The SkyHawks football team enters the 2015 season with four players sporting Division-I offers, including Damian Alloway’s list of 16. Had he not committed to USC nearly two years before he could sign a letter of intent, running back Stephen Carr would presumably have more than five scholarship offers.
After becoming the first school other than Kaiser to win a Sunkist League championship – Summit claimed consecutive league titles in 2011 and 2012 – the SkyHawks have finished second the last two seasons. But talent hasn’t been much of an issue, according to head coach Nick Matheny.
“With our three guys at the skill positions, we’re pretty loaded,” Matheny said. “But we were talented last year too and we were only able to pull out six wins.”
Summmit’s 2014 season can be painted in two distinctly different lights. The SkyHawks didn’t beat a single team that finished above 500. and lost in the first round of the playoffs. They also were an overtime loss away from winning a league championship.
Kaiser edged Summit, 20-14, in overtime last season in the annual matchup that determines the Sunkist League champion. The stakes figure to be the same this season, but coaches around the league, including Kaiser’s, tend to favor the SkyHawks.
“I think Summit is hands down the best team in the league,” Kaiser coach Phil Zelaya said. “They’ve probably got the most talent and they’ve probably got the most explosive player in the area. They’re the league favorites. We’re not going to beat around the bush on that.”
The aforementioned explosive player would be Alloway. The slot receiver/running back/defensive back will again be used in a variety of ways this season. He’ll likely be a slot receiver in college, but Alloway won’t be easy to contain in his final high school season no matter where he lines up in Summit’s no-huddle, spread offense.
Carr, a 6-foot, 180-pound junior could produce a huge season and senior receiver Ronald Draper, who played behind a Division-I player last year, is poised for his own breakout season that will likely carry him into the college ranks.
Summit will hand the reins to quarterback Cade Sparks, who transferred from Western Christian before last season. The 6-4, 180-pound senior will have plenty of weapons, but his development will obviously be crucial to this season’s outcome.
Defense wasn’t to blame for Summit’s shortcomings last year, evidenced by the SkyHawks’ allowance of less than 18 points per game. All-league middle linebacker Andrew Rodriguez returns in his role as the emotional leader of the unit and new addition Jabari Watson will bolster the defensive line.
Watson, a 6-3, 260-pound offseason transfer from Rancho Cucamonga, is one of the more tangible reasons Summit is being lauded as the league favorite. His commitment to the University of Arizona will translate to something significant on National Signing Day, but will his talent help put Summit over the top in the next three months?
“I think everybody in our program is hungry,” Matheny said. “I don’t think anybody’s real happy with where we’re at. We want to go out and prove we can beat some people.”