Tempe High Buffaloes
Division III, Section III
Coach: Brian Walker
Last year's record: 0-10
Returning starters offense: 4, including RB/LB Clayton Kelly, who ran for 290 yards in limited action on offense but is a dual threat with the ball and one of four running backs the Buffaloes have with high potential.
Returning starters defense: 6, including safety Dequan Hughes, another two-way player who’s part of an experienced secondary the Buffaloes will lean on defensively.
Schedule: Aug. 26 vs. McClintock; Sept. 2 at Poston Butte; Sept. 9 vs. Saguaro; Sept. 16 at Coronado; Sept. 23 vs. Washington; Sept. 30 at Apache Junction; Oct. 6 vs. Campo Verde; Oct. 14 at Seton Catholic; Oct. 21 at Arcadia; Oct. 28 vs. Maricopa
Aug. 26 vs. McClintock: The intra-city rivalry lives on with the new scheduling system (the schools are 2.8 miles apart), and what should be an improved Charger team won’t make it any easier than the past few years, which have been lopsided in favor of the Chargers.
Oct. 28 vs. Maricopa: The Rams put the dagger in Tempe with a 19-18 comeback victory in the last game of the season that would have been the Buffaloes’ lone win in 2010. Tempe has no interest in having this game be its last shot at victory again, but if it happens, that game might be brought up during the week.
Just as there’s no quick, easy way to break bad news, there’s no quick, easy fix to bring Tempe High football back from the bottom.
Brian Walker knows this, but the Buffaloes are hoping they found a way to at least push the pace.
Entering his third season at the school, Walker’s staff is a bit different than last year following an 0-10 campaign. There are a few more Tempe High alumni back helping out their former school — guys who played and coached during some glory years of the early and mid-1990s.
The biggest name is new offensive coordinator Tim McBurney, who won a state championship at the school in 1996 and eventually left to open Basha with more success.
In addition to new schemes — a 4-3 defense and a more run-heavy offense to better fit a stable of running backs — Walker noted 22 of 38 total kids who played varsity last year were back. Some of those losses were to graduation, so the return rate means something at a school where families and money are a daily struggle for some, and many never played football before high school.
“I think we’re headed in the right direction,” Walker said. “We have kids and administration being real supportive, and some new blood will help us reinvigorate.
“Everything is moving in the right direction. It’s about perseverence and not giving up.”