Marcos de Niza getting stars back this week
The Marcos de Niza football team didn’t have three Division I-caliber athletes on the field last week but didn’t miss a beat.
Although quarterback Josh Eckley, running back Mauriece Lee and cornerback Priest Willis all missed the game, the Padres cruised to a 49-7 win against an overmatched Gilbert team. Backup quarterback Andrew Molina threw for 395 yards while Marcos de Niza went running back-by-committee to replace Lee.
“It was nice to play that way without the big names,” Marcos de Niza coach Roy Lopez said.
Eckley is bothered by a neck injury but was full-go at practice on Monday and should start on Friday against McClintock. Lee was held out against Gilbert because he was sick but is also expected back.
Willis is dealing with a back issue and is around 75-80 percent. His status for Friday is unclear but Lopez said the team will be cautious.
“We’re not going to mess with the back,” he said.
With or without Willis, Marcos de Niza shouldn’t have much trouble the next two weeks against the Chargers and South Mountain. The team’s season finale should be a good one against Cesar Chavez.
Willis is the top senior recruit in the East Valley this year. Following Friday’s game, he will take a red-eye flight to South Bend, Ind. to watch the Notre Dame-Stanford game. Former Chaparral star Davonte Neal currently plays for the Irish.
Lopez said he doesn’t expect Willis to make a verbal commitment any time soon. Willis is being coveted by almost every top team in the country, including USC, LSU, Florida, Nebraska and Auburn.