2016 RECORD: 9-2 (4A first round)
REGION: 4A Black Canyon
COACH: John Ganados (first year)
KEY RETURNEES: Kobe Ganados, Jr., QB; Marcus Banda, Sr., WR/LB; Gabriel Leasau, Sr. OL/DL; Elston Cadle, Sr., OT/LB; Raymond Cruz, Sr., DE/RB; Brody Williams, Jr., S/WR.
NEWCOMERS TO WATCH: Chris Crocker, Sr., RB; Juan Andrade, Sr., DE (transfer-Phoenix Arcadia).
Home games in caps
Aug. 18 YOUNGKER
Aug. 25 GILA RIDGE
Sept. 1 at Lee Williams
Sept. 8 CASA GRANDE
Sept. 22 PEORIA
Sept. 29 at Combs
Oct. 6 at Apache Junction
Oct. 13 at Washington
Oct. 20 CORTEZ
Oct. 27 at Coronado
For most of the coaching staff, Dysart High School’s 9-2 season in 2016 was the end of the journey.
Players returning for 2017, however, are determined to make sure it was just the beginning of new expectations at the El Mirage school.
“We’re not going to fall down. That’s one thing we will not tolerate this year,” junior cornerback Hassan Razzouki said. “We’re only going uphill.”
Coach and Dysart alumn John Ganados is in his second year with the program and first as head coach. He and his youngest son, Kobe, arrived at Dysart from Phoenix Thunderbird last year, and John Ganados served as a receivers coach under Manuel Alcantar.
Alcantar and most of his staff left last winter to lead the program at Laveen Cesar Chavez. But after he was hired in February, Ganados was able to keep two key assistants in the fold — offensive line coach Ric Lopez and defensive line coach Chris Thomas.
“(Coach Lopez) was on the fence about either going over there or staying here and Coach Thomas convinced him to stay at Dysart,” Ganados said. “Coach Thomas brings a lot. He loves this school. The energy that both of them bring is like the perfect combo.”
He said both line coaches get excellent effort from their players because of the relationships they have built. During offseason workouts, the Demons used their lines’ bonds as an example.
In another stroke of good fortune, the lines on both sides of the ball are Dysart’s most experienced position groups. Three starting offensive linemen — seniors Elston Cadle and Gabriel Leasau, and junior David Leasau — return.
Juniors Kelly Garcia and William Rawlins likely to step in at the open spots. They will form a front wall that is light, but fast and coordinated.
“We already know what each of us are doing on each play. We all know how to adjust to each other,” David Leasau said. “The two guys stepping up, we’ve already played with them. They were our backups last year and we’re really good friends with them.”
Rawlins and Garcia also are productive defensive linemen. But no returning Demon can match the production of 190-pound senior end, Raymond Cruz, who racked up 80 total tackles and 9½ sacks.
In the middle, Dysart makes up for its smaller flanks with 365-pound sophomore Israel Nolasco. More help should arrive after the first five games when senior defensive end Juan Andrade is eligible after transferring from Phoenix Arcadia.
“Most kids come in and they say what position they played. You try to find them and they’re nowhere to be found. We found him and we were like, ‘Wow. How did they let him leave Arcadia,’” Ganados said. ‘We knew the situation so we gave him things to do so he feels special. He does get to participate in the scrimmage. He’s a vocal leader as well. If he would have been here last year, he probably would be a captain.”
The newfound depth allows Ganados to move the 220-pound Cadle to outside linebacker. He will team with senior Marcus Banda, the top returning tackler other than Cruz.
Though he is not the most experienced returnee, Rauzzouki has blossomed into one of the vocal leaders of the secondary. Fellow junior Brody Williams is the most experienced defensive back and Ganados thinks senior Jordan Lopez will break out with opportunity.
New defensive coordinator Dave Socie is a veteran of the staffs at Northwest Christian and Phoenix St. Mary’s and brings a more aggressive approach to the program.
For the most part, the Demon offense will remain the same under new coordinator Dustin Phillips, who also arrived from Thunderbird. The new things are the skill position players.
Bell cows Pacey Prettyman (1,628 yards) and Chris Medcalf (1,149 yards) graduated. Any combination of four tailbacks could end up carrying the ball.
“We have about four or five running backs that can do the job for us. Last year we had two running backs rushing for 1,000 yards, but this year we have more players that can do some things,” Razzouki said
First up should be senior Chris Crocker, who arrived last year but sat out the season. Crocker played in the lower levels for Centennial and Deer Valley. Cruz also will have a bigger workload and Banda could slot in at tailback or receiver.
Anthony Aguilar (or Aguirre) is a promising sophomore receiver and junior Adam Campbell has improved. Lopez and Williams factor into the passing game too.
Junior quarterback Kobe Ganados, the coach’s son, is the most experienced skill guy. His father said Kobe is muh more comfortable with both the offense and his role as its leader.
Mix it together and the Demons are clear favorites to repeat as Black Canyon Region champions. Following two straight playoff appearances, Dysart can no longer play the underdog role.
“I hate reading the stuff I’m reading because everybody has us favored. Put us to finish last. But it’s a challenge,” Ganados said. “I tell them there’s nothing on their resume.”
The new coach said signs are good for the short term and the long term. Most of the returning varsity players bought in to the new staff.
He also said the school’s environment is very different than in his day or Dysart’s lean years in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
More than 100 kids have been medically cleared and out for football at the high school — the biggest number in a long time. Earlier this month the school ran out of equipment.
With more players showing interest, this group of freshmen and sophomores will have more time to develop than their predecessors.
“The community is really, really supportive. We’ve had so much love from the community,” Ganados said. “It’s going to be exciting to see those stands.”