Coach: Dan Barnson, fifth season (24-18)
2010 record: 10-2 (7-1 Northwest)
Returning starters: eight offense, four defense
Top players: RB/CB Roderick Eason (Sr.); RB Donnie Gaskin (Jr.); RB Christian Rodriguez (Sr.); OT Elijah George (Jr.); G Jordan Mock (Sr.); S Steve Burns (Sr.); LB Alec Key; DE Jordan Eggleston (Jr.)
Outlook: The Aggies never had made the playoffs before last season but were among the area’s best teams a year ago.
Arbor View opened the 2010 campaign 9-0 before losing to eventual Sunset Region runner-up Palo Verde on the regular season’s final night. The Aggies’ other loss came to eventual state champion Bishop Gorman.
Arbor View’s double-wing offense should continue to control the ball, especially with backs Eason, Gaskin and Rodriguez back.
Gaskin rushed for 1,241 yards and 13 touchdowns to lead the team and earn first team All-Northwest League honors, but Eason (1,136 yards, 13 TDs) and Rodriguez (1,027 yards, seven TDs) weren’t far behind. Second-team all-state lineman George returns to help open holes for the talented trio.
The defense doesn’t return as much experience, but Burns was a first-team all-league pick at safety after recording 74 tackles, and Key was a second-team all-league pick at linebacker after finishing with 80 tackles and four sacks. Eason also will help in the secondary, where he was a second-team all-state pick.
Coach: Leon Evans, second season (8-4)
2010 record: 8-4 (5-3 Northwest)
Returning starters: seven offense, seven defense
Top players: G/DE Jerod Cody (Sr.); G Seth Dillard (Sr.); WR Cody Milford (Sr.); RB Jacobi Owens (Sr.); RB Coby Newton (Jr.); TE/DE Trajan Pili (Jr.); WR Najeem Popal (Sr.); QB Austin Turley (Jr.); QB Jacob Meltzer (Sr.); DB Isiac Catmull (Sr.); DB Josh Chappell (Sr.); LB Chris Johnson (Jr.); DL Jordan Karst (Jr.); LB Alex Mack (Sr.); Tim Mecham (Sr.)
Outlook: The Bulldogs played seven sophomores last year, and Evans said those players are expected to anchor the team this season.
Centennial will lean heavily on Owens to establish the ground game early. Pili, who has committed to Brigham Young, will be one of the leaders in what looks like an outstanding defensive front.
Palo Verde and Arbor View might be considered the favorites in the Northwest, but Centennial showed dramatic improvement in going from three to eight wins last year. The Bulldogs could be poised to take another step this season.
Coach: David Cochran, second season (4-5)
2010 record: 4-5 (3-5 Northwest)
Returning starters: eight offense, four defense
Top players: WR/RB/QB/DB Kenneth Counts (Sr.); RB/DB Tyler Spight (Sr.); TE/DE Dylan Power (Jr.); DE Torrie Garrett (Sr.)
Outlook: Cochran said the cohesion among his players is better in his second year at the helm, and he expects the Desert Shields to compete for a spot in the Sunset Region playoffs.
Counts, a reigning first-team all-league selection, will be relied upon heavily after rushing for 685 yards and 10 touchdowns, passing for 194 yards and two scores and catching 10 passes for 153 yards as a junior.
“(Counts) can do whatever we need him to do,” Cochran said. “He’s not really a true quarterback, but he’s really creative at making something happen. And defensively, he’s got a nose for the ball.”
Coach: John Parcells, first season
2010 record: 4-6 (4-4 Northwest)
Returning starters: six offense, six defense
Top players: QB Gerard Martinez (Sr.); RB/FS Taz Taoipu (Jr.); OL Aaron Manumaleuna (Jr.); LB DeMarlo Lewis (Sr.); S Tristan Grimmett (Jr.); LB Attwood Duncan (Sr.)
Outlook: Parcells inherits a team that had a streak of 15 consecutive postseason appearances end last year.
