Can you smell the intoxicating aroma of fresh-cut grass, grilled hot dogs and sweat-stained anticipation of high school football?
We’re less than a month away from the first week of games, which include a few can’t-miss contests, like Marana High School’s opener in Scottsdale against Horizon High School; Ironwood Ridge High School traveling to face regional foe Mountain View High School and Canyon del Oro High School facing in-city rival Flowing Wells High School.
We’ve already released the first two parts of our Top 30 list, naming the most exciting football players to grace the gridirons of northwest Tucson this fall.
We’ve reached the end of our list, revealing the Top 10 players to keep an eye on this fall, thus putting the final touches on a fun compilation of talented young men.
We’re fortunate to have such a plethora of star-studded squads in the region, and feel this is the best way to recognize those that stand out among the masses.
Enjoy the final installment of our list, and the rest of your summer. Football is figuratively just around the corner—see you on the field.
10. Rene Valenzuela, Marana senior running back/free safety
Valenzuela is fresh off a solid junior season for the Tigers, with 827 rushing yards on 133 carries, to go with 135 receiving yards and 10 total offensive touchdowns. The lanky rising senior will likely be counted on to be the every down back for Coach Louie Ramirez this fall, and should climb above the 1,000-yard plateau as a result.
9. Bobby Heitzinger, Catalina Foothills senior middle/outside linebacker
Heitzinger is a speed freak of a linebacker, throwing all 180 pounds with reckless abandon in the passing and rushing game. He’s the Falcons leading tackler from a year ago, with 109 stops, an interception, fumble recovery and pass deflection to his name. Expect Heitzinger to rack up at least 120 tackles and several interceptions for the Falcons this season, as the team’s go-to stopper on defense this fall.
8. Zach Eidenschink, Canyon del Oro senior quarterback
Eidenschink excelled as a junior for the Dorados at quarterback, despite not throwing that many passes. The rising senior picked up 16 passing touchdowns in 10 games last year, and should see his numbers jump with several returning receivers to target. Eidenschink is an underrated signal caller with the speed in his legs to extend plays should his passing targets disappear. Don’t be surprised if he’s able to throw for more than 2,000 yards and 25 touchdowns this fall, depending on how far the team can go in the Division 4A state playoffs.
7. Jordan Morgan, Marana senior offensive/defensive lineman
Morgan turned heads earlier this summer when he committed to play for Coach Kevin Sumlin and the Arizona Wildcats. The 6 foot 5 inch, 270-pound lineman is a three-star prospect, according to 24/7 Sports, with the rare combination of size and speed that college line coaches crave. Morgan will be a centerpiece of the Tigers’ line, tasked with keeping do-it-all quarterback Trenton Bourguet upright this fall.
6. Isaiah Roebuck, Marana sophomore wide receiver/defensive back
Roebuck’s combination of speed and open field agility have earned him accolades in the seven-on-seven circuit, playing for Toby Bourguet’s Tucson Turf squad. He should put all of those tools to use this fall, in his first full season on Marana’s varsity squad—taking snaps on both sides of the ball. He doesn’t have any high school stats as of yet, but should be a lethal target for Trenton Bourguet in the slot, providing the Tigers with another sure-handed receiver in their passing game.
5. Calib McRae, Mountain View senior outside/middle linebacker
McRae (the son of coach, Clarence) was the Lions’ leading tackler last year, with 80 stops, 6 tackles for loss and 3 sacks as a junior. The 6 foot-1 inch incoming senior should be the spine for the Lions’ top-notch defensive scheme, haunting quarterbacks and receivers alike all fall.
4. Tariq Jordan, Marana senior wide receiver/linebacker
Jordan didn’t post eye-popping numbers as a junior, with 201 receiving yards and five touchdowns on offense, to go with 23 tackles and 3 sacks on defense. That said, the 6 foot 3 inch, two-way Jordan should take the state by storm this fall, with leading targets Teon Simmons and Jesus Valenzuela having graduated. Don’t be surprised if Jordan cracks 1,000 yards receiving, with the type of speed and size that gives cornerbacks nightmares at any level.
3. Drew Cook, Ironwood Ridge senior wide receiver/defensive back
Cook is the Nighthawks’ leading receiver, with 601 yards on 30 catches and 8 touchdowns to his name. He posted two 100-yard receiving games last year, including a five-catch, 167-yard effort against Queen Creek High School. Cook has the speed and route-running prowess to overcome his lack of height (he’s 5 foot 10 inches) and should factor heavily into Coach Matt Johnson’s offense this fall.
2. Joshua Hart, Mountain View senior wide receiver/cornerback
Hart is the most explosive high school receiver in Southern Arizona, averaging 24.8 yards per catch a season ago on 25 receptions. The rising senior has an unparalleled level of speed and route running prowess that allows him to bolt past defensive backs, while also snatching any pass within arm’s reach. Hart will likely be the Lions’ only downfield threat in the passing game but should have the talent to fight through double team coverage to threaten 1,000 receiving yards as a senior.
1. Trenton Bourguet, Marana senior quarterback
Bourguet is the easiest choice for number one, simply because he’s within reach of several career passing records that blow your mind. The lanky senior has racked up 5,152 passing yards and 64 passing touchdowns in his high school career. The 5A record for both is held by Dalton Sneed of Scottsdale’s Horizon High School, who threw for 8,377 yards and 87 touchdowns. Bourguet threw for 38 touchdowns as a junior and should have no problem launching another 24 this fall to knock off Sneed there. The question is whether he and the Tigers can go far enough for him to accumulate the 3,225 passing yards needed to tie Sneed’s passing yardage record. Bourguet would have to average 325 yards per game in the regular season, or 230.4 yards per game, should the Tigers reach the 5A title game to do so. It’s a tall order, but this gunslinger has what it takes to reach any milestone. Don’t rule him out.