National signing day takes over Southern Arizona

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Ironwood Ridge athletes prepare to sign in front of their parents and friends (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Ironwood Ridge athletes prepare to sign in front of their parents and friends (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

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Marcus Edwards has been starting at defensive tackle at Sabino for three years now. He was selected for multiple “invite only” national level camps and earned a try-out for the U.S. Army High School All American football team in San Antonio, Texas. According to his father Doug Edwards.

Unfortunately, Marcus tore his ACL in spring practice this past year and some plans were put on hold.

“He thought all was lost and several colleges that were recruiting him “cooled off” their interest,” explained Doug Edwards. “Needless to say, this was devastating for a 17 year old.”

Marcus began his physical therapy program ad turned his “setback into a comeback.”

“He assisted his team on the sideline and called plays during games,” his father added. “He mentored the younger players, which provided the Sabercats the motivation to lead them on a seven-game winning streak and qualified for the play-offs for their 12th consecutive season under Jay Campos after beginning the season 0-3.”

Marcus is also a great student and leader off the field.

“Marcus approaches the classroom with the same focus as he does on the field,” his father said. “He is a solid 4.0 student and is the lead for the Sabino Anti-Bullying campaign and tutors struggling students in mathematics. He is currently enrolled in multiple Advanced Placement courses to include Calculus. He has also been inducted into the National Honor Society and was Sabino High School’s representative for the Wendy’s Heisman award. The TUSD African American Studies department has honored him for academic excellence six consecutive years.”

Marcus Edwards with his family and coach Jay Campos (Courtesy)

Marcus Edwards with his family and coach Jay Campos (Courtesy)

Even in recovery, Marcus still received scholarship offers from Cornell University and the U.S. Naval Academy and he chose the Naval Academy so he can fulfill his other dream