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Spring football a big deal for Gilbert schools

Posted by on May 3, 2013 – 5:13 pm

For the time being, spring football gets overshadowed a bit by the spring sports’ state tournaments, but it’s in (or about) to be full swing ahead.

What it means for several of the better programs in recent years (Hamilton, Chandler, Desert Mountain, Chaparral, Pinnacle, Red Mountain, Basha, Mountain Pointe, Saguaro, Desert Vista, etc.) is a turnstile of college recruiters and coaches cruising from field to field looking at, and talking with, coaches and kids about the lucky few who could play at the next level.

But the most important asset to these walk-throughs, relatively tame practice drills and “scrimmages” are often the rebuilding or re-constructing programs.

This time around, it’s needed at places such as Gilbert, Mesquite, Apache Junction, Arcadia. A couple, such as Valley Christian and Combs, are still in limbo, with coaching hires coming soon. Still, those programs are well behind the curve.

Spring is a big deal in parts like these, where new coaches (Gilbert, Mesquite and Apache Junction) or those whose “interim” label was shed permanently (Arcadia) fully begin the integration process for their kids of doing something new.

It’s an even bigger deal at the two Gilbert schools, because Tim Rutt is now running the show at Gilbert, a program which went through enormous turmoil the past two seasons between families leaving and coaches being fired. The hope being it’s not only a fresh start, but a team which builds itself back up in due time.

That “time” begins now, as Rutt, a longtime assistant at a few schools (Hamilton and Corona del Sol among others) gets his shot at creating and developing not only the 2013 team, but a program, his way while simultaneously navigating through the residue from a tumultuous 2012 left behind; plus possible budget shortfalls in the future.

Down the street, Jim Jones and his staff have similar ideas to reconstruct the Wildcats, who are only three seasons removed from being a Division I playoff team but is moving down to Div. II.

Jones, of course, has done this a lot in the past 40 years (mostly at Red Mountain), and he takes over for Matt Gracey with a varsity-experienced roster, albeit one which hasn’t experienced many wins. After a two-year tenure — short by football program standards given the number of kids and work required at all levels — it’s time for a completely different learning curve.

That’s difficult on everyone — coaches, kids, parents — and it’s why times like these is where spring football has real significance.

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