Reigning state flag football player of the year Tiarra Del Rosario stood silently on the barren field behind Cimarron-Memorial High School on Monday afternoon.
Coaches are in the midst of tailoring another gameplan around her right arm in advance of their Class 4A Sunset quartefinal game against Sierra Vista, but she remains unfazed by the literal and metaphorical pressure that accompanies the quarterback position.
Opposing defenses don’t seem to bother her, either.
Del Rosario, who threw for 5,046 yards and 66 touchdowns last season, is in the midst of another incredible campaign for the defending Class 4A state champion Spartans (14-4). The junior leads the state with 4,476 passing yards and 62 touchdowns while adding 595 rushing yards and seven more scores in coach Mark Bailey’s offensive system — one molded to fit her strong, precise throwing arm.
“Once we kind of learned the system she could play in, we asked her to throw high-percentage short passes,” Spartans coach Mark Bailey said, “and beat them deep when needed.”
Del Rosario loves throwing the deep ball, like her favorite NFL quarterback, Derek Carr, who plays for the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders.
She loves the Raiders, too, along with the rest of her family, and had always watched professional football, but didn’t play flag until older sister, Rosie, persuaded her to try out in 2015-16, her freshman season.
Bailey rotated multiple quarterbacks that season before settling on Del Rosario as as the unprecedented starter and future of the program.
“It took me a year to learn how to play, where to throw the ball at and all the plays and stuff like that,” she said. “I caught up fast.”
Did she ever. Del Rosario guided Cimarron to a 21-1 record in 2016-17 and a 24-7 victory over Coronado in the Class 4A state championship game.
The Spartans’ top three receviers all graduated, but they reloaded this season behind their quarterback and soccer player Samantha Silva, who leads the state with 2,004 receiving yards and 40 touchdowns in this, her first year of flag football.
“She tells us how exactly where to go. She knows where to put the ball and she knows exactly how the game is,” Silva said. “She knows the game like the back of her hand.”
Del Rosario studies football during the NFL season in an effort to improve, and observes how different professional quarterbacks beat blitzes and other defensive schemes.
After flag football season, she’ll join Cimarron’s varsity softball team, for which she’s played center field since her freshman year.
The softball hasn’t had the same success (finishing 3-17 last season), but she said, “ … we’re getting there.”
Her flag football team is good, though.
Because of her.