer than 100 yards per game in five straight contests. His senior season is one that folks around Oro Valley will talk about for a long time.
2nd Team: Gavin Davis
Canyon del Oro senior
Stats: 150 carries, 864 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdowns/2 catches, 38 receiving yards
Davis’ senior season started with a bang after the former Pusch Ridge Christian Academy star was tasked with being the Dorados’ starter after the prodigal Rocker suffered a high ankle sprain in a preseason scrimmage. Davis answered the call with gusto, rushing for 135 and 121 yards and five touchdowns in the team’s first two games. His production trickled down as Rocker returned from injury, but Davis was still an integral part of a Dorados offense that guided the team to an 8-3 record this year and the fourth seed in the 4A playoffs. Few in attendance will soon forget Davis’ remarkable opener when he ran for 135 yards on 13 carries for five touchdowns against Flowing Wells. His season was a joy to watch and should pave the way to a successful collegiate career, wherever that may take him.
1st Team: Derrick Williams
Catalina Foothills junior
Stats: 22 catches, 370 receiving yards, 8 receiving touchdowns
Williams was the most impressive receiver we saw this year, with soft hands and an explosiveness of the line of scrimmage that few possess at this level. The junior likely would have put up even more impressive stats if the Falcons had thrown the ball more, but Williams’ eight touchdown receptions speaks to how much he meant to the team’s offense this year. Expect Williams’ productivity to only go up come his senior season as the Falcons’ next quarterback will likely target him a lot more, given his success this season.
2nd Team: Kollins Opoku-Appoh
Mountain View junior
Stats: 13 catches, 208 receiving yards, 4 receiving touchdowns/29 carries, 314 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns
Opoku-Appoh has a thrilling amount of talent whenever he has the ball in his hands, whether that be off a handoff or via a pass reception. The junior will be a tour de force at whatever position he plays in 2020, as coach Matt Johnson knows how to maximize generational talents. Expect the junior to rack up an impressive amount of receiving yards and touchdowns next season given his speed and soft hands at wide receiver. Also expect Opoku-Appoh to do well when he gets the ball out of the backfield, as he averaged a whopping 10.8 yards per rush in 2019. The future is bright for the Lions, with Opoku-Appoh serving as a main reason for such a positive prognosis.
1st Team: Garrick Krautz
Catalina Foothills junior
Stats: 23 catches, 320 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns
Krautz was a key part of the Falcons’ passing game this year, serving as a safety blanket of sorts for Parker. The tight end had a career night in the team’s 20-14 loss to Sabino in their fourth game of the year, with a year-high 73 receiving yards and a touchdown in the contest. The junior should be one of the best tight ends in the region next year, with a unique ability to catch passes and lay down solid blocks to protect the team’s quarterback and running backs.
2nd Team: Dustin Sheeley
Canyon del Oro junior
Stats: 7 catches, 135 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns
Sheeley was a terrific option underneath coverage this season, averaging 19.3 yards per reception for the Dorados. The wily junior did a great job of being a solid pass blocker, while also having the skills to snag catches thrown his way with ease. Sheeley should be one of the better tight ends in the region in 2020, with a top-notch ability to do the little things right in the pass game, while also doing whatever it takes to spring big runs for the team’s stable of running backs in the running game.
Next Week: The Tucson Local Media All Region Defensive and Special Teams units