Conference/Region: 5A-II/Desert Valley
2008 record: 1-9
Coach: Steve Casey, sixth year, 27-29
Returning offensive starters: 8, including junior quarterback Ryan Stanford who completed 53 percent of his passes for more than 2,000 yards.
Returning defensive starters: 8, including junior Matt Colucci, a third-year starter at defensive end.
Outlook: It’s all about the boys up front.
Silver linings have been few and far between at Scottsdale Horizon the past couple of seasons. A 3-17 record is difficult to sugarcoat.
But beneath two years of on-field frustration is a young group growing in numbers. The Huskies are back up to 45 players on varsity and will have five seniors on defense, three on offense. Most of a plentiful junior class played varsity as sophomores. Plus Dane Pearce is back after he suffered a torn ACL in the first week of practice last year and missed the season.
In other words, nearly everyone returns, and that may not sound sweet for a team that averaged less than two yards per carry and forced the Huskies to throw 90 percent of the time, but Horizon can only ascend at this point.
“You know what they say about potential,” Huskies coach Steve Casey said. “The ability is there, we just have to see it as a finished product.
“No holding punches, we weren’t very good last year. There’s a lot riding on our success having that line do some of the things we want to do.“
Besides a running game which was nonexistent, the trenches would also make returning quarterback Ryan Stanford’s life easier. He threw for 2,000 yards but also had 18 touchdowns and 27 interceptions. Having to throw on every down and scrambling for his life at times didn’t help.
Thanks to their youth absorbing these rough experiences, the Huskies feel they’re closer to turning a corner, and though it’s made for trying times in a once-successful program, wins will trickle in again, and victory will be more satisfying given those trying times.
“When you go 3-17 the last two years that’s what you look for,” Casey said. “Any coach worth his salt, even 14-0 coaches, better realize they’re touching kids far beyond winning games.”
Sept. 4 vs. Yuma
Sept. 11 vs. Goldwater
Sept. 17 at Sandra Day O’Connor
Sept. 25 at Central
Oct. 2 vs. Mesa
Oct. 8 at Chaparral
Oct. 15 at St. Mary’s
Oct. 23 vs. North Canyon
Oct. 30 vs. Desert Mountain
Nov. 6 at Pinnacle
-- Oct. 2 vs. Mesa: With a significantly easier nonregion schedule than last year, the Huskies have a good chance to notch a couple wins before this game. Win or lose, the Huskies should learn a lot against the 5A-I Jackrabbits.
-- Nov. 6 at Pinnacle: The Huskies pulled off a big fourth-quarter comeback only to fall at the end. It was their closest loss of the season.