Scottsdale Community College football eyes return to glory

The Scottsdale Community College football team runs through tackling drills at an Aug. 17 practice. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

The 2016 season for the Scottsdale Community College was a bit of an anomaly compared to what it’s accomplished in recent years.

The Fighting Artichokes went 2–8 last year with one of those wins coming after Snow College in Utah forfeited its victory over SCC.

This losing record was the team’s first since 2011 season which, during that stretch, SCC was usually winning more than seven games each year.

SCC Head Coach Doug Madoski said starting 19 freshmen and late-season coaching changes contributed to 2016 not being the year of the Artichoke.

“I just don’t know if we ever really got cohesive in regard to systems, schemes and things we were trying to install,” he said in an Aug. 17 interview. “We always seemed like we were trying to play catch-up versus being ready to go.”

However, Coach Madoski said he thinks 2017 will be different.

Scottsdale Community College Head Coach Doug Madoski coaches his team during an Aug. 17 practice. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

“I don’t think this was a massive rebuild,” he said. “It was a matter of us growing up and finding some other pieces that could come in and contribute.”

Many of those freshmen return as sophomores and Coach Madoski said they are now bringing an added level of maturity and leadership.

“When you’re a competitive-based individual and you go out and have the season that we had last year, you mature,” he said.

“You start to buoy your neck a little bit and try to find different ways to accomplish a goal. Some of those guys who were here last year and who played last year have worked really, really hard to make sure we don’t have the season we had last year.”

The players weren’t the only ones going through a transformation. Coach Madoski said having success can lead to a level of complacency but having a losing season helped him and his coaching staff find ways to change what they were doing.

These changes included giving the team days off at times. Coach Madoski said he hoped these off days would allow the athletes to take care of school work and to allow them to be “normal and living like a regular kid going to college.”

Another goal of easing the workload is to allow the players to be healthy when the season starts.
As far as goals for 2017, Coach Madoski said his team is capable of regaining its former glory.

“I certainly don’t think it’s going to be easy but I think we’ve got enough pieces that we’ll out-coach some people and put them in the best position to be successful,” he said. “I think at the end of the day, I think we have a chance to get to where we were in the past.”

Changing of the guard

In order to return to its winning ways, the Fighting Artichokes are going to need their returning players to produce solid output, which Coach Madoski said he thinks this year’s personnel is up to the challenge.

“We’ve got some guys out here who can play,” he said.

“I think the biggest thing is if we can come together and do things the right way. Individually, we’ve got some talent. It’s just a matter of getting that talent to play within the framework of schemes offensively, defensively and on special teams.”

Coach Madoski will look to use that talent to fill some holes several high-caliber players left after moving on from SCC.

Salvatore Cannella left a massive hole for the Fighting Artichokes to fill as the tight end was the team’s 2016 leading receiver with 443 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, according to the NJCAA website.

Other notable losses Coach Madoski pointed to include offensive lineman Amir Luckett and quarterback Andrew Bunch.

Bunch was a big piece of last year’s team as a freshman but chose to walk on at the University of Nebraska. Last year, Bunch threw for 1,331 yards and 13 touchdowns, the NJCAA website states.

The Fighting Artichokes also lose receiver Derek Loville who reeled in 218 receiving yards and five touchdowns, second-most on the team.

Defensively, defensive back Kylan Cotton, who was the second-leading tackler for the team in 2016, defensive end Maurice Burton, defensive back Zach Olague and defensive tackle Marquise Clayton all recorded more than 40 tackles but have moved on after their sophomore seasons in 2016.

Coach Madoski said last year’s team didn’t feature any big standout sophomores but his team will still miss those sophomores.

“The guys that we have lost were guys who worked really hard, they were leaders and they stayed together and kept the group together,” he said.

The Scottsdale Community College offensive line runs through an blocking drill during an Aug. 17 practice. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

Scouting report

When looking at his host of returners, Coach Madoski said it is hard to narrow down who some key returners because he sees so many.

On defense, he highlighted linebacker Bozton Sanders and defensive end Chris Jules as some who can make an impact. Sanders was the team’s leading tackler last year while Jules led the team in sacks and tackles for loss.

Coach Madoski also pointed to three cornerbacks who he said have impressed him: Traivon Clayton, freshman Tavion Allen and Omari McCauley.

At safety, Coach Madoski said there are still some players he is considering.

As a whole on defense, he said what makes him most excited is his athlete’s athleticism.

“We’re faster than we’ve been and we’re more explosive than we’ve been in the past,” he said. “We have a pretty good group of guys there.”

Scottsdale Community College football players warm up prior to the start of an Aug. 17 practice. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

Offensively, the quarterback spot is open and Cedric Brooks is one returning for the Fighting Artichokes. Coach Madoski said there are several others the coaches are looking at as well for the position.

The team also returns its leading rusher from a year ago in Micah Reed-Campos, who led the team in rushing yards and touchdowns.

On the offensive line, Coach Madoski said he expects Thomas Preston to make an impact in what he calls an explosive offense.

“We’re young up front but the cupboard is certainly not bare,” Coach Madoski said.

“We feel like we’re really built, even on the offensive side of the ball. In coaching meetings we talk about how we have seven guys that are really good football players that make us feel like the future is bright for us, not just for this season but for seasons to come.”

Coach Madoski also said he has a lot of faith in his return specialists on special teams who he thinks can be the best in the country, which includes returning punter Kevin Macias.

The Fighting Artichokes kick off their season at home against Glendale Community College. Five of the team’s last six games are against preseason ranked opponents and three of those five games are at home.

While a schedule like that can be daunting, Coach Madoski said his main concern is his team and what it can accomplish.

“If our guys come together — and come together as a family and a team — then we can go out a play the best version of who we can be as individuals but do it as a group, we should be successful,” he said.

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

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