Over the past two weeks, we’ve been taking a position-by-position look at some of the top players in Arizona high school football. Our ninth list focuses on the kickers, punters and long snappers.
There are hundreds of standout football players in Arizona and these lists are not intended to be comprehensive. Let us know in the comments section which other specialists are worthy of fans’ attention in 2020.
Crew Peterman photo by Shannon Liebrock
K/P Adrian Alvarado, sr., Walden Grove
Alvarado received honorable mention all-Gila 4A last year, when he played behind Nathan Alvarenga but showed off his strong leg on kickoffs. The Red Wolves didn’t kick off their 2020 season until Oct. 30 because of COVID-19 restrictions, but in three games, Alvarado is 20 for 20 on PATs and averaging 56.2 yards on his kickoffs with four touchbacks. He has offers from 11 Division III and NAIA colleges.
LS Benjamin Lisk, sr., Paradise Valley
Lisk, a second-team all-Northeast Valley 5A selection last season, went to the Kohl’s Showcase in Arizona over the summer and recorded the seventh-highest overall score for the Class of 2021. He moved up to 12th on the rating service’s long snapper prospect rankings and earned a scholarship offer from Toledo of the Mid-American Conference.
K/P Brandon Woodland, sr., Greenway
Woodland earned all-Skyline 4A honors as a punter (first team) and placekicker (second team) as a junior, and this season he has not missed a kick for the Demons, going 21 for 21 on PATs and making all four of his field goal tries with a long of 34 yards.
Brandon Woodland / Sylvia Aguayo
K/P Camden Weeg, sr., Agua Fria
Weeg not only is one of 5A’s top tacklers as an inside linebacker, he also handles all of the Owls’ kicking duties. He earned first-team all-Desert Valley 5A honors as a punter last year. This season, he’s averaging 32.6 yards per punt (with a long of 50), put more than half of his 22 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks and gone 16 for 18 on PATs.
K Carston Kieffer, soph., Corona del Sol
The first-year kicker has helped the Aztecs start 7-0 for the first time in the past 12 years, making all 38 of his PATs and 3 of 7 field goal attempts. His 47 points rank third in the state among kickers.
P Clement Petit, sr., Scottsdale Prep
Petit was an honorable mention 2A all-conference and first-team all-Salt Region selection at punter last season, when he averaged 41.3 yards per punt.
K/P Crew Peterman, sr., Chandler
If one were to attend Wolves practice, it would be hard to pick out Peterman from the crowd. Unlike many kickers, the second-team all-Premier 6A selection takes part in most of the workouts with the position players. “He’s a meat-and-potatoes type of kid,” coach Rick Garretson said of Peterman, who is 38 for 40 on PATs and 2 of 2 on field goals this fall. “He’s well-respected by his teammates. He works out with most of the team and holds his own.”
Dominic Zvada / Valley Christian High School
LS David Bird, soph., Sandra Day O’Connor
Bird’s older brother, Steve, played for the Eagles and long-snapped at Eastern Michigan, and David is well on his way to following his brother’s footsteps. He is the No. 1 long-snapping recruit in the nation according to Kohl’s rating service, which wrote that Bird “has started to separate himself out in the 2023 class.”
K/P Derek Bass, sr., Basha
Bass received all-Premier 6A honorable mention as a placekicker last fall, and he’s had a solid senior season for the Central Region champions, making 30 of 32 PATs and 6 of 8 field goals (with a long of 47) and putting 26 of 44 kickoffs into the end zone. He’s added punting duties this season, averaging 33.8 yards per punt, and received offers from several Division III and NAIA schools.
K Dominic Zvada, jr., Valley Christian
Zvada dreams of kicking for Notre Dame, and after kicking a 3A-record 55-yard field goal in a Week 6 victory over Payson, he might someday realize that dream. In the meantime, the first-year kicker (he ran cross country for the Trojans before this season) is 25 of 30 on PATs, has made two field goals and has put 20 of 44 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.
K/P Easton Black, jr., Sunrise Mountain
Black was a second-team all-Northwest 5A selection last fall for the Mustangs. He’s the No. 1-rated kicking prospect in Arizona for the Class of 2022 and No. 8 nationally by Chris Sailer Kicking. He averages nearly 39 yards per punt, pinning 9 of his 20 punts inside the 20, while going 23 for 24 on PATs and making 7 of 11 field goals.
