2017 Preps football preview: Glendale Prep

GLENDALE PREP GRIFFINS

2016 RECORD: 4-5 (Did not qualify for playoffs)

REGION: 2A Metro East

COACH: Jamie Self (6th year)

OFFENSE: Double wing

DEFENSE: 4-3

KEY RETURNEES: Luke Martinez, Sr., QB/S; Noah Roundy, Sr., RB/LB; Shane Kennedy, Sr. RB/LB; Gino Vargas, Sr., WR/FS; Sebastian Cedeno, Soph., C/LB

NEWCOMER TO WATCH: Ian Kramer Jr., G/LB

2017 SCHEDULE

Home games in caps

Aug. 18     at Scottsdale Christian

Aug. 25    at Joy Christian

Sept. 1      at Tonopah Valley

Sept. 8     TEMPE PREP*

Sept. 15    at Chandler Prep

Sept. 22   at Arizona College Prep

Sept. 29   SCOTTSDALE PREP*

Oct. 6        at Antelope

Oct. 20     VERITAS PREP*

Oct. 27      SAN TAN FOOTHILLS#

* Three home games will be played at Cortez High School

* Final home game will be played at Northwest Christian School

Glendale Prep’s Noah Roundy (#21) performs footwork drills during practice Aug. 8, 2017 at Glendale Preparatory Academy in Glendale. [Jacob Stanek/West Valley Preps]
Richard Smith
West Valley Preps

In their second year of 11-man football, the Glendale Prep Griffins players and coaches believe they are more prepared for the level of competition and more comfortable playing together.

But like in 2016, Glendale Prep will not have more. In fact, the Griffins’ 17-man roster is considerably smaller than last year’s — and four of those 17 are freshmen.

On that small roster, however, is an experienced core of players who improved as last year’s 4-5 season went on.

“With a small group of guys when we all dedicated (ourselves) we were able to compete and not just survive throughout the season. We just kept getting better, to where we just missed playoffs by a game and we were angry about it,” senior quarterback/safety Luke Martinez said.

Glendale Prep is again led by Coach Jamie Self, who built the program into a regular 8-man playoff squad.

And once again, small numbers of players will change how the season is attacked.

“I think we’ve got skill guys that can compete with anyone,” senior tailback/linebacker Noah Roundy said. “And the deceptiveness of our offense … our coaches put us in really good positions to get the ball where it needs to be and to trick the defense.”

Many practice drills are fun five-on-five.

Last year, the Griffins didn’t have a scrimmage, Self said, so they didn’t play their first 11-man game until the opening 49-12 loss at Scottsdale Christian. This year’s group of captains remembers early 2016, when the team made a ton of mistakes against Scottsdale Christian.

Four freshmen enter varsity football with wide eyes, and will not start. But with no JV or freshman teams and such a small roster, they will have to contribute.

“The difficulty is contingencies. If one guy gets hurt, you don’t just really plug in your second stringer. All seventeen players have to have a role,” Self said. “We feel good about our base guys. But we have zero depth.”

With that in mind, the Griffins will try to control the clock and keep the two-way players fresh for defense with their variant of the Wing-T offense. The modified double wing offense, takes some things from Self’s roots, coaching on the Avondale Agua Fria staff.

“We want to block guys with great fakes. We want to have similar motion and mesh points that get the ball to different people,” Self said.

The core group, led by captains Martinez, Roundy, senior receiver/cornerback Gino Vargas and senior tailback/linebacker Shane Kennedy, is more familiar with the attack which lands somewhere between a wing-T, double wing and modern read option spread.

“We’re way beyond where we were last year. Last year was pretty rough. We have that same center group, so coming back this season its easier to remember the offense and remember the plays,” Gino Vargas said.

In the back stretch last year, the Griffiths started clicking, winning three straight games to even their record at 4-4. A 21-12 loss to San Tan Foothills in the finale may have cost Glendale Prep a playoff berth.

That left the returning players hungry. They want to improve against the tougher front half of their schedule and try to reverse region losses to Foothills and Chandler Prep.

“Playoffs are the goal. If we do make he playoffs it will only complement the hard work we put in this offseason,” Shane Kennedy said.

Rather than lamenting his small numbers, Self said he is happy to work with the guys he has. He said this year’s squad listens very well, gives effort constantly and has the intelligence to build upon what they have learned.

“They think OK,  we have 17 guys. We have embraced that an opportunity to succeed when other people say you can’t,” Self said.

Glendale Prep’s Luke Martinez (#20) performs defensive pursuit drills during practice Aug. 8, 2017 at Glendale Preparatory Academy in Glendale. [Jacob Stanek/West Valley Preps]
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