September 20, 2004
Westwood lost Channing Trotter to Red Mountain this summer, but the offensive production of the unbeaten Warriors has not waned in his absence.
Westwood coach Roger Suchomel has four juniors and a senior who currently rank as the team’s top rushers heading into Thursday’s 5A East Valley Region opener at Mesa High.
‘‘We talked to the kids the other night after practice, and I told them I think we have the best tailbackfullback tandem in the state,’’ Suchomel said.
‘‘There isn’t a drop-off no matter who’s in there.’’
Jay Leal and Kiegan Thompson are the tailbacks. Ricardo Garcia and senior Ryan Colbert are the fullbacks. Quarterback Brice Wilkins can wreak havoc, too, as he showed last Friday with touchdown runs of 80 and 8 yards on the option in a 36-34 win over Phoenix St. Mary’s. Another junior, Cyland Simmons, slips in for a play or two now and then.
Leal and Garcia have each rushed for 100 yards or more in two of the Warriors’ three games.
Wilkins was four yards shy of the century mark against St. Mary’s.
Ranks of unscathed dwindling: Ten 5A schools remain unbeaten after three weeks of play and five are local East Valley squads.
Defending state champion Hamilton, Chandler, Paradise Valley, Red Mountain and Westwood are the locals comprising half of the perfect teams to date. The others are Phoenix Brophy, Phoenix North, Peoria, Tucson Canyon del Oro and Tucson High.
Only two of the 10 schools have played teams with a combined record of .500 or better thus far, Red Mountain and Westwood. Their opponents’ combined records are 5-4. Chandler and Brophy’s opponents have the worst combined record (1-8) each.
DESERT VALLEY REGION
Fab five? Five of the seven Desert Valley teams have winning records, best of any 5A region. Paradise Valley and Brophy have yet to lose. The lone losses by Horizon, St. Mary’s and Phoenix North Canyon are to teams ranked in the top five. St. Mary’s’ loss was to Westwood while Horizon and North Canyon each have lost to Peoria. Region play begins Thursday in the Desert Valley with the key games matching North Canyon at Paradise Valley and St. Mary’s at Horizon.
Quarterback shuffle: Gilbert was forced to go to backup quarterback Aaron Wiese last week against Desert Vista. Wiese started because Micah Parker, the starter the first two weeks, suffered a broken hand against Mountain View. The injury wasn’t discovered until after that game.
Parker had a cast on the hand and came in for a couple of plays to hand the ball off against Desert Vista. Wiese will start again this week against Tucson Salpointe.