In the midst of losing it can be difficult to see the positives, progress and possibilities.
Dobson knows about the losing, having dropped five straight with average margin of defeat being 33.4 points a game and head into Friday’s game at 3-6 for its 10th consecutive non-winning season.
Pete Wahlheim knows it doesn’t look good, but it hasn’t shaken his belief that the program has some pieces in place.
“There have been plenty of struggles,” he said. “We have work to do, but when you look at the whole thing we are OK. I came in late, we had some injuries and haven’t played well at times.
“But I think we played our best game (last week) and it was a good effort for all four quarters. There are some things we can take into the offseason and build on. It’s going to take a couple of years to get where we need to be, but we are headed that way.”
Wahlheim has been helped out by a good senior group, led by leaders Marco-Antonio Salas and Jared Haggard, as they’ve dealt with all of the changes and defeats.
“It might be their last year with the team, but the impression they’ve made on the younger players will continue on and that’s very good for the program,” he said.
The program will bring back some experienced talent in junior running back Issic Gomez, junior wide receiver Advonne Wilson and freshman wide receiver/cornerback Xavier Jimenez.
“I’ve had a great time coaching this team,” Wahlheim said. “We’ve got to know each other, and work through some things. It’s a start of something and we’ll see where it goes.”
Sophomore linebacker Sili Fonoti had a pick 6 in last week’s win in his first varsity game. When coach Kap Sikahema met him on field afterwards Fonoti was emotional.
“I went out to ask hug him and notice he was crying,” Sikahema said. “He told me he dedicated the TD to his sister that passed away. It was unbelievable. He thanked me for starting him. I had no about sister.”
Desert Ridge (8-1, 4-0)
The Jaguars have a chance to win a league title outright for the first time since 2014 with a win over Highland, and possibly get the No. 1 overall seed. … Desert Ridge has been relying mostly on its senior and sophomore class this season. “It’s been interesting,” Jags coach Jeremy Hathcock said. “The seniors know what their chores are and they do them without being asked, while the young kids were wondering what they could get at the bubble gum store. It’s taken eight months but they are all on the same level now.” … The Jaguars have three players with more than 500 yards rushing, but no one with more than 600. … The Hawks are 4-0 at home.
Last week: W, 35-7 Desert Vista. This week: at Highland (7-2, 3-1). History (since 2004): 4-4, four-game win streak. AIA ranking: No. 3. Last five: 5-0.
Dobson (3-6, 0-4)
The Mustangs had one of its few leads of the region schedule last week on Issic Gomez’s touchdown run, but couldn’t hold it. … The opposing defense scored on a pick 6 again this week, meaning the Dobson quarterbacks have combined to throw at least six pick 6s this season.
Last week: L, 37-29 at Dobson. This week: Skyline (5-4, 3-1). History (since 2004): 4-3, lost three in a row. AIA ranking: No. 31. Last five: 0-5.
Mesa (4-6, 2-2)
Mesa running back Kris Jackson had only two carries last week, but should be ready for his regular carry load this week. … Marcus Taylor scored five touchdowns last week – four receiving and one punt return. He has 42 catches, 797 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns. … Senior quarterback Nate Hanna has an impressive 20-5 touchdown to interception ratio.
Last week: W, 37-29 Dobson. This week: at Mountain View (5-4, 2-2). History (since 2004): 0-10. AIA ranking: No. 21. Last five: 3-2.
Mountain View (5-4, 2-2)
After missing the previous week, senior wide receiver Jacobby Dinwiddie returned with 10 catches, for 197 yards, and two touchdowns including an 87-yarder. … The Toros have dominated the Jackrabbits in the series. The biggest margin of victory was a 46-0 win over in 2008 and the smallest was 14-10. … The team is expected to get running back Dean Yamada back this week after missing the previous three games. … Junior outside linebacker Alex Talamantes had two tackles for a loss, including his first sack of the season, last week to give him 11 TFLs on the year, trying Jared Mix for the team lead.
Last week: W, 42-14 at Westwood. This week: Mesa (4-6, 2-2). History (since 2004): 10-0. AIA ranking: No. 16. Last five: 3-2.
Red Mountain (8-1, 4-0)
The Mountain Lions will be without starting quarterback Cannon Griner after being ejected last week and starting safety Justin Coleman (hand) after being hurt last week when hit by a teammate while converging on a tackle. … The team’s seven-game win streak is the longest for the program since at least 2004. … The region title is first outright league title since 2007 according to MaxPreps records.
Last week: W, 14-0 Skyline. This week: at Westwood (4-5, 1-3). History (since 2004): 9-1, eight-game win streak. AIA ranking: No. 7 Last five: 5-0.
Skyline (5-4, 3-1)
Quarterback Steven Castle missed most of last week’s game with an injury and will not play this week. The hope is to have him ready for the first round of the playoffs. Sophomore Marcus Brown, who was thrown into a more prominent role last week, will be the quarterback. … A win this week secures a winning season for the fifth straight season, which is believed to be the school record or at least close to it. … Aaron Wood’s junior year ends with 178 carries for 1,139 yards and 14 touchdowns with five 100 yard games. He sustained a broken collarbone last week.
Last week: L, 14-0 at Red Mountain. This week: at Dobson (3-6, 0-4). History (since 2004): 3-4, winners of three straight. AIA ranking: No. 13. Last five: 3-2.
Westwood (4-5, 1-3)
The Warriors have done a good job of getting to the opposing quarterback, getting 27 sacks and eight quarterback hurries on the season. Senior Josh Meacham leads the way with seven sacks. … Senior quarterback Carter Layton leads the team in rushing at 299 yards. … Senior Mitchale Bonitatibus leads the team with three interceptions.
Last week: L, 42-14 Mountain View. This week: Red Mountain (8-1, 4-0). History (since 2004): 1-9, lost eight in a row. AIA ranking: No. 24 Last five: 2-3.
– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.