Casteel High joins spring football showcase SanTan Sun News

Casteel High joins spring football showcase

May 26th, 2018 | by SanTan Sun News
Casteel High joins spring football showcase
Sport
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By Brian Benesch, Sports Editor

 

The idea was simple: host a joint football practice so college scouts can watch as many local high school players as possible.

The execution was the tricky part.

That’s where Red Mountain Coach Mike Peterson and his staff came in.

Not long ago, Peterson and colleagues gathered in the war room to brainstorm ideas to showcase their athletes. Almost instantly, a joint football practice was proposed.

“We decided that we wanted to have three other schools here. We made three phone calls and those are the guys who are coming. So, are they excited? I think that they are. Again, we only had to make three phone calls,” Peterson laughed.

The three high schools that jumped at the chance to join Peterson’s squad earlier this month were Casteel, Williams Field and Queen Creek.

Red Mountain’s vision was to get as many eyes as possible on some of the Valley’s top football players.

“If we want more coaches to look at our guys, then we’ve got to have more guys,” the coach said. “We brought in more schools, and between the four of us, we’ve got a lot of guys that those college recruiters will be willing to take time out of their days and come to our practice.”

The showcase event seems far from revolutionary, but it’s not exactly commonplace in Arizona. Peterson couldn’t recall a joint practice like this ever taking place in the area.

“I’ve coached here since 1998 and I’ve never seen anything like it. They have them in California and Florida, but never in Arizona,” he said.

While it only took a matter of hours to reel in the other schools, the battle was only beginning for Peterson and his staff to put together the showcase. As football injuries become more and more prevalent, proper precautions have to be taken – even in practice.

“We jumped through some hoops with the AIA and the college compliance offices to make sure we were good,” he said. “Once it was a sanctioned event by the AIA, then the compliance offices were more than happy to allow their coaches to come.”

Peterson and company were eventually given the go-ahead with one important condition: no competing with the other teams.

This meant the field was to be split up in quarters, with each school seemingly conducting its own drills and exercises. Still, the joint practice could be very beneficial for young athletes, especially ones hungry for college scholarships.

Red Mountain’s showcase got prominent football figures from the area talking.

“I think it’s good that you see other programs. It keeps the energy level up when you are going against other schools,” said former Chandler Head Coach Jim Ewan. “It’s great for the colleges because they have limited contact time now. They get more bang for their buck.”

The players from all four schools took the field at about 4:30 p.m. In the beginning, teams were split up by position groups. The offensive and defensive linemen were on the main playing field while skill-position players started on a practice field.

Midway through practice, the groups switched fields, giving the college coaches and scouts chances to view every player in attendance. Overall, at least 20 colleges were represented at the practice, including notable schools like Alabama, Washington, ASU and Arizona.

The event was a hit according to everyone at the high school, so it’s safe to assume these joint practices could become regular occurrences in the future.

As is usually the case with most good ideas, Red Mountain’s event is already becoming a trend. Two more joint practices were held right after the four teams gathered in front of scouts in Mesa.

“Real close after we announced ours, Saguaro organized one and Coach Hinds organized one,” Peterson said. “We reached out to all of them and started to cross-advertise it.”

He added, “Gosh, it’s just so beneficial for the colleges.”

-Contact Brian Benesch at 480-898-5630 or bbenesch@timespublications.com. Follow him on Twitter @AZBenesch  

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