After reaching the second round of the state playoffs in 2010, the football program at Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor has struggled.
But with an enthusiastic, competitive group coming back in 2014, coach John Rodriguez believes that trend can be reversed.
The Eagles are gearing up for the season by participating in passing competition at Phoenix Brophy Prep on Tuesday nights and playing in a passing league at Arizona State.
“Things have been going well,’’ Rodriguez said. “We have a lot of returning starters back.’’
SDO faced Mesa Mountain View in the early going on Tuesday night (June 10).
The team has been “up and down’’ at ASU, according to Rodriguez.
“We looked good against some of the stronger teams like (Phoenix) Mountain Pointe (defending Division I champion) and (Chandler) Hamilton (Division I runner-up), but not so great against other teams. We need to build more consistency.’’
Rodriguez is encouraged by the development of quarterback Bailin Markridge, a junior-to-be.
“He started last year as a sophomore and in the second half of the season, he really stepped up,’’ Rodriguez said. “He is taking command of the offense.’’
The coach also likes the potential of his skill players, but admits there isn’t much depth there yet.
SDO will have some solid defensive players, such as middle linebacker Chris Davis and free safety Oscar Mills.
There is a group of good linemen, Rodriguez said, led by senior Jamison Pruitt, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound two-way player. The linemen are working hard to improve their strength and quickness.
“We will be very team-oriented this year, everyone watching out for and supporting each other. That hasn’t always been the case in past years,’’ Rodriguez said.
That team aspect could help the Eagles when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter.
“We had some games that we lost last year, that could have gone the other way in the fourth quarter,’’ Rodriguez said.
Beginning July 14, SDO will have a six-day preseason camp at Blue Ridge High in Lakeside. The team will have a tough schedule. Some of the opponents are Hamilton, Avondale Westview, Mesa Desert Ridge, Anthem Boulder Creek and Surprise Valley Vista.