West Valley Preps
The 2018 football season is not exactly over at Willow Canyon.
While the Wildcats finished play Oct. 26, their field will be the site of a 5A semifinal Nov. 16, when #5 Gilbert Higley (9-3) takes on #1 Centennial (12-0).
However, forgive Coach Justin Stangler, his staff and returning players if they’re now looking forward to 2019 a bit more intensely. Darvon Hubbard, a running back skilled enough to commit to Ohio State University before his junior season, just moved into Surprise and will play for the Wildcats next season.
“Darvon started classes on Thursday. I was able to talk to him about our team and what he has going on,” Stangler stated in a Twitter interview Saturday. “We will sit down and watch film over the next few weeks. He met a lot of our players and our juniors welcomed him in as a part of the team.”
Hubbard is an Akron, Ohio native who moved to Arizona and played the last two years for Chaparral High School in Scottsdale. Despite missing a couple games with injuries, he ran for 824 yards and nine touchdowns on 124 carries for the Firebirds this season.
Until recently, Chaparral was a destination school for West Valley players – as players from Cesar Chavez Desert Edge, Kellis, Moon Valley and Sunrise Mountain went to Scottsdale late in their careers.
Now this 6-0, 205-pound tailback with a four-star rating by several recruiting services is headed to Surprise. He’ll join a 5A program that finished 4-6 in Stangler’s first year as head coach.
Stangler said his top returning players for 2019 will be defensive back/return man Jonathan HagEstad, quarterback Josh Ormond, linebacker Josiah Meek, wide receiver Eli Mathis, defensive back Brendan Kinnee, slotback James Wilson and offensive lineman Kindric Picklesimer.
All will be seniors next year.
The Wildcats’ fairly new staff already has plenty of experience working transfers into the mix. Connor Ball and Kelly Garcia were the Wildcats’ most prominent seniors that transferred in last year.
“We had in state and out of state transfers this last season and I think the best thing to do is make them feel like a part of the team right away. Our kids are very accepting to everyone which makes transitions easy if you’re new to a school,” Stangler stated.