Division II, Section III
Coach: Doug Shaffer
Last year's record: 5-5, did not qualify for Division II playoffs
Returning offensive starters: 5, including running back, who figures to be a focal point of the offense and one of three Quinn brothers starting for the Huskies.
Returning defensive starters: 3, including inside linebacker Josh Ferguson who'll lead a young, inexperienced crew.
Aug. 24 vs. North Canyon; Aug. 31 at Goldwater; Sept. 7 at Shadow Mountain; Sept. 14 vs. Deer Valley; Sept. 21 at Pinnacle; Sept. 28 at Sunnyslope; Oct. 4 vs. Cactus Shadows; Oct. 12 at Camelback; Oct. 19 vs. Chaparral; Oct. 26 vs. Notre Dame (at Scottsdale Community College)
Sept. 21 at Pinnacle: A big test defensively for the Huskies against a solid Division I program. The numbers aren't in Horizon's favor but an upset or even decent showing would boost confidence in what could be the toughest to date.
Oct. 4 vs. Cactus Shadows: Another big test for the revamped defense that's full of potential. Cactus Shadows passing game could be elite in Division II, but the Huskies won last year by running the ball and pounding Cactus Shadows' defense with ball control.
Oct. 26 vs. Notre Dame (at SCC): This could decide a playoff spot, and the difficult schedule the Saints play may not help the Huskies much if Horizon can't pull out a victory.
It worked so well in the past, why not try it again?
Horizon made sweeping changes after another struggling season in 2011 and parental dismay, and Doug Shaffer was brought back as the team's coach after being the freshman coach for most of the past decade.
Before that, he led Horizon to its only state championship in 1994 and another trip to the title game in 1995.
With Shaffer's return to the big time comes a new staff. Anthony Paterno is the Huskies offensive coordinator after he played for and then coached with Shaffer for a combined 18 years. Greg Patrick was also hired to run the defense from Chaparral, and former Husky and University of Washington lineman Clayton Walker is in charge of the boys in the trenches.
There's talent to be coached. The Quinn brothers comprise the offensive backfield (Victor will be at QB, Charlie and Luke will be running backs), and the line will be led by 270-pound sophomore Jake Grant.
Otherwise, however, the Huskies are short in size and experience, so it will use its quickness with its skill position players to move the chains and put up points.
That's not a bad thing to rely on when it comes to trying to earn a playoff spot.
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.