Mesa Jackrabbits football team won’t back down in quest to reach Arizona’s condensed 6A playoffs

SBLive Arizona will preview every 6A football team in the state leading up to the 2020 high school football season. Here’s our look at the Mesa Jackrabbits of 6A Region 4 (East Valley).

MESA TEAM PAGE | 2020 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

HEAD COACH

Chad DeGrenier, second season (6-4)

2019 AT A GLANCE

  • 6-4 record
  • 3-2 in 6A East Valley (third place)
  • Did not qualify for playoffs

ALL-REGION PLAYERS DEPARTED

First team

  • Jaden Green – Long Snapper
  • Max Montes de Oca – Kicker/Punter

Second team

  • Austin Gonzalez – Offensive Lineman

Honorable mention

  • Alonso Alvarez – Defensive Back
  • Sili Fonoti – Linebacker
  • Dontae Lawson – Linebacker
  • Tayte Nicholson – Wide Receiver
  • JJ Pina – Receiver

2020 SCHEDULE (All games 7 p.m.)

  • Oct. 2 – at Mountain View Mesa
  • Oct. 9 – Gilbert
  • Oct. 16 – at Dobson
  • Oct. 23 – Corona del Sol
  • Oct. 30 – Desert Edge
  • Nov. 6 – Basha
  • Nov. 13 – at Skyline
  • Nov. 20 – at Westwood

PLAYERS TO WATCH

‘Ale’a Ynigues (Senior-RB/LB)

Coach DeGrenier: “‘Ale’a is in great shape. He’s quick and he’s ready to have a big year. I’m very excited about what he’ll do on the football field.”

Andy Nastal (Senior-LB/RB)

Coach DeGrenier: “He’s a returning first-team all-region player.”

2019 stats: 82 tackles, four sacks, one interception

John Mendoza (Senior-QB)

Coach DeGrenier: “John is a returning starter for us. He’s a leader and competitor. He did a great job last year and is having a great camp so far. We’re excited to see what he does on Friday nights.”

2019 stats: Completed 122 of 192 passes for 1,398 yards and 16 touchdowns. Threw three interceptions. Carried 53 times for 110 yards and a score.

Kvon Sutton (Senior-WR) 

Coach DeGrenier: “Kvon is stronger, faster and quicker than he was a year ago. He has a lot more confidence. I’m expecting great things from him as well.”

2019 stats: 24 catches for 456 yards and eight touchdowns. Also returned a kickoff for a score.

Sam Flores (Senior-OL)

Fun fact: Flores was an all-region first-team selection in 2019.

BEST-CASE SCENARIO

A playoff berth. The Jackrabbits return six starters on offense and seven on defense, so they’ll definitely have a chance to reach the postseason. It will be a challenge, though, with only eight teams making the 6A bracket this year.

Mesa has a shot at winning Region 4. DeGrenier wants to see his senior quarterback, Mendoza, run more in 2020. His legs could be an X-factor.

MOST REALISTIC SCENARIO

Somewhere between a .500 record and a first-round 6A playoff exit. The Jackrabbits lack the big-time Division I caliber talent that quite a few 6A teams possess. While the high number of returners is a plus, Mesa will struggle against deeper teams.

If the Jackrabbits do make the playoffs, they’ll most likely face off against a power. The good news is their regular-season schedule isn’t as tough as some other teams’ in 6A.

COACH SAID

“Our goal is to make the playoffs even though it will be a little harder this year due to only eight teams getting in. We also want to have another winning record.

“Defensively, I think we can be pretty good. We have a lot of returning guys. I’m excited to see what we’ll do offensively. If John Mendoza can run the football this year, something he’s definitely capable of, that will give us an added leg up this year.” — Chad DeGrenier

MORE: 2020 ARIZONA HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

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