Easton Black / Sunrise Mountain High School
P Grady Gross, jr., Horizon
Gross was a second-team all-Northeast Valley 5A selection at placekicker last year as he transitioned from being a soccer player, but he missed five weeks this fall to rest his leg after working it too hard in the offseason. With sophomore Brody Duff taking over kicking duties, Gross has focused on punting, leading the state at 50.9 yards per punt and booming a 70-yarder in last week’s loss to Saguaro.
LS Grant Sands, sr., Perry
Sands follows in a long line of top long snappers who have come through Perry, starting with Rey Higuera, then Adam Higuera (who took over for Rey at Tulsa and is now a senior with the Golden Hurricane) and Travis Drosos (now at Colorado). Sands is the No. 7 long-snapping prospect in the nation (No. 3 in Arizona) according to Kohl’s and was selected to the now-canceled Under Armour All-America Game. “I can’t wait to see where he ends up,” said Pumas coach Preston Jones.
LS Hank Pepper, sr., Chandler
Pepper committed to San Diego State over the summer as both a linebacker and long snapper, but chances are he’ll see the field first in the latter role. He is the No. 2 national prospect at the position according to Kohl’s and was a second-team all-Premier 6A selection behind Perry’s Travis Drosos (Colorado) last fall, following in the footsteps of older brother Sam Pepper, who started for four years at Chandler. “Hank has got that launch and can put the ball on a tee,” Wolves coach Rick Garretson said.
K/P Ilya Uyaydov, sr., Gilbert
Gilbert assistant coach Jeremy Bridges eyed Uyaydov one day kicking a soccer ball at practice and asked if he’d ever kicked a football. He replied no, and Bridges took him over to the football field and had him try out. “His technique was not very good, but when he struck the ball, you just knew he had skills,” said Tigers coach Derek Zellner. “Last year, he was greener than a shamrock, but he worked diligently in the offseason, and now every kickoff is almost out the back of the end zone.”
Indeed, his work with former Arizona State kicker Steve Rausch (a former Dobson teammate of Zellner’s) has paid off — he was a first-team all-San Tan 5A punter and second-team kicker as a junior, and this year, he is averaging 41.6 yards per punt (long of 67) while hitting all 16 of his PATs, going 5 of 10 on field goals and putting 22 of 31 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.
K/P Jace Feely, sr., Gilbert Christian
Feely is not your typical placekicker. The son of former NFL kicker Jay Feely also starts at middle linebacker for the Knights, ranking among 3A leaders with 50 tackles, four sacks and four forced fumbles, but his future lies with kicking. A second-team 3A all-conference kicker last fall who has an offer from Rice, he has displayed a strong leg this season, putting 18 of 31 kickoffs into the end zone. He is 21 for 22 on PATs and 2 for 2 on field goals. “Jace is such a physical player,” coach Danny Norris said. “It seems that every week, he is making a big play for us.”
Jace Feely / Gilbert Christian Schools
P Jackson Ray, sr., Highland
Ray, a second-team 6A all-conference punter and Colorado State commit, leads the conference with a 44.5-yard average this season, putting half of his 14 punts inside the 20. He also has made 19 of 22 PATs for the Hawks.
P Jacob Irick, sr., Marcos de Niza
Irick starts at linebacker for the Padres and plays running back, but his future is as a punter (Gila River JC has looked at him), where he averaged almost 39 yards per punt as a junior and 33.9 yards this fall. “Jacob is an outstanding leader,” coach Anthony Figueroa said. “He delivers in the classroom, weight room, and on the field.”
LS John Ferlmann, sr., Boulder Creek
Ferlmann transferred to Boulder Creek from Gregori High in Modesto, Calif., in June, and besides being a top defensive lineman, he also is ranked No. 7 in the country by Rubio Long Snapping and is a five-star prospect. He has committed to Arizona State as a preferred walk-on as a long snapper.
K/P Johnny Delgado, jr., River Valley
Delgado was a second-team all-West 3A selection at placekicker last fall. He’s added punting duties after the graduation of all-region first-teamer Brenan Gladeau. Delgado has made 29 of 30 PATs and 4 of 6 field goals through seven games and averaged 32.5 yards per punt.
P Jordan Forbes, sr., Desert Ridge
What a difference a year has made for Forbes, who averaged 30.7 yards per punt as a Jaguars junior. He worked over the summer with Kohl’s and moved up the rankings — by the end of the summer, he was Kohl’s No. 1-ranked punter in the state (No. 64 nationally). This fall, his 44.2-yard average per punt ranks second in 6A, and he picked up his first offer from Concordia College in Minnesota.
