Vista Grande vs. Apache Junction 9/13/1/

Vista Grande versus Apache Junction on Sept. 13, 2019, in Apache Junction.

APACHE JUNCTION — After coming within one victory from winning the 4A Black Canyon region, the Apache Junction Prospectors are shaped up to compete and play as hard as they can during a shortened 2020 season.

Apache Junction is coming off an impressive 7-3 (4-1) season where it finished in second place to Glendale, who beat the Prospectors 50-42 in the season’s penultimate game to claim the division.

The Prospectors lost 19 seniors from their 2019 squad, but they believe their upcoming juniors and seniors can fill the void and help the school reclaim the 4A Black Canyon title that they won in 2017 and 2018, but new coach Bruce Binkley doesn’t worry about the past.

“I wasn’t here last year,” he said. “I was a head coach in New Mexico, so to be completely honest, I don’t care what happened in the past. I’m just worried about this year. We need to play as hard as we possibly can, and that will translate into wins for us.”

One of the key players the Prospectors are losing is Apache Junction record holder for career passing touchdowns and total touchdowns, Gibson Limongello. The Prospectors having a battle for Limongello’s replacement, as it’s between senior Gavin Limongello and sophomore Gauge Kimbrell.

Last year, Gavin appeared in two games for the Prospectors, throwing for 37 yards and a touchdown, while Kimbrell played defensive back and recorded 16 total tackles.

The Prospectors are returning one of their top players on offense in first-team all-county wide receiver Cameron Garcia. The speedster was a valuable piece in the Prospectors offense, catching 48 passes for 836 yards and 11 touchdowns. This year Garcia is going to have to develop a new connection with either quarterback.

Defensively, the Prospectors had one of the best defenses in their conference, surrendering just 72 points in conference play. Coming back and leading the defense is senior Brody Bullard, who led the team in tackles with 83.

“Brody is a great athlete,” Binkley said. “He’s certainly someone that everyone needs to keep an eye on. He’s 6-1, 220 pounds, he’s going to play everywhere, and he can do whatever you ask him to do.”

This season is unlike any other season, dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Prospectors brought in Binkley to replace Vance Miller, who resigned to become the head coach at Phoenix Arcadia.

Binkley was the head coach at Del Norte High in Albuquerque, N.M., for the last seven years, but he is familiar with Arizona and the Apache Junction community.

“I was born and raised in Tempe, played high school football at Marcos de Niza, and played college football at Mesa Community College,” Binkley said, smiling. “We have three young children, own a home out here and I saw this opportunity come up and I couldn’t pass it up. I love Apache Junction and the community.”

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