Ben Parks
ASU Student Journalist

Desert Ridge football: Regional Preview

September 23, 2023 by Ben Parks, Arizona State University

Desert Ridge football coach Roy Lopez speaks to his team at the start of practice on Tuesday. (Ben Parks photo / AZPreps365)

Ben Parks is an ASU Cronkite School of Journalism student assigned to cover Desert Ridge High School for AZPreps365.

The Desert Ridge Jaguars varsity football team stands at 1-3 through its first four games heading into regional play.

After a victory in the home opener against Cienega, the Jaguars lost three-straight games to 6A opponents. Desert Ridge will next face Mountain View this Friday before playing its last two home games of the season against Cesar Chavez and Tolleson Union.

This will be the first matchup between Desert Ridge and Mountain View since the 2015-2016 season, where the Jaguars won 46-22 in a season where they ultimately made the state championship game. Eight years later, the two schools match up once again, but the Jaguars are under a new head coach. Roy Lopez has over 20 years of experience coaching high school football moving around Arizona, but this is his third year coaching the Jaguars. With his time at Desert Ridge, he’s gotten to grow with the players, and has several key senior players on his roster that have grown with him.

The offense is led by four key senior players: Quarterback Major Wootan, tight end Creed Hallows, running back Isiah Palmer, and offensive lineman Greg Bienvenue. With Hallows converting to a tight end for the senior season, he and Wootan have formed a quick connection in the passing attack. With Palmer in the backfield as a rushing and receiving threat, and 6-foot, 4-inch, 280-pound Bienvenue leading the offensive line, the Jaguars’ offense is capable of going score for score with the rival regional teams.

The Mountain View Toros stand at 2-2, coming off a 45-7 loss against Basha. The Toros use a dual quarterback system, with senior quarterback Jack Germaine primarily leading the offense. The Toros’ strength is their passing attack, something Desert Ridge will look to limit with a defense lead by senior linebacker Logan Rogers and senior defensive back Samuel Johns, both of whom have one interception each on the season so far. Coached by Samuel’s father, Sammy Johns, the Desert Ridge defense has shown to be a strong unit as a whole so far this season.

In the 6A Fiesta region this year, Desert Ridge is tied with Tolleson for fourth place out of six teams. The Jaguars are third in the region in both points scored and points allowed through the first four games. In the region, Wootan ranks second in passing yards per game and Hallows ranks first in receiving yards per game. Logan Rogers ranks first in total tackles and Samuel Johns ranks eighth.

With standouts at several key positions and statistics, the senior players for Desert Ridge have a chance to lead their teammates through this stretch of five-straight regional games before finishing the season against Highland. Coaches Lopez and Sammy Johns prepared the Jaguars this week for the matchup against the Toros this Friday. A win at the start of the regional play could kickstart momentum for the Jaguars as they look to finish the season atop the 6A Fiesta region.