August 6, 2004
Thirty-three members of the Chaparral varsity football squad graduated in May. Included in that number were 21 starters and four players who will play for Division-I college programs this fall.
So what's left for Chaparral coach Ron Estabrook to work with as his team goes through two-a-days at Northern Arizona University this week? Plenty of talent but little experience.
"They're good kids, good athletes, good players. They just don't have any varsity experience," Estabrook said. "We've got some indications from 7-on-7 (passing camps) and spring workouts, but it changes completely when you put the pads on."
The Firebirds' biggest question mark is at quarterback, a position manned by San Diego State signee Darren Mougey for the last two years.
The job will likely go to junior Nick Nuenfeldt, who should get plenty of repetitions during preseason practice since he missed the entire summer passing league schedule with a broken finger. Nuenfeldt's inexperience may lead Estabrook to rely more heavily on the running game than he did with Mougey under center.
"It wouldn't surprise me if we handed off (more), at least until I get comfortable with Nick," Estabrook said. "That's what camp is going to tell us."
Basha High and Notre Dame Prep are preparing for their first seasons of varsity football.
Both schools will play an eight-game, 4A independent schedule. They will join regions next season when a new two-year realignment block begins.
Teams that play the schools will have 11 games instead of 10. Games against Basha and Notre Dame will count on a team's overall record but will be thrown out for power points rankings.
Basha opens Aug. 27 at home against Apache Junction while Notre Dame plays at home that same night against Phoenix Sunnyslope.
Five of Mesa’s six high schools open the season at home Sept. 3, but two may have to play that opener on neutral turf.
Mesa High and Westwood are in the midst of having their tracks redone and it's a distinct possibility the work won't be completed by the first week of play. The tracks surround their football playing fields. Mesa is set to face westside power Peoria in its opener. The game will be played at Skyline High if the work at Mesa is not finished. Westwood hosts Desert Vista that night. A possible site for that game is McClintock.
MORE THAN A NEW COACH
New Mesa High coach Dennis Parker not only brought his playbook to town but his successful “Changing Lives Character Curriculum” that he presented on a trial basis to six of the Mesa district's 13 junior high football programs last week.
‘‘We thought we could use his expertise and try out the program with our junior highs,’’ Mesa district athletic director Steve Hogen said.
Hogen said a comparison will be done at the end of the season to see if there are detectable differences between the six junior highs that were introduced to the curriculum and the seven that were not.
A FULL BUS
Scottsdale Christian Academy coach Jeff Fox will be happy he had trouble squeezing everyone on the team bus Monday as the Eagles headed to New Mexico Highlands University for their first week of training camp with 52 players (varsity and junior varsity).
Just three years ago, the school almost didn't play a varsity schedule because it had less than 30 players.
"It's better than it has been," said Fox, in his second year at SCA. "The JV kids won't be forced to play varsity before they are ready."
Members of the 2A Metro Region, the Eagles open the season Aug. 27 at Mayer.
- Staff writers Brad Falduto and Les Willsey contributed to this report.