2018 Team Preview: East Valley Red Devils
QB Aiden Estill - He’s been anointed the unofficial franchise QB after winning the job this year as a freshman. Biggest thing for him early will be his decision-making skills. Has a lot of pressure to excel in East Valley’s spread offense.
TE/DB Eddie Juarez - Will be a trustworthy target at tight end. Defensively he’s incredibly versatile. Able to transition quickly from playing up front to being a ball-hawk in the secondary. A candidate to lead the team in both interceptions and tackles.
RB Derek North - High expectations have been placed on him this year. Flat out earned the workhorse role in the off-season, and that work ethic has translated into his team camp showings. Prides himself as a precision runner that can make defenders miss.
OL/DL Michael Toby - High quality junior guard. Has fullback traits with his build and speed, but uses them to the max at guard. Will also be a run-stopper at nose tackle.
OL/LB Carl Randolph - Broke his arm at the beginning of last season, but recovered fast to almost lead the team in tackles. Just like his battery mate Toby, he's another unorthodox guard. His pulling ability is top-notch.
East Valley hasn’t been a traditional powerhouse in the CWAC over the past few seasons, and this group is determined to change that.
The goal for any program is to make a run at a state championship, but head coach Eric Berg understands that they must first make the playoffs before they can take a shot at the big dance.
East Valley's roster is very top heavy, with plenty of talented two-way starters. The question right now is whether or not less experienced players can step up.
Due to many factors, East Valley will be rolling into the season with freshman QB Aiden Estill. On paper this may seem discouraging, but Coach Berg is confident they've found their man to do the job.
The plan is to find out what Estill strength's are early before cutting him loose. The arm strength, size and potential is all there. But with that comes the pressure to live up to those expectations.
The receiving core is making it their duty to make Estill's transition as smooth as possible. Plenty of upper classmen will fill out the rotation.
An excellent 1-2 punch should be Drew Davis and Dillon Morrow.
Davis is a do-it-all target as he is 6'3" and arguably has the best hands on the team. Morrow is a dependable route-runner that is entering his first full-time season
Rounding out the core group is junior Moses Alexander in the slot. He's a well built 5'4" target that will primarily make his living on underneath routes.
It's rare to say the strength of an offense lies in their guards, but East Valley's guard combo is amongst the elite in the CWAC.
Junior's Carl Randolph and Michael Toby are two incredibly strong and agile building blocks for this unit.
They may be the fastest guards in the conference, and both are candidates to be first team all league this year.
Other returning starters include 6'5" 320 pound Royal Jones at left tackle, and high IQ center Karter Kline.
With all the experience back on the line, it should make for an improved run game that was stagnant at times last year. It'll be up to RB Derek North to follow through on that.
On defense, the layout is a 3-5 stack that allows their linebackers to make plays.
One of those featured linebackers is Eddie Juarez. He's the captain of this defense and returns as the team tackles leader. He'll be looking for a repeat performance.
Another tackle machine will be Carl Randolph at middle linebacker. He reads linemen well and makes efficient tackles.
The third inside linebacker spot is being held by Joren Hooper. He's coming off a devastating knee injury last season, but reports have him now at full health and a key player.
A couple two way starters highlight the defensive line in big man Royal Jones and workhorse nose tackle Michael Toby. They'll be accompanied by returning defensive end Kyler Vanicek.
Creating pressure won't be a priority for this defensive line as much as just plugging lanes and allowing their linebackers to play free.
The secondary has a couple good corners to work with in Derek North and Trent Smith. Both are track guys which transitions well at the corner position.
Dillon Morrow will patrol centerfield, and he'll be joined by Eddie Juarez in clear passing situations.
A lot of things need to go right for East Valley to make it out of the CWAC this season. First and foremost, they need to take care of the beatable teams on their schedule. It’s been four years since they’ve beaten Quincy and Othello, that can’t happen if they want to contend. With all the two-starters filling out the depth chart, health will need to be a priority. They’ll probably have to ride a five or six game win streak in order to get over the hump and make the playoffs. Easier said than done.