For Arizona College Prep High School, the year 2021 was the start of a new era. For the football team in particular, the potential future of this team looks very captivating.
On July 21, 2021, an empty lot in Gilbert became the new home for Arizona College Prep. For years the team has been jumping around from one location to another, and the wild part of all this is that they never had a home field until now.
Myron Blueford, head coach of the Knights’ football team is pleased with the new campus and facilities that have been built. That is the driving force behind students trying to transfer to the school. The size of the student body is currently 1,300 with a capacity of 3,000. The number of students interested in transferring is increasing, which means the amount of football players who are focused on joining the team has gone up considerably.
“We have always been the little brother because we have been a smaller school than everybody else. With us moving here, it just made it more appealing for kids to come here,” Blueford said.
The football team is enjoying a new state-of-the art facility including a brand new field with new equipment. And in the words of Blueford, a “professional” caliber weight room.
With all the excitement and bubbling anticipation comes the obstacles that this team will have to fight through for another three weeks.
The squad is currently without five rotational players who are ineligible to play due to the Arizona high school transfer rules. Noah Deogracias, Ravi Bushanam, Gavin Ellis, Braydon Peterson, and Tyler Grainger will not be able to play in a game until Week 6 of the season.
Not only that, but this team lost 11 seniors this past year and the Knights have a lot of new talent to work with this season. The program has been building on a high note the last few years, and it is leading to players being noticed and playing at the next level.
“This last year, I had six out of eleven kids playing college ball at key positions. So literally all of the key positions were all four year starters who are now college bound. This year we are kind of replacing all of that. We have a lot of talent, it is just figuring out what the new team is going to look like,” Blueford said.
Their start does not exactly look fantastic on paper, but for Blueford’s squad, it is just a matter of figuring out what they are working with at each position. It is obviously not going to be the easiest start when you are missing key starters and trying to bring young starters up to speed.
Look no further than junior Jayden Diaz who has brought an entirely different play style to the Knights’ offense.
“Our previous quarterback for four years was a pocket passer not running anywhere, but he could throw the ball all over the place,” Blueford said. “Our current quarterback is a track kid who can run like the wind, so it’s just trying to figure out how our offense is going to be. It’s the first time he’s played quarterback; he was a starter for us playing receiver last year, so he knew going in it was going to be a feeling out process.”
The team’s schedule will be a major test as the season goes on for what this team is capable of. They have started off the season 2-2 coming off a massive 56-0 win against the Odyssey Institute this past Friday.
Jerron Salazar, a junior, has been one of the upperclassmen leaders this season, and he believes that the team’s overall mindset is where it should be.
“Coming off of a good summer, I thought with all the seven on sevens we looked well. We just wanted to come off of that and play as hard as we can and just do our role and do what we need to do to try to win and compete,” Salazar said. “I think once we do get everybody back we will start moving and go on a roll.”
The team has a tough schedule ahead, but if this team’s mentality is any indication of what’s to come, they should be fully ready for the challenge.
Arizona College Prep will play their next game on Friday, Sept. 24 against Coronado High School where they will look to make it three straight wins. Salazar says this is where they truly will show what this new era of Knight football looks like.
“I think the next few weeks will really show what we are about,” Salazar said.