Corona del Sol Aztecs
Division I, Section II
Coach: Tom Joseph
Last year’s record: 1-10, missed playoffs
Returning starters offense: 3, including Andrus Peat, who’s one of the top recruits in the nation with a dozen top BCS schools awaiting his college of choice. The 6-7, 280-pound tackle will also see some snaps on defense.
Returning starters defense: 4, including linebacker Zack Hamm, who leads the middle of a solid defense after recording 92 total tackles, five passes defended and five fumble recoveries in 2010.
Aug. 26 at Basha; Sept. 2 vs. Westwood; Sept. 9 at Dobson; Sept. 16 vs. Highland; Sept. 23 vs. Desert Vista; Sept. 30 at Cibola; Oct. 6 at Mountain Pointe; Oct. 14 vs. Chandler; Oct. 21 vs. Mesquite; Oct. 28 at Hamilton
Aug. 26 at Basha: What a brutal introduction to the Tom Joseph era. Central Region rivals a few years ago, this season opener will be an enormous undertaking for the young, inexperienced Aztecs, but a great way to gauge how far they’ll have to go in the coming weeks.
Sept. 23 vs. Desert Vista: Another big test and another former region rival, this matchup pretty much begins the brutal conclusion to Corona’s schedule. An “upset” here would be big given how difficult wins will be the rest of the way.
Oct. 21 vs. Mesquite: Speaking of brutal conclusions, Corona can argue its month of October will be among the worst of anyone’s. If only for their style of play, the Wildcats could be Corona’s best chance at avoiding the O-fer-October and possibly put them at or near .500.
Since Rome wasn’t built in a day, it could be foolish to think Corona del Sol could be rebuilt in a season.
To their credit, many kids stuck around the program through former coach Zane Zamenski’s turbulent season and through the transition to former Mountain View coach Tom Joseph, who was hired in mid-December.
There is talent here to accompany the Aztecs’ new style, which, under Joseph, means an uptick or two in work ethic. Whether more answers emerge at key positions, and whether they survive a lack of depth will tell its 2011 story.
The Aztecs have anchors, especially on defense. Linebackers Zack Hamm and Nick Woods are solid to go with defensive end Avery Moss and (part-time) Andrus Peat. The front seven could be Corona’s strength all season while a relatively new secondary will get tested often.
“There’s no hiding in this (section),” Joseph said.
Offensively, Peat — one of the top lineman recruits in the country — is the anchor up front ahead of returning running back Dominic Mercurio (532 yards rushing).
What remains to be seen is whether a quarterback, wide receivers and remaining group of linemen emerge. That’s a lot.
The good news is that a few weeks of practice and discovery remains. The bad news: Corona’s schedule begins and winds down in brutal fashion.
“It’s really hard to tell at this point,” Joseph said. “We’re a work in progress, there’s a lot of things we still have to do. It’s the first time in a while they’ve really had to work hard.”