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Entering year two of the Big Park Community School-West Sedona School football team, Head Coach Scott Gilbert is very optimistic about his team’s chances this season.

“We have a few new kids but they actually have more experience then we had last season,” Gilbert said while on the practice field Wednesday, Aug. 26.

The pairing of Big Park and West Sedona to form one tackle football team at the middle school level was largely successful last season.

jr-high-football-8-28-(3)After receiving the go-ahead from the Sedona Oak Creek School District Governing Board in late spring 2008, Gilbert along with several volunteers put together a team of players from both schools.

Setting up practice times in Sedona, Big Park players were bussed to practice, and before they knew it, a football team had formed.

“Our first year was interesting. There was a lot of things we had to do to get these kids on the field, but in the end it was worth it,” Gilbert said.

The 2008 campaign was not successful in victories as the team went 0-7-1 on the season, but Gilbert said the players stuck it out the whole year and they learned a few things.

This season as players strap on the helmets, tie their cleats and wipe the sweat from their brows, the Scorpions are ready for season two.

Gone are players like Keenan Crans, Rawlin Carpenter, Ryan Ramirez and Zane Saxman, all of which are playing for Rob Lezcano and the Sedona Red Rock High football team.

Replacing those players this season are top returners in eighth-grade linebacker Mason Aronson, eighth-grade tailback Richard Covert and eighth-grade wide receiver Josh Elfman.

All three are expected to start this season with Covert getting the majority of the carries this season.

Other top returners include eighth-grade offensive lineman Bryce Heckrodt-Hallenbeck, eighth-grade defensive lineman Galen Leo, seventh-grade defensive lineman Luis Robles and eighth-grade offensive lineman Gregory Swartz.

The seven returners will carry the 20-man roster this season Gilbert said, but there are a few newcomers who have caught the eye of the coaching staff in the early going.

Leading the way is eighth-grade quarterback Sam Priano who is expected to start for the Scorpions this season under center.

Seventh-graders Zeke Saxman and Kevin Schweiss along with Max Hauserman are entering their fourth year of tackle football, having come up through the Red Rock Youth Football system.

Eighth-grade tight end Freddie Rowley also has one year of experience in RRYF. Rowley will play linebacker for the Scorpions this season as well.

Other top newcomers include seventh-grade cornerback Alex Burke, eighth-grade receiver Alec Chapman, eighth-grade tailback Donovan Cunningham and eighth-grade offensive lineman Christian Rivas.

The Scorpions also have one sixth-grader brave enough to join the team in defensive lineman Michael Estrada.

“I think we have a few good receivers and a quarterback in Sam [Priano] who can get it to them. We are more of a run-based team but that shouldn’t hinder us from throwing it around now and again,” Gilbert said with a smile.

The Scorpions began their season with a loss to Bradshaw Mountain Middle School by the final score of 19-9.

Covert led the team with 85 yards on the ground while Heckrodt-Hallenberg had nine tackles on defense.

“Last season it took us until the last game of the year to score. This year, we scored right away so that in itself is improvement,” Gilbert said.

The boys will travel to Chino Valley and play Heritage Middle School on Saturday, Aug. 29.

Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m.

Catch the Scorpions football team at home Tuesday, Sept. 8, when they play host to Mile High Middle School at SRRHS.

Kickoff for that contest is set for 2:30 p.m.

Brian Bergner Jr. can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 131, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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