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NW Christian uses spring football to mesh youth, experience

Three times a week for three weeks.

That is Phoenix Northwest Christian’s approach to spring football as coach and athletic director Dave Inness gears his team up for summer passing leagues and the start of the 2014 season.

The Crusaders are young, but they have a good deal of experience. Some of the offensive linemen, juniors this year, have started since they were freshmen. And Inness expects to have nine returning players on offense and seven on defense.

“We have a good turnout, about 40 guys, and we might get a few more from track, (spring) golf and baseball,’’ Inness said.

Northwest Christian completed its second week on Friday (May 9) and will finish up on May 16.

Like other schools in the spring, Northwest Christian isn’t emphasizing conditioning as much as its individual techniques and going over formations, particularly with the running game.

Inness also has been monitoring the diets of some of his offensive linemen. Starting tackles and juniors-to-be Parker Valerius and Ben McGriff have dropped some weight, from close to 300 pounds to 265 for Valerius and from 275 to 260 for McGriff. A few of the other linemen also have dropped some pounds. All of the linemen will be underclassmen except for one senior.

“We hope to be stronger and leaner, more athletic,’’ Inness said.

Inness’ son Drew, will be back for his junior season and will start at quarterback.

He will be aiming for some tall targets, two at 6-feet-3 and another at 6-2. Coach Inness said that he is looking forward to seeing senior Brady Lorenz (6-3, 195) bounce back after missing all of 2013 with an injury.

“He’s at about 85 percent right now and we hope to have him at full go by July,’’ Inness said.

Division V Northwest Christian has won three state titles (including eight-man 1A in 1996), most recently coming in 2012 and 2010. The Crusaders finished as state runner-up in 2011 and 2002.

They had a strong season in 2013, finishing 8-3. But they stumbled in the first round of the playoffs, falling to a Tempe Prep team 21-0, the same team they had defeated 28-0 earlier in the season.

“We figure to be in the mix this year,’’ Inness said. “A lot of the contenders from last year will be strong again – Yuma Catholic (defending state champ), Round Valley (runner-up), Arizona Lutheran, Tempe Prep, and Pusch Ridge (Tucson) is supposed to be good. We’re certainly hoping to play longer than we did last season.’’

 



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