Red Mountain Mountain Lions
Division I, Section III
Coach: Ron Wisniewski
Last year’s record: 6-5, lost to Mountain Pointe in first round of 5A-I playoffs
Returning starters offense: 4, including tight end Billy Freeman, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound senior who should see more passes thrown his way this season and has Division I colleges in pursuit.
Returning starters defense: 4, including linebacker Dalton Kirk, a junior who played nearly every snap as a sophomore.
Aug. 26 at Westview; Sept. 2 at Mesquite; Sept. 9 vs. Brophy; Sept. 16 vs. Mesa; Sept. 23 at Gilbert; Sept. 30 vs. Desert Ridge; Oct. 6 at Mountain View; Oct. 14 at Westwood; Oct. 21 at Skyline; Oct. 28 vs. Highland
Sept. 9 vs. Brophy: Both Westview and Mesquite will be difficult early tests, but Brophy figures to present challenges Red Mountain won’t have seen, especially offensively, which leads the defense to have to come up big for this important sectional game.
Sept. 16 vs. Mesa: Speaking of improvement, the Jackrabbits figure they’re going to do the same. Even in a down year of 2010, Mesa hung with Red Mountain most of the night, and the way the Jackrabbits hit and swarm on defense, Red Mountain has a great chance to show they can match such physicality.
Sept. 30 vs. Desert Ridge: Speaking of defense, The Lions won’t have seen an offensive attack quite like what Desert Ridge can do. The 2010 state runners-up figure to be good again, and it could be the last primo litmus test (if not Mountain View the following week) because the end-of-season schedule looks pretty favorable.
Athletes and speed will be the name of the game in Ron Wisniewski’s second season at Red Mountain. With four starters back on each side of the ball and a hand’s worth of kids with Division I college offers on their respective tables, the biggest addition could be Marcus Brantley, who transferred from Gilbert.
Wisniewski said Brantley transferred because his family situation deteriorated to where a family friend took legal custody of him, and the family lived in Red Mountain’s boundaries. Brantley will play full-time on defense and see significant time on offense at wide receiver. “He will play as many snaps as his body will allow,” Wisniewski said.
Wisniewski raved about Mason Thorman’s potential as a junior quarterback, but that competition is still ongoing.
The Lions return three kids who saw significant action on the offensive line, led by center Quin Ficklin. The defense is youthful with Dalton Kirk and Jonah Reinholtz as the only two starters back from last year’s front seven, but that doesn’t mean the Lions won’t be better. Even without varsity experience, nearly everyone in the program will have gone through Wisniewski’s system.
“When practice starts (Monday) the kids know the system, and we can run every play in the book instead of trying to figure out where to line up,” he said.