We’re less than a month away from the opening of the high school football season in Southern Arizona. There will be many can’t-miss performances in the months ahead, with all the pulse-pounding action we’ve come to expect from high school pigskin.
We’re fortunate to live in a region that has some of the finest football teams in the state, with Pusch Ridge Christian Academy coming off a runner-up finish in Division 3A, Ironwood Ridge and Mountain View coming off impressive playoff runs and Marana looking to build on its back-to-back region championships.
There are many aspects to keep an eye on this fall, but here are a few prognostications that I see occurring this fall:
Trenton Bourguet breaks 3,000 passing yards: One player that cannot be missed is rising senior gunslinger Trenton Bourguet of Marana, who finished 10th in the state a year ago, with 2,984 passing yards in 12 games. Bourguet features a rocket-powered passing arm and a deft ability to extend plays, both inside and outside of the pocket, allowing him to turn defenses inside out, hitting big plays downfield that most high school quarterbacks can only dream of. Bourguet, with a full assortment of talented receivers at his disposal, should be able to throw for more than 3,000 yards this fall, depending on how far the Tigers can go in the talent-rich Division 5A playoffs. He’d have to average 250 passing yards per game to do so, should the Tigers play 12 games, a feat he eclipsed five times last season. Expect Bourguet to shatter records and opposing team’s dreams this fall, with a real shot at breaking Bryce Perkins’ record for passing touchdowns in a season (46), which he set in 2014 with Chandler High School.
Teams will light up the scoreboard once again this fall: Last year saw some of the most electric offensive attacks, all centered in north tucson. Marana, under former coach Andy Litten led the way, averaging 47.1 points per game, while scoring 80 offensive touchdowns in 12 games. Elsewhere, the mighty Lions of Pusch Ridge are coming off an incredible offensive campaign of their own, scoring 46.6 points per game a year ago in 3A. Also in Marana, Mountain View did its fair share with the ball, racking up 32.4 points per game under Coach Clarence “Bam” McRae, while Canyon del Oro averaged 26 points per game and Jeff Scurran’s Catalina Foothills squad put up 24.5 points per game last fall. Expect more of the same this season, with a litany of talented players on the offensive side of the ball at all six schools that dot the northwestern fringes of Tucson.
A Northwest Tucson high school will win a state championship: It’s been four years since Pusch Ridge brought home Northwest Tucson’s last state championship, beating Northwest Christian, 14-7, in the Division IV (now 3A) title game. The Lions came close to doing so once again last fall, but fell to Casteel of Queen Creek, 35-28, in the championship round. This year’s crop of talent should produce the region’s best title odds in a long, long time—with Ironwood Ridge, Marana, Mountain View and Pusch Ridge all possessing realistic odds of winning their division. There’s a decent shot that more than one of the 5A schools listed above make deep runs this fall, with Bourguet and receivers Tariq Jordan, Rene Valenzuela and Alfred Ebunoha all back for the Tigers. Drew Cook and Nathan Grijalva should power the Nighthawks deep into the playoffs, while receiver Josh Hart and a Black Crush defense led by Calib McRae should power the Lions of Mountain View this fall. Don’t be surprised if one (or more) of the teams above bring some hardware back to Southern Arizona, or if Canyon del Oro and/or Catalina Foothills do the same.