Desert Mountain embarks in 5A with senior-heavy roster

Desert Mountain quarterback Kedon Slovis takes the snap during a preseason scrimmage against Apache Junction Thursday, Aug. 9. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

For the past two years, the Desert Mountain High School football team has had much of the same in regards to overall records.

But with a mostly returning roster and a new region and classification, Wolves head coach David Sedmak is confident in what his young men can accomplish.

Desert Mountain went from 6A to 5A after the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s realignment through 2020. The Wolves will be in a new region of Cactus Shadows, Horizon, McClintock, North Canyon, Notre Dame Preparatory and Paradise Valley high schools.

The new region features a mixture of other reclassifications such as Cactus Shadows up from 4A and Horizon down from 6A. It also features 5A state runner-up Notre Dame Prep.

“We’re happy to be playing schools that aren’t twice as big as us, obviously, and with rosters twice as big as ours,” Coach Sedmak said. “But our region, every team in it is solid so it’s not like it’s going to be easy.”

The Wolves finished last regular season 6–4 and fell in the first round of the playoffs to Highland High School. To improve on that record in the new region, Coach Sedmak will turn to his quarterback Kedon Slovis to lead the offense.
Under the tutelage of offensive coordinator and former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner, Slovis is in his second year as a varsity starter and committed to USC in May. He became one of the top passers in the state in 2017.

A year ago, Slovis was working on filling the shoes of longtime varsity starter Austin Nuessle but this year is much different, he said.

“Just having been through 11 games and having seen so many different defenses, I feel so much more confident coming out here and just throwing the ball around and I’ve been with these guys for a lot longer,” he said. “We have a lot of returning seniors so I feel a lot more confident coming out this year.”

The Wolves have a few spots to fill, which graduating players left. Key losses include running back Nick Hill, receiver Josh Walker and safety Luke Donovan.

The Desert Mountain defense collapses the pocket during an Aug. 9 scrimmage against Apache Junction. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

Aside from that, the Wolves will feature a team that largely participated last year and a few who missed because of injury.

“We have a really good (senior) class, a lot of good players in that class,” Coach Sedmak said. “They’ve worked really hard in the offseason. They want to accomplish great things this year. We’re hoping we have guys who step up and get the job done.”

Senior receiver Vince Ellison will fill Walker’s spot in the receiving corp., Slovis said. Ellison will join already established group of Armand Reichelt, Max Walker and Brandon Kron. Max Walker will also get the nod to fill Hill’s vacancy at running back, Coach Sedmak said.

Defensively, senior Riley Tucker, who was last year’s leading tackler, will return as the leader of the unit. The defense also returns five of its top six tacklers from 2017.

Last year, the Wolves allowed an average of 40 points per game and Coach Sedmak said the defense struggled to stop the run. Coach Sedmak said he thinks the defense will have a strong line but needs to be sound in the secondary.

Given all those expectations, Tucker said he’s confident this year’s group can usher in a new era of defense and he hopes opposing teams will take note.

“I want them to know we are hungry,” Tucker said. “We’re coming every play. We’re all going to surround the ball. We’re going to play a little scrappy, try and get that ball out, try and fight for some yards and, most of all, be physical.”

The Wolves open their season Friday, Aug. 17 against Apollo High School and have non-region games against Chaparral and Saguaro high schools. Region play begins Friday, Sept. 14 against Notre Dame Prep.

With tough opponents on the docket, Coach Sedmak said it is vital to use the confidence the team built, previous experience and use it through the rest of the year.

“We don’t have a ‘give-me’ game on the schedule,” he said. “We have to be ready to play every week. We have to continue to get better. We have to stay healthy.”

Desert Mountain Wolves

2017 Record: 6-5 (Lost in 6A first round)

Region: 5A Northeast Valley

Coach: David Sedmak (3rd year)

Offense: Pro-style spread

Defense: Mix 4-3 and 3-4

Key Returners: Kedon Slovis, Sr., QB; Brandon Kron, Sr., WR/DE; Armand Reichelt, Sr., OLB/WR; Riley Tucker, Sr., FS/WR; Evan Beason, Sr., C/DT

Newcomers to Watch: Vince Ellison, Sr., WR/CB; Matthew Anderson, Sr., ILB/FB; Aidan Storm, Sr., OLB/WR; Jacob Graulich, Sr., DT/FB

2018 Schedule
Home games in caps
Aug. 17 APOLLO
Aug. 24 at Chaparral
Aug. 31 at Fairfax
Sept. 7 SAGUARO
Sept. 14 at Notre Dame Prep
Sept. 21 MCCLINTOCK
Sept. 28 at Paradise Valley
Oct. 5 NORTH CANYON
Oct. 12 BYE
Oct. 19 CACTUS SHADOW
Oct. 26 HORIZON

News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at jmartinez@newszap.com or at 623-445-2738

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable. Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the arrow in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment