Preview: Badger football eyes return to state playoffs in 2019
PRESCOTT — The Prescott football team returns this fall looking to not only duplicate, but improve upon, its success in 2018.
For sixth-year head coach Cody Collett, however, he’ll have to do it without the 18 seniors who graduated last spring, including Northern Arizona University quarterback recruit Austin Clark and the state’s all-time record holder for in tackles in a season, safety Colton Amos.
Add in Hunter Kronberg, Garrett Fenderson, and Nicholas Robishaw’s absence on defense and needing to replace kicker Bryce Peters, wideout Jovanni Ruiz and lineman Max Flores on offense, and Collett has his hands full.
Collett, who took over for Michael Gilpin after he resigned three games into the football season, is more than optimistic for the 2019 version of the Badgers.
“It’s definitely tough to replace those kids, all of them were great kids, great players, great leaders. But we do feel like we have some pretty significant talent returning … who have played a lot of varsity football,” Collett said Wednesday before practice.
The Badgers finished 7-4 (4-1 Grand Canyon) overall a season ago, qualifying for the 4A state playoffs as a No. 11 seed, losing to No. 6-ranked Greenway 40-29 in the first round.
It was the first time Prescott had made the state playoffs since 2012, Collett’s first year on the job. He left after the 2015 campaign, but returned in 2017 as a tight ends coach before taking over as head coach three games into 2018.
Dellin Boyd returns for his senior campaign this fall and will replace Clark under center as the Badgers’ starting quarterback.
Boyd, who was a backup quarterback in 2018, will also see plenty of playing time at safety this season. He was a starting defensive back last season.
“I didn’t get a lot of reps at quarterback last year, just filled in when I needed to. … This offseason, I got a lot of reps, so it should be good,” Boyd said.
When asked how he’s going to manage a starting role at quarterback, and play safety on defense, Boyd was confident he’ll be successful.
“It’s definitely hard. I’ve always been a defensive guy, I love it. I played safety the last two years. The defense needs me back there I guess, helping them out calling plays, making sure people are in the right spots,” Boyd said, admitting he won’t see every play defensively, and added the coaching staff plans to use him in only certain situations.
“Dellin is a great leader. He understands the offense and what we want. He’s done a good job managing situations. He brings an element with his feet as well that can make him especially dangerous,” Collett said.
Senior Aaron Greene, who will likely have a major role at defensive end and tight end this season, said Wednesday it just recently dawned on him that this fall will be his last in high school football.
“It really hit me, going into it, that this is my last chance to prove what we have here as a team, and what the rest of my teammates can do,” Greene said.
As for that take-over-the-game aggressiveness Badger fans saw on defensive last year, the NAU and South Dakota State recruit plans to play even harder.
“I’m hoping to double, triple that this year. I think it’s important for me to go out and help my teammates the best I can,” Greene said. “If I can disrupt quarterback during his pass sets, then he’ll throw worse balls for us and our defensive backs can get picks, and return some picks this year.”
Collett said he’s hoping for a big year out of his senior defensive star.
“We want to let him play his game, we try to put him in the best situations possible and let him play his game,” Collett said.
As for that elusive Grand Canyon region title, Greene wasn’t shy in making his predictions.
“This year … we don’t want to lose any more, we’re coming for that region title,” Greene said. “We plan on winning this region and making it to the playoffs again.”
Other top returners include running back Sylas Espitia, wide receiver Jacob Police, defensive end Trey Koehler and defensive lineman Nathan Goligoski.
With the new playoff format taking place this season, which will see the top eight schools selected from 6A through 4A conferences to form a separate playoff, Collett credited the Arizona Interscholastic Association on having the foresight to accomplish such a task.
“I think it was an outstanding idea, I give the AIA a lot of credit for having some vision and not just going by the status quo. I think if you can tell who the 4A state champion is going to be this time of year, it’s probably not a good thing for high school athletics,” Collett said.
And what do the Badgers have to do to return to the state playoffs this season? Collett has the answer:
“The two biggest factors in football games is turnovers and explosive plays,” Collett said. “If we can have more explosive plays, limit turnovers and win the turnover battle, we’ll have an opportunity to win every contest and that’s all you can ask.”
Prescott (0-0, 0-0 Grand Canyon) kicks off the 2019 campaign Friday, Aug. 23, in a road game at Desert Edge. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.
Brian M. Bergner Jr. is news/sports editor for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and SoundCloud at @TheEditorDesk. Email him at email@example.com, or call 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.
2019 Prescott Football
Region: Grand Canyon
2018 Record: 7-4 (5-1 Grand Canyon)
2018 Playoffs: 0-1; Lost 40-29 to Greenway in first round 4A state playoffs.
Coach: Cody Collett (6th season)
2019 Players to Watch: Sr. RB Silas Espitia; Sr. DB-WR Jacob Police; Sr. DE Aaron Greene; Sr. LB-RB Sam Giordan; Sr. FS-QB Dellinger Boyd; Sr. DT-DE Nathan Goligoski;
Date Opponent Time
8/23 at Desert Edge 7 p.m.
8/30 Canyon Del Oro# 7 p.m.
9/6 Moon Valley# 7 p.m.
9/13 at Deer Valley 7 p.m.
9/20 Flagstaff*# 7 p.m.
9/27 Bye Week N/A
10/4 at Coconino* 7 p.m.
10/11 Bradshaw Mountain* 7 p.m.
10/18 Mohave* 7 p.m.
10/25 at Lee Williams* 7 p.m.
11/1 at Mingus* 7 p.m.
11/8 State: 1st Round TBA
11/15 State: Quarterfinals TBA
11/22 State: Semifinals TBA
11/29 State: Championship TBA
- Grand Canyon Region Game