K/P Josh Grant, sr., Bradshaw Mountain
Grant last season earned first-team all-Grand Canyon 4A honors as both an offensive flex player (he’s thrown for 1,171 yards and run for 471 at quarterback) and a placekicker. This year, he’s made 20 of 23 PATs and 4 of 5 field goals, with a long of 43, while putting 23 of his 34 kickoffs in the end zone. He’s also a top punter, averaging 42 yards per punt with a long of 65 yards.
P Keyon Taylor, jr., Buena
Taylor was a first-team all-Southern 5A selection last season. He also plays wide receiver and free safety and returns kickoffs for the Colts. This year, before Buena’s season ended because of COVID-19 restrictions, he averaged 46.4 yards per punt with a long of 53 yards.
K Konner Olson, soph., Higley
Olson took over for graduated first-team all-San Tan 5A kicker Matt Godinez, who’s now playing soccer at Arizona Christian. The Knights haven’t missed a beat, with Olson converting on 17 of 18 PATs and leading 6A with seven field goals (in nine attempts) with a long of 37 yards.
Konner Olson / Paul Etnire
LS Lance St. Louis, jr., Williams Field
St. Louis, ranked No. 4 nationally among long snappers in the Class of 2022 by Kohl’s, took over long-snapping duties for the Black Hawks this season.
K/P Marcus Lye, jr., Brophy Prep
Lye was a first-team all-Premier 6A selection last fall and ranks as the state’s No. 2 kicking prospect in the Class of 2022 by National Kicking Rankings. This season, he ranks among the conference leaders in punting — his 36.9-yard average is seventh, and his long is 56 yards. He’s 5 for 5 on PATs and has made three field goals, including kicks from 45 and 47 yards.
K/P McKaden Chatwin, sr., ALA-Queen Creek
Chatwin earned second-team all-Central 3A honors last year for the Patriots in helping them win the state championship. This season, with their move to 4A, Chatwin has led the state in scoring by kickers, going 43 of 45 on PATs and 6 of 7 on field goals, with a long of 41 yards. He also handles kickoff duties and, after the graduation of first-team all-conference punter Ethan Coplen, added punting duties (33.1-yard average, long of 50 yards).
K/P Michael Ortiz, jr., Saguaro
Ortiz had big shoes to fill with the Sabercats, taking over for Parker Lewis, a first-team 4A all-conference selection at placekicker and punter last fall who now kicks at USC. Ortiz has been a more-than-adequate replacement, averaging almost 41 yards per punt and making 22 of 24 PATs.
LS Ryan Wintermeyer, sr., Cactus Shadows
Wintermeyer was a first-team 5A all-conference selection as a long snapper last season for the Falcons. He ranks No. 3 in the nation and No. 2 in Arizona among long-snapping prospects and has received an offer from Akron University. He earned an invitation to the since-canceled Under Armour All-America Game.
Ryan Wintermeyer / Gina DeCarlo Brown
K/P Sam Crockett, jr., Snowflake
Crockett earned second-team all-East 3A honors at placekicker and punter last fall for the Lobos. This season, he has made a conference-high seven field goals in 11 attempts, twice hitting from 42 yards, and is 18 for 21 on PATs. He also ranks among conference leaders with a 33.9-yard average on punts.
P Shane Davenport, sr., Fountain Hills
A second-team 3A all-conference selection at punter last year for the Falcons, Davenport ranks sixth in the conference this fall with a 36.2-yard average.
P Spencer Hochstein, sr., Sunnyslope
Hochstein took over for second-team 5A all-conference punter Niko Haen this year and ranks third in 5A, averaging 46.3 yards per punt with a long of 51 yards.
P Tad Lynch, jr., Coolidge
Lynch, who played midfield for the Bears soccer team last winter, took over punting duties from CJ Valencia this fall. He leads 3A with a 45.1-yard average, including a long of 67 yards.
K/P Tanner Bobic, jr., Deer Valley
Bobic earned first-team all-West Valley 4A honors as a sophomore for the Skyhawks. This season, he has converted 30 of 31 PATs and made all four of his field goal attempts (long of 41 yards) to rank second among conference kickers in points (42). He’s averaging 29.1 yards per punt.
Tanner Bobic / Deer Valley High School