The Spartans must replace Christian Brown, a second-team All-Northwest League pick at running back after rushing for 1,039 yards and 11 touchdowns last year.
Martinez might have to shoulder more of the load this season. He threw for 2,146 yards and 33 TDs as a freshman in leading The Meadows to a Class 2A state title but struggled at times in his first year at the 4A level last season. He completed 44.1 percent of his passes for 972 yards and nine TDs.
Expect Taoipu to play a bigger role with the offense. He rushed for 353 yards and had 15 catches for 179 yards and scored seven total TDs last season.
On defense, Lewis was a second-team All-Northwest pick after recording 86 tackles, including 19 for loss, and recovering six fumbles last season. Taoipu should lead the secondary after posting 117 tackles as a sophomore.
The Spartans should be in contention for a playoff berth, but a spot won’t come easily in the Northwest League.
Coach: Jacob Kothe, 11th season
2010 record: 4-6 (2-6 Northwest)
Returning starters: three offense, one defense
Top players: QB Gino DeGeorge (Sr.); RB/WR/DB Brad Pearson (Sr.); OLB Trey Jasonek (Sr.)
Outlook: The Crusaders failed to make the playoffs despite having two all-state players in Don Pearson and Brett Lubbe, the area’s top passer in Joe Portaro and a two-way all-league performer in A.J. Kaplan.
Now Faith Lutheran must find a way to win without that quartet.
DeGeorge steps in at quarterback, but he attempted just 18 passes last year and has big shoes to fill. Portaro passed for 2,871 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushed for 10 scores last season.
Despite the loss of Don Pearson (72 catches, 1,033 yards, nine TDs) and Lubbe (58 catches, 661 yards, four TDs), Kothe said he thinks his team can spread the ball around more this season with depth at receiver.
Brad Pearson returns to lead the defense after intercepting five passes last season.
Coach: David Snyder, sixth season (25-26)
2010 record: 4-6 (3-5 Northwest)
Returning starters: seven offense, six defense
Top players: FB/LB Steffan Webb (Sr.); RB/WR/DB L.J. McMorris (Sr.); RB/LB D’Andre Hughes (Sr.); OLB Randy Ricks (Jr.); OLB Lamarus Williams (Jr.)
Outlook: The Longhorns fell off significantly after winning the Northwest League title in 2009. But Snyder said the team is better this year, as many players picked up a year of experience.
McMorris is capable of making a big play every time he touches the ball, but injuries limited him to 624 yards last season.
Hughes (427 yards, six TDs) is another weapon in the backfield, and the physical Webb should be a factor on both sides of the ball.
The Longhorns might not win the league title this season, but they should be back in the playoff hunt.
Coach: Joe Delgado, first season
2010 record: 0-9 (0-8 Northwest)
Returning starters: seven offense, seven defense
Top players: WR/OLB Bryant Lewis (Sr.); OL/DL Marcus Smith (Sr.); OL/DL Sevaughn Thomas (Sr.); QB Billy Murphy (Jr.); TE/DE Brandin Card (Sr.)
Outlook: Delgado said his players have been receptive to learning new systems on offense and defense. “It’s been hard on them, but they’ve done well. The kids are positive,” he said.
Delgado said an offensive line that will average 280 to 300 pounds is “definitely going to be the nucleus” for the Rattlers.
“The great thing is, we’re flying under the radar,” Delgado said. “We don’t have a target on our backs, so we can come out and surprise some people.”
Mojave has plenty of work to do after being outscored 354-90 in a winless season last year, but the defense should receive a boost from Card, who transferred from Silverado after recording 54 tackles and five sacks in 2010.
