Campo Verde High School’s football program is off to its best start in history this season and have so far been rewarded for it.
The Coyotes came in as the eight-ranked team in the new Open Division rankings last week, which pins the best eight teams from the 6A, 5A and 4A conferences against one another to compete for a true state champion at the end of the season.
The second installment of the rankings released Tuesday revealed that the Coyotes had moved up two spots to No. 6.
“It’s a credit to the players and coaches working hard every day and buying what we are selling,” Campo Verde coach Max Ragsdale said. “It’s an honor to be mentioned as one of the top eight in the state.”
The rankings are comprised using a formula that factors in a team’s overall record and strength of schedule, among other factors. Campo Verde has defeated only two teams this season with a record of .500 or better, but it’s how they’ve been winning those games that has impressed on a weekly basis.
The Coyotes have been led by the legs of junior running back Caden Calloway, who has rushed for 1,140 yards in seven games this season for 17 touchdowns. Senior quarterback Zach Herrera has also contributed through the air, throwing for 957 yards and 13 touchdowns.
On defense, the Coyotes have also been impressive.
The starting unit has combined for 26 tackles for loss, 21 sacks and five interceptions so far this season.
“Everyone has bought in, there’s not a single person on this team that isn’t on the same page,” Calloway said. “Our line and receivers just kill it. Nobody is selfish. We play for each other. We don’t think about individual stats, we just play to win the game.”
The Campo Verde players realize they control their own destiny to remain in the Open Division rankings through the rest of the season. They also realize it won’t be easy when playing in arguably the toughest division in the 5A Conference.
The Coyotes have a week off before they begin a brutal three-game stretch to end the season. Campo Verde will be at home against Higley on Oct. 18, on the road at Williams Field on Oct. 25 and back at home against Casteel in the regular-season finale on Nov. 1.
Every team the Coyotes play in the last three games of the season has made deep runs in the playoff in their past, with Casteel and Williams Field having both won state titles in the last five years.
“We’ve got four region games that is like the SEC of the 5A. I’ve heard people say that,” Ragsdale said. “If at the end of those four games we are still mentioned in the top eight it will be an honor.”
Open Division Rankings
1. Chandler (6A)
2. Salpointe Catholic (4A)
3. Centennial (5A)
4. Notre Dame Prep (5A)
5. Saguaro (4A)
6. Campo Verde (5A)
7. Pinnacle (6A)
8. Brophy (6A)