SAN TAN VALLEY — The Poston Butte and American Leadership Academy — Queen Creek football programs both have a chip on their shoulders from how last season ended.
The Broncos made an unexpected, first-round exit and the Patriots came up just short of the 4A championship.
With a lot to prove, these premier programs will clash to kickoff the 4A football season on Friday night.
Poston Butte is expected to continue with the same brand of smash-mouth football that had them turning heads last season. Returning is 6-5 left tackle Cade Alisa to anchor the line, but it will be recently-promoted Octavious Joe at running back.
Joe’s carries last season were minimal as he played behind now-Nevada running back Zion Burns, but Joe is an impressive athlete in his own right. A stud track star, expect to see his speed on full display as he bears a heavy load against the Patriots.
Friday night also marks the first varsity start of Broncos’ quarterback Andrew Dalmacio’s career. Dalmacio, who is making the position change after an All-Region season at safety, could see plenty of opportunities through the air if the Broncos find themselves in a shootout with the Patriots, whose ability to put up points through the air is unmatched.
Led by one of the best defensive backs in the state, Amari Gilmore, the Broncos kept most opponents under 14 points per game last season, but they will have their hands full.
New ALA Queen Creek head coach and Heisman winner Ty Detmer has several key skill position returners and the opportunity to build on a successful offense, installed by fellow former Brigham Young University quarterback Max Hall, which put up 50 or more points in five games last season.
The Patriots’ high-octane offense features a number of returners from 2020’s 8-2 squad, including Mitch Jensen at running back and their top three receivers, Drake Cluff, Ryan Meza and Elijah Peters who combined for a whopping 119 receptions, 1,747 yards and 20 touchdowns.
At quarterback is Logan Hubler who is, by all accounts, one of the best dual-threat signal callers in the state. En route to the Patriots state title game run, Hubler threw for 2,554 yards and 29 touchdowns, while rushing for 397 yards and nine touchdowns.
“If it’s not there, he’s obviously one of those guys who can pull down and take off, get you yards, but he also really understands the offense and where he needs to go with the ball,” Detmer said.
Broncos head coach Dain Thompson is well aware of the challenges of stopping their offense and said it comes down to disruption.
“Hopefully, our front can get a little bit of pressure and not let them sit and dance around all night,” Thompson said. “But that’s going to be the whole game is basically, can we do anything to disrupt their timing because their passing game when it’s on time is really, really explosive.”