Coach: Darwin Rost, 16th season (119-38)
2010 record: 12-1 (8-0 Northwest)
Returning starters: four offense, five defense
Top players: RB/LB Eric South (Sr.); RB/DB Jonathan Maxwell (Sr.); G Heath Andreasen (Sr.); OT Myles Elgaard (Sr.); TE/LB Jerrol Garcia-Williams (Sr.); RB/DB Jake Witham (Sr.); RB/DB Ryan Beaulieu (Jr.); DE Josh Symonette (Sr.); DT Dillon Chaisson (Sr.)
Outlook: The Panthers have continued to be the team to beat in the Northwest League in recent years and should continue to be among the contenders for the league title.
But Palo Verde will have to reload quickly this season, after losing eight players who earned all-league honors.
Palo Verde racked up 4,347 rushing yards with its double-wing offense and will continue to focus on the ground game, but the Panthers must find a replacement for Brandon Wright (1,632 rushing yards) as the featured back.
Maxwell rushed for 791 yards last year and figures to get the first shot as the go-to back, and he should get help from South (295 rushing yards) and Beaulieu (283 rushing yards).
Elgaard was a second-team all-state pick and returns to anchor the line, but the Panthers will have to fill some key spots up front.
Defensively, Chaisson (57 tackles, nine sacks) and Symonette (91 tackles, 11 sacks) should form a tremendous one-two punch up front. But linebackers Austin Whalen and Demetrius Ballard will be tough to replace.
Coach: Frank Tousa, first season
2010 record: 6-5 (4-4 Northwest)
Returning starters: one offense, two defense
Top players: OLB/WR Robbie Mokiao (Jr.); RB/DB Ryan Johnson (Jr.); WR/DB Aaron Collins (Sr.)
Outlook: Tousa inherits a team with next to no experience, as the Mustangs were made up almost entirely of seniors last season when they made their first playoff appearance since 2006.
The team has good numbers, with 50 players on the squad, but inexperience could hurt early in the season.
Tousa is excited to see how the youngsters perform at the varsity level and doesn’t believe a playoff push is out of the question.
Coach: Tony Sanchez, third season (28-2)
2010 record: 13-2 (8-0 Southwest)
Returning starters: 10 offense, six defense
Top players: QB Jarrett Solomon (Jr.); RB Shaquille Powell (Sr.); WR Ryan Smith (Jr.); OL Ronnie Stanley (Sr.); OL Ron Scoggins (Sr.); OL Nick Strehlow (Sr.); OLB/S Marc Philippi (Sr.); DE Zach Hutchins (Sr.); LB Ben Guida (Sr.)
Outlook: The two-time defending state champion Gaels return nearly their entire offensive unit after averaging 46.1 points last season.
Stanley, Scoggins and Strehlow are three-year starters on the line and will open plenty of holes for Powell (1,292 yards, 17 touchdowns).
Solomon was an all-state pick after throwing for 2,412 yards and 41 TDs as a sophomore. Smith caught 38 passes for 935 yards and 16 scores and should be the top target.
On defense, the Gaels lost four all-state players and another starter who is playing at Navy, but Sanchez said the new group should come together quickly.
Philippi will play some outside linebacker this season after earning all-state honors at safety last season.
Gorman might lose a couple of games again, but they probably will come against tough national opponents and not in league games.
Coach: Shawn Dupris, fifth season (16-25)
2010 record: 5-5 (4-4 Southwest)
Returning starters: four offense, four defense
Top players: OL/LB Tim Sweeney (Sr.); OL Jaden Nakata (Sr.); OL Curtis Montenegro (Sr.); DB Colton Bennion (Jr.)
Outlook: The Bengals were about as good an offensive team as there was in town last season, and they still failed to make the playoffs.
Now Bonanza must find a way to replace its top two offensive threats in Review-Journal Player of the Year Dasean Martin and first-team All-Southwest League quarterback Sterling Sprau.
Martin rushed for 1,148 yards, caught 47 passes for 1,055 yards and accounted for 202 of the team’s 384 points. Sprau passed for 2,204 yards and 18 touchdowns and rushed for 619 yards and nine scores for a team that averaged 38.4 points.
