An early look at what to watch in Divisions IV through VI this season:
Players to Watch
Saile Dainwood, Gilbert Christian, So., RB/WR: The sophomore will play a big role in the Knights’ single-wing offense as they enter varsity competition in Division VI. He’s a threat running or receiving and should put up plenty of yards in the wide-open 8-man game.
Adam Englebert, Seton Catholic, Sr., WR: The Sentinels are happy to be put in Division IV, and though he’ll have a new QB throwing to him, a 2010 season of 65 catches for 1,004 yards and six touchdowns is well within reach in Rex Bowser’s system.
Carlos Melendez, San Tan Foothills, Sr., RB/LB: At 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, he’ll be the featured back in the Sabercats’ offense. He had two huge games last year (188 yards against Empire and 161 against Fountain Hills), but coach Rodger Schenks expects more consistency from a kid who has 1,500-yard potential.
Brandon Milek, Tempe Prep, Sr., RB/LB: He’s arguably the Knights’ most valuable two-way returner. Milek, who had 45 tackles as a junior, will play a bigger defensive role this season while continuing his starting running back duties (912 yards, nine TD in 2010).
Matt Munsil, Scottsdale Prep, So., WR/DB: A dynamic duo with QB Aidan Wright, Munsil was unstoppable on offense most of last season, and led the Spartans in tackles (92 total) and interceptions (3). The Spartans will need big plays on defense to keep up with the Division VI elite in 8-man football.
Josh Pineda, Valley Christian, Sr., QB: After becoming the starter early in the 2010 regular season, he’ll be the guy from Day 1 this year. He completed just under 50 percent of his passes and rushed for 292 yards, but those totals will improve greatly this season while trying to lead a young, inexperienced group.
Andrew Preston, Scottsdale Christian, Sr., WR/DB: With the graduation of standout running back Chauncey Wright and a passing emphasis under new coach Willie Dudley, Preston should shine in a new offense, and probably won’t come off the field.
Aug. 26 Seton Catholic at Fountain Hills: Fountain Hills made the 3A semifinals two years ago and the quarterfinals last year. The Falcons are one of the better 3A programs, and it will be interesting to see how Seton fares in this one. It may be a precursor to how the teams’ seasons go.
Sept. 1 Tempe Prep at Valley Christian: The Trojans lost four games last season, but no loss stung more than the 25-0 beating the Knights put on them. The Trojans will be looking for a bit of redemption that they hope will propel them to a fast start.
Sept. 23 Scottsdale Prep at Gilbert Christian: A matchup of firsts — Gilbert Christian’s first varsity schedule in its brief existence, and Scottsdale Prep’s first foray into official competition. Both schools are putting a premium on football out of the gate and bring completely different approaches to this intra-Valley matchup.
Oct. 21 Scottsdale Christian at Valley Christian: The Eagles are far from the team that beat the Trojans twice last season, but that does not take any of the luster off of this annual grudge match.