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 Post subject: Top Teams in 2017?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 8:41 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2014 7:02 am
Posts: 347
Although this is way too early to make pre-season predictions for the 3A's 2017 football season, we can get an idea who might be the favorites based on the players expected to return for those teams. The number on the left is where that school finished in the 2016 season (see earlier post on this board) and then listing the key returnees.

5. Florence (10-3 in 2016) -- No. 1 passer in 3A this season, Quarterback Jared Wood (2,870 yards and 37 touchdowns), and No. 3 rusher in 3A this year, Nolan Susel (1,285 yards and 18 touchdowns). Also, Gophers will probably return their top three receivers from this year, and the defense could be led by outside linebacker Shelton Mathis (8.9 tackles per game) and 6-2, 260-pound nose guard Nikolaus Arnold (6.2 tackles per game).

2. Sabino (12-2 in 2016) -- Quarterback Alex Bell (1,636 yards and 18 touchdowns), its No. 2 running back Isaiah Smotherman and No. 4 receiver Bennett Nottingham.

1. American Leadership Academy (14-1 in 2016) -- Back-up Quarterback Matthew Nevill filled in for injured starter Dallin Edwards for about half the season and still had 1,098 yards and 12 touchdowns passing. Top receiver Bujon Boyd (36 catches, 316 yards and 11 touchdowns) also is expected to return.

11. Casteel (9-2 in 2016) -- Since they only had sophomores and freshmen this season, everyone will return ... including 3A's No. 3 Quarterback Gunner Cruz (2,600 yards and 30 touchdowns passing), running back Mack Johnson (939 yards and 17 touchdowns) and receiver Brandt Goodwin (918 yards and 10 touchdowns on 71 receptions).

12. Pusch Ridge Christian Academy (7-4 this season) -- Quarterback Christian Fetsis (1,304 yards and 13 touchdowns) will be supported by running backs Dakota Haynes (778 yards and 14 TDs) and Mitchell Maas (525-7) plus five of their top six receivers.

7. Winslow (7-5 this season) -- Quarterback Ricardo Villanueva (1,345 yards and 15 touchdowns) will be surrounded by top two running backs -- Mikel Bonner (888 yards and 10 touchdowns) and Damon Avelar (755-8) and a receiving corps that lost only one senior. Middle Linebacker Ahli Foster (12.2 tackles per game) and DB Avelar (7.5) are expected to lead the defense.

14. Safford (5-6 this season) -- Dual threat Manuel Aparicio passed for 982 yards and 8 touchdowns and ran for 1,022 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2016. His top receiver, Cameron Abril (702 yards and 6 touchdowns) also returns.

Then there are the perennial contenders who somehow put together good teams regardless of how many graduated: Show Low, Snowflake, Yuma Catholic, Northwest Christian. Anyone want to suggest who might be stars next year?

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