VX Football Preview: Mountain View Toros - East Valley Tribune: Mountain View (Mesa)

VX Football Preview: Mountain View Toros

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Posted: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 3:06 pm | Updated: 11:39 am, Tue Sep 25, 2012.

Mountain View Toros

Division I, Section III

Coach: Chad DeGrenier

Last year’s record: 4-6, did not qualify for Division I playoffs.

Returning offensive starters: 5, including quarterback Chase Funk, who threw for 1,194 yards with eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season.

Returning defensive starters: 8, including linebacker Brandan Banker, who had a team-high 65 tackles and two and a half sacks last year.

Schedule

Aug. 24 vs. Desert Mountain; Aug. 31 at Desert Ridge; Sept. 7 vs. Skyline; Sept. 14 at Mountain Ridge; Sept. 21 vs. Westwood; Sept. 28 vs. Pinnacle; Oct. 5 at Red Mountain; Oct. 12 vs. Highland; Oct. 19 at Mountain Pointe; Oct. 26 at Mesa

Key games

Aug. 24 vs. Desert Mountain: It was apparent early on last season that the Toros would struggle after a 43-7 loss to the Wolves in the regular season opener. This should be another good indication, as Mountain View returns many defensive starters but must try to slow down Desert Mountain quarterback Kyle Allen and wide receiver Mark Andrews.

Sept. 28 vs. Pinnacle: The Toros could be on the playoff bubble at this juncture in the season, and a win over the Pioneers would be very important. Pinnacle defeated Mountain View easily last year, and this is the type of game the Toros must win to get back onto the road of success.

Oct. 5 at Red Mountain: Mountain View has traditionally done well in this rivalry, but Red Mountain dominated last year, 55-14. The Mountain Lions will be heavy favorites to win this matchup again.

Outlook

Chad DeGrenier’s potent air-it-out style was grounded last season at Mountain View. While he won a state championship behind a devastating aerial attack at Cactus Shadows in 2006 and continued to excel with that scheme in subsequent years, the personnel wasn’t right in his first season coaching the Toros.

Instead, Mountain View was reduced to many I-formation looks and opposing defenses stacked the box to stop the run, leading to limited offensive success. The team missed the playoffs and now questions persist about the Toros’ ability to stay relevant.

The program has been in steady decline the past four seasons and DeGrenier was hired a year ago to turn it around. He has a history of improving his program as he gets settled, and has 13 returning starters with which to work.

Quarterback Chase Funk started last year as a sophomore, and though his numbers (113-of-206 for 1,194 yards with 8 TD, 10 INT) were pedestrian, DeGrenier said getting that experience will help him.

“He’s a much better leader,” DeGrenier said. “It’s tough being a quarterback here at Mountain View with our rich history. That’s a lot of pressure as a sophomore and Chase handled it as good as he could have.”

Funk’s arm strength has improved and he is a better runner since last year, DeGrenier said. The team averaged only 3.56 yards per carry a season ago and will be running back by committee again, with Caleb Nicoll, Cayman Nielson and Weston Birtcher expected to get most of the carries.

Mountain View’s fortunes may rest on its defense. Eight starters are back, including Brandan Banker, who had a team-best 65 tackles a year ago. The team had trouble slowing down the best teams on their schedule and will need to improve in all facets this year.

The schedule is workable for Mountain View, which has some tough opponents in Desert Ridge, Red Mountain and Mountain Pointe but also many winnable games.

“We’re improved from a year ago but we definitely have a lot of work to do,” DeGrenier said. “We’re still kind of growing. Our goal is to get in the playoffs and get hot.”

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