Marcos de Niza Padres
Conference/Region: 5A-II/East Valley
Last year’s record: 12-2, lost to Chaparral in state championship game.
Returning starters offense: 5, including RB Anthony Shivers, a speedster who ran for 678 yards and six TD last year but should see the ball extensively following the departures of Ramon Abreu and Justin Rodriguez.
Returning starters defense: 6, including junior LB Adam Pavlenko, the next in a line of standout Pavlenko athletes to go through the school. He had 68 tackles and three interceptions as a sophomore.
Aug. 27 vs. Mountain View (Marana); Sept. 3 at La Joya; Sept. 10 vs. Valley Vista: Sept. 16 at Deer Valley; Sept. 24 vs. Desert Ridge; Oct. 1 vs. Westwood; Oct. 8 at Perry; Oct. 22 at Casa Grande; Oct. 29 vs. Skyline; Nov. 5 at Mountain Pointe
Sept. 24 vs. Desert Ridge: This is probably the first true test of the season for the Padres, who should have little trouble getting through the first few games of the schedule. If you like offense, this could be the place to be.
Nov. 5 at Mountain Pointe: Decided the region championship last year in a four-quarter slugfest last year Mountain Pointe won by a field goal. Desert Ridge might have something to say about this, but little reason to believe this regular season finale can’t decide the East Valley again.
Marcos de Niza shocked the state when it defeated Peoria Centennial in the 5A-II state semifinals last year before succumbing to Chaparral in the championship game.
With quarterback Zach Schira, leading receiver Justin Rodriguez and Tribune Player of the Year Ramon Abreu graduating, maybe expectations should be tempered for this year, but the Padres are looking to surprise people again.
Despite those key losses, Marcos de Niza has younger players ready to fill in. Anthony Shivers split carries with Abreu last year, but has a wealth of talent and this could be his breakout campaign. Martwon Weaver and JeRyan Butler have speed to burn, and will cause matchup problems on offense and stick to defenders in the secondary.
Linebacker Adam Pavlenko is the heart of the defense at linebacker. Quarterback was a question mark, but Colorado transfer Tommy Thornton looked good in the summer leagues, and has stabilized that position. Marcos de Niza was thrilled with the upset of Centennial last season, but Pavlenko said the team was still disappointed that it ultimately fell one game short of the title.
This year, the Padres are looking to complete the unfinished business.