Mesa High coach Kelley Moore had reason to be ecstatic last season in his first year patrolling the sidelines for the Jackrabbits.
He also had reason to be flabbergasted.
“We had a good season,” Moore said. “It was close to being a great season.”
That’s an understatement of huge proportion. Mesa posted a 6-4 regular-season mark. It’s four losses were to Phoenix Desert Vista, Phoenix Brophy, Mesa Mountain View and Mesa Dobson. The Jackrabbits led each of those games with one quarter remaining. They ended up losing all four by getting outscored collectively 64-7 in the final stanza.
A play or two here or there and the Jackrabbits could have and should have been 9-1 or 10-0.
“No doubt we had trouble in the fourth quarter,” Moore said, still with an incredulous tone in his voice. “This is a new year. We’re optimistic we can have another good season. Initially I think we will execute a lot better than last year with the kids having a year in our system.”
Moore has position battles raging at numerous spots on both sides of the ball. Offensive personnel will be brand new. The defense returns three players, who were instrumental in helping along a solid unit in 2007.
“With (Pasiaka) Fahina, (Zack) Stradling and (Ty) Nunez, we have three really good players leading us there,” Moore said. “We have more depth this year, which is why we have so much competition for spots. We’ll know how much depth we have by about Week 5.”
By Moore’s count off of one preseason ranking, Mesa will face eight of the top 15 teams in 5A.
So they must overcome graduation losses of Keelan Johnson, Kyree Hart. Tony Gallegos and Beau Gardner. And as Moore puts it, “Get after it.”