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FLORENCE – This season’s Gophers are going to be somewhat young in places, but they do have some good seniors, Coach Bill McKane said.

Quarterback for the last two seasons, Christopher Walter, has graduated. Two sophomores, Jett Scott and Noah Madueno, and senior Tommy Carberry, were recently competing for that position.

Florence will start its season without a couple of good seniors. Isaac Sandoval is on the injured reserve list, but McKane looks forward to him coming back as a receiver. Another Gopher who would ordinarily be one of Florence’s best players, Cade Stenson, is also injured.

Still, “I think we’re going to be very good,” McKane said. “We have some good seniors. They will be strong on the defensive line, I think.”

Ruben Torres, a linebacker and running back, has good speed and is “as tough as they come.” Linebacker and running back Kaleb Lewis, along with Ryan King, Victor Aguirre, Aiden Cook and Jason Gonzales are also expected to be standouts.

Among the juniors there’s Anthony Pistorio, a good receiver, Adomi Barnett, a very good corner, and Jaxson Trentadue, an outside linebacker. The coach is also looking for good work from Wrangler Guilliams.

“Because our quarterbacks are so young, we’re working hard on the passing game. I think we have some pretty good running backs.” One is Xander Smith, who’s “really fast and runs good routes.” Another is Dayday Neal, McKane said.

The Gophers will be playing a tough schedule against teams such as Thatcher, Show Low, Benjamin Franklin and Coolidge, but McKane said his team is highly-motivated.

“They’ve been working very, very hard,” McKane said. “They’ve been in the weight room, and (playing) spring ball, summer ball, everything. They’re committed.”

McKane began coaching more than 40 years ago at Mesa Junior High and has filled various coaching roles at FHS in recent years. He returns as interim varsity coach, following Scott Howard’s resignation after seven seasons coaching Florence.

Friday Night Spotlight game of the week Santa Cruz Valley at San Tan Charter.

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Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.