Desert Ridge football armed with explosive offense in pursuit of Arizona 6A playoff berth

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 Desert Ridge Jaguars of 6A Region 3 (Fiesta).

DESERT RIDGE TEAM PAGE | 2020 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

HEAD COACH

Jeremy Hathcock, 15th season (115-56)

2019 AT A GLANCE

  • 7-5 record
  • 4-1 in 6A Central (first place)
  • No. 8 seed in 6A playoffs
  • Beat No. 9 Cesar Chavez 58-49 in first round
  • Lost to No. 1 Red Mountain 49-35 in second round

ALL-REGION PLAYERS DEPARTED

First team

  • Colton Weier – Defensive Lineman
  • Joquarri Price – Defensive Lineman
  • John Butler – Defensive Utility/Flex Player
  • Kendall Falaniko – Linebacker
  • Koby Hathcock – Long Snapper
  • Aidan Lee – Receiver

Second team

  • Keagan Miller – Defensive Back
  • Brock Edwards – Placekicker
  • Andrew Chino – Receiver

Honorable mention

  • Josiah Crockett – Cornerback/Receiver
  • Jordan Erick – Offensive Lineman
  • Treagen Heslop – Offensive Lineman
  • Karson King – Offensive Lineman
  • Daniel Ramirez – Defensive Lineman

2020 SCHEDULE (All games 7 p.m.)

  • Oct. 2 – Highland
  • Oct. 9 – at Mountain Ridge
  • Oct. 16 – at Higley
  • Oct. 23 – at Red Mountain
  • Oct. 30 – at Basha
  • Nov. 6 – Williams Field
  • Nov. 13 – Casteel
  • Nov. 20 – Queen Creek

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Austin Kolb (Senior-QB)

Coach Hathcock: “Austin threw for 3,000 yards last year. We’re looking for him to run the ball better because we know he can throw it.”

2019 stats: Completed 214 of 347 passes for 2,980 yards and 22 TDs. Threw 11 interceptions. Rushed for 42 yards and a score.

Dante Smith (Senior-OL)

Coach Hathcock: “He’s one of those kids where he just doesn’t get tired,” Hathcock told EastValley.com in May. “This is a kid who ran a 4.81 40 (yard dash) at least three times in the spring. He’s the most explosive guy I’ve had since Nick Allen.”

Offer sheet: Abilene Christian, New Mexico, New Mexico State, North Dakota, Northern Arizona, Northern Colorado

Avantae Barrett (Senior-RB/LB)

“Underrated running back,” per AZCentral.com.

2019 stats: 65 carries for 425 yards and nine TDs. 110 tackles, eight for loss. Also had an interception and a fumble recovery.

Nate Meza (Junior-OL)

Fun fact: Meza also wrestles at Desert Ridge.

Jared Nichols (Senior-DB)

Fun fact: Nichols is ranked as the No. 87 college prospect in the state by AZCentral.com.

2019 stats: 51 tackles and an INT

BEST-CASE SCENARIO

A 6A playoff appearance. Region 3 is very talented. Games against Red Mountain and Queen Creek (two 6A semifinalists in 2019), as well as Highland, Mountain Ridge and Basha (6A playoff teams a year ago), will be challenging. Returning a standout quarterback in Kolb and six other offensive starters will make Desert Ridge a tough team to defend. Outlasting opponents in high-scoring games will be how the Jaguars win this season.

MOST REALISTIC SCENARIO

A 5-3 or 4-4 record. Desert Ridge is a good team, but there are some question marks defensively. Playing such a tough schedule means the Jaguars will be battle-tested, but will that translate to making the playoffs when only eight teams qualify for the 6A bracket? It’s very difficult to replace 14 all-region players.

COACH SAID

“We are long and fast and have great running backs and wide receivers. We return seven starters on offense and four on defense. Our 2020 goal is to repeat as region champions.” — Jeremy Hathcock

MORE: 2020 ARIZONA HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

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