Unfortunately for Bonanza, its defense was dismal at times, surrendering an average of 44.1 points.
Dupris will look for returning linemen Sweeney, Nakata and Montenegro to help inexperienced skill players carry the offensive load, and the defense almost has to be better than it was a year ago.
Coach: Don Willis, sixth season (14-35)
2010 record: 3-7 (3-5 Southwest)
Returning starters: four offense, five defense
Top players: TE/LB Vance Gilbert (Sr.); FB Shane McLin (Sr.); RB Marquis McKinney (Sr.); DE Erik Rocha (Sr.)
Outlook: Willis usually has had at least one proven running back to lean on in recent seasons, but that’s not the case this year, as graduation took Chris Jackson (1,208 rushing yards, 19 touchdowns) and Derrick West (593 rushing yards, five TDs).
Willis is high on fullback McLin, who is healthy after missing a good chunk of last season because of injury.
McKinney rushed for 424 yards last season but lined up primarily at receiver and, at about 150 pounds, isn’t as solidly built as many of Clark’s recent backs.
The offensive line should be improved, as Willis said he relied on sophomores in key spots last season.
Gilbert was the team’s leading receiver with 12 catches and second-leading tackler with 51 last season. He’s back for his third year as a starter and should provide leadership.
A strong start could give the Chargers the confidence to push for a playoff berth.
Coach: Scott Staudinger, first season
2010 record: 8-3 (7-1 Southwest)
Returning starters: eight offense, eight defense
Top players: FB Devin Fortenberry (Jr.); TB Brandon Andrews (Sr.); G Loni Fonau (Sr.); LB Kyle Henry (Sr.); CB Tre Barnes (Sr.); LB Jonah Montenegro (Sr.)
Outlook: The Diamondbacks earned a home playoff berth last season and should be in the mix for one of the league’s top two seeds again this year.
Fortenberry and Andrews return to give the team a strong running game. Fortenberry rushed for 985 yards and 19 touchdowns as a sophomore, and Andrews added 777 yards and seven TDs despite having just 25 carries in the team’s first eight games.
Fortenberry was a first-team All-Southwest League pick at fullback, and Andrews made the second team at running back.
Henry, a second team all-state linebacker who had 144 tackles and six sacks, and Montenegro (89 tackles) will lead the defense.
Barnes, who had five interceptions a year ago, will key the secondary. The Diamondbacks will need to find replacements on the line for all-state nose tackle Angelo Bianco (11 sacks) and All-Southwest League defensive end Jovan Palmer.
Coach: Gary Maki, fourth season (16-16)
2010 record: 7-4 (6-2 Southwest)
Returning starters: two offense, four defense
Top players: OL Aleks Vekic (Sr.); OL Bing Lin (Sr.); DB Antonio Nieves (Sr.); LB Tyler Lavin (Sr.); RB/LB A.J. McQuaig (Jr.); QB Scott Martinez (Jr.); OL Ben Rush (Jr.); DL Ignacio Mendoza (Sr.)
Outlook: The Trailblazers emerged as a threat in the Sunset Region the past two years but must replace 16 starters, including big-time scorers Julio Mora and Donovan Smith.
With Mora and Smith leading the way, Durango averaged 38.6 points last season. Mora rushed for 1,710 yards and 23 touchdowns, and Smith had 760 rushing yards and 535 receiving yards and scored 14 TDs.
Also gone is quarterback Chase Roberts, who passed for 1,969 yards and 17 TDs.
Durango will have to rely on new faces in the skill positions, but two key linemen return in 300-pounders Vekic and Lin.
Maki said the team hopes to make a third consecutive playoff appearance. And with Gorman appearing to be the lone dominant team in the Southwest, the Trailblazers should be in contention for the postseason.
Coach: Andy Schneider, first season
2010 record: 0-10 (0-8 Southwest)
Returning starters: six offense, nine defense
Top players: FB Jon Mitchell (Sr.); WB/LB Brandon Murphy (Sr.); LB James Terry (Sr.)
Outlook: The Trojans haven’t won since the opening week of the 2008 season when they beat Mountain View 23-18, losing 28 consecutive games since then.
Pahrump scored just 96 points last season, but Mitchell (821 rushing yards) and Murphy (240 rushing yards) are back to lead the offense.
Schneider said the team has high expectations and has worked hard in the offseason, but it’s hard to imagine Pahrump contending for a playoff berth in the Southwest League.
The Trojans are 0-23 in league games since moving to Class 4A for the 2008 season and were outscored 357-64 in league games last season.
Coach: Mark Sauve, seventh season (20-42)
2010 record: 1-9 (1-7 Southwest)
Returning starters: five offense, eight defense
Top players: WR/RB/CB Matt Murphy (Sr.); RB Justin Green (So.); FB Ryan Pheung (Sr.); WR/OLB Tim Jenkins (Jr.); WR Travelle Williams (Jr.); OT Andy Jones (Sr.); QB/RB/DT Daniel Gray (Sr.); NT/MLB Kekoa Miles (Sr.); LB Michael Dominique (Jr.); FS Ramarius Cooley (Sr.); OLB Keiron Pope (Jr.)
Outlook: Sauve said his team should be “greatly improved over last season” thanks to better size on the offensive line, improved maturity at the skill positions and a solid training camp.
“We’re not a 1-9 team this year,” he said. “We hope to surprise some people.”
It will help having back the versatile Murphy, who will move around on offense and isn’t likely to leave the field often.
Sierra Vista has moved away from the option to a more balanced offense, and Sauve said a multitude of running backs will get carries this season.
Coach: Marcus Teal, second season (6-5)
2010 record: 6-5 (5-3 Southwest)
Returning starters: two offense, three defense
Top players: RB/WR/DB Nick Santos (Sr.); OL/DL Devin Dishari (Jr.); LB/RB Raymond Waters (Sr.); SS/LB Rondale Scruggs (Sr.); DB/WR Angelo Foschi-Gioeli (Sr.); DB/QB Jourdain Taylor-Jackson (Sr.); DL/OL C.J. Rochester (Sr.)
Outlook: Teal admits this is a rebuilding year for the Grizzlies, with little experience returning.
Santos is Spring Valley’s top returning offensive player. He led the Grizzlies with 34 catches for 443 yards last season and also rushed for 163 yards.
But the team must replace quarterback Cox, who passed for 1,581 yards and 11 scores and rushed for 447 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
The defense is in slightly better shape with second-team All-Southwest League outside linebacker Waters returning. He led the team with 79 tackles last season.
Also back is Foschi-Gioeli, who intercepted four passes and was a second-team all-league selection.
Sophomore Sean Clancey was an impact player on Spring Valley’s basketball team as a freshman and could provide a similar spark on the football field.
Coach: Fernando Carmona, third season (4-14)
2010 record: 3-6 (2-6 Southwest)
Returning starters: five offense, three defense
Top players: RB Reggie Williams (Sr.); QB/RB Jamaree Walker (Sr.); TE Anthony Hungerholt (Sr.); FB Michi Richard (Sr.); G Colton Feliciano (Sr.); OT Marshall Taylor (Sr.); WR Sean Seglin (Sr.); OT Adam Arizag (Sr.); CB Devonte Walker (Sr.)
Outlook: The Warriors closed the season with back-to-back wins over Sierra Vista and Pahrump Valley and hope that is a sign of things to come. But in the previous six games, Western was outscored 317-39.
Carmona said the offensive line will be the key, with seniors Feliciano, Arizag and Taylor leading the way. The coach said Williams and Jamaree Walker look to be the primary ball carriers and also will key the defense.
Carmona said his team will rely on young players in key spots but likes their work ethic and attitude. The coach hopes to qualify for the postseason, though serious strides will need to be made to get into playoff contention.
Sunset Region Football Capsules