Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017 | 2 a.m.
In many ways, Silverado football coach Andy Ostolaza arrives back to the Sunrise Southeast with the division identical to how it looked in his first eight-year run with the Skyhawks.
All six schools currently in the league were part of the classic group that annually battled for Henderson bragging rights, and all but one opposing team has the same coach as when Ostolaza left three years ago. The Southeast also shapes up as competitive as ever.
“Up and down, the Southeast is probably the toughest division,” Ostolaza said. “There’s no easy week in the Southeast.”
In other ways, the division hardly resembles its initial heyday. Once known for bruising ground games, the Southeast might spend this season as the pass happiest league in town.
Every team has a capable quarterback, and won’t hesitate to air it out. Ostolaza’s new-look Skyhawks, therefore, will fit right in behind the arm of junior quarterback Kana Hoapili.
“We’re going to be a little different than I was from the first time around, especially on offense,” Ostolaza said. “We’re going to open it up a lot more.”
Every team in the Southeast will carry a similar approach, so settle in for some long game nights when the Henderson rivals square off. And the bad news for them all is that seven-time defending Southeast champion Liberty figures to have most potent passing game.
Four-year starting quarterback Kenyon Oblad, who’s racked up offers from the likes of BYU and Western Kentucky, looks to build on a career that’s already seen him total 9,129 passing yards and 87 touchdowns. And the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Oblad says he’s never felt as comfortable as he does coming into this season.
“The game slows down after a couple years, and it just helps the offense runs smoothly,” he said. “Everyone knows what they’re doing, so we just execute.”
The last team currently in the Southeast to defeat Liberty was Basic in 2009, and the Wolves would likely be viewed as having the best chance going forward. But they may slightly break from the trend of the other five teams in the division.
After having arguably the most up-tempo spread offense in town for the last couple years, Basic plans to dial it back at least a degree at the beginning of the season. The Wolves have a talented young quarterback in Paul Myro, but would prefer to ease the sophomore in instead of putting too much on him too early.
“Our offense is pretty versatile so we can do a lot of different things depending on what we have,” Basic coach Jeff Cahill said. “Last year, we had big wide receivers and the quarterback with the big arm so we threw the ball a lot. This year, we have a good stable of running backs so we’ll be running the ball a little more than we have.”
Basic has won two straight against Henderson Bowl rival Green Valley, and two of the last three against Battle for Boulder Highway foe Foothill. Both the Gators and the Falcons have labeled their games against the Wolves — on Oct. 13 and Oct. 20, respectively — for revenge.
And they both look to have a squad capable of turning the tables on their archrival. After missing all of last season with an injury, Green Valley senior quarterback A.J. Barilla is out to make up for lost time.
His teammates swear he’s among the best quarterbacks in the city, even though no one else has been able to see it so far on the varsity level aside from limited duty during his sophomore year.
“I’ve been playing with these guys in our senior class since 6th, 7th, 8th grade so it’s really a brotherhood between us,” Barilla said. “To hear something like that from them means a lot.”
Foothill is inexperienced on defense, but returns the bulk of an offense that led it to a first-round playoff win last year. Even Coronado, which has won only one league game in the last two years, feels confident it will be able to put points up.
Senior quarterback Carlos Perez is drawing rave reviews, with coach Bill Froman so impressed that he wondered out loud whether Perez's opportunity is overdue.
“He can run, and he’s tough,” Froman said of Perez. “He doesn’t look like a quarterback, and probably that’s what slowed me down last year in making a switch.”
Nothing is slowing down the Southeast, which looks to be high-flying in a number of ways.
“I think we have the best league in town from top to bottom,” Foothill coach Marty Redmond. “I think any of the teams can make the playoffs year in and year out. I think you look at our records against other leagues in town, our league comes out on top.”
Last year’s finish : Liberty, Basic, Silverado, Foothill, Green Valley, Coronado
Projected 2017 finish : Liberty, Basic, Green Valley, Foothill, Silverado, Coronado
Basic: Wide receiver/safety Jordan Gallegos, wide receiver/linebacker Zach Grismanauskas, offensive and defensive lineman Derek Carney
Coronado: Linebacker Zac Holbert, offensive lineman William Froman, quarterback Carlos Perez
Foothill: Linebacker/tight end Jared Ables, running back/linebacker Issac Oliva, wide receiver/defensive back Jordan Blakely
Green Valley: Wide receiver Christian Mayberry, wide receiver Braxton Harms and offensive lineman Eric Brown
Liberty: Quarterback Kenyon Oblad, safety Allan Mwata, defensive lineman Crishaun Lappin
Silverado: Wide receiver/defensive back Taison Etienne, running back/linebacker Joshua Lathers, offensive/defensive lineman Liandre Schwallie
Offensive MVP: Liberty’s Oblad
Defensive MVP: Liberty’s Lappin
Rising Star (best freshman or sophomore): Basic quarterback Paul Myro
Coach of the Year: Basic’s Cahill
Game of the Year: Basic 41, Green Valley 35 in Henderson Bowl
Newcomer of the Year: Green Valley’s Barrilla (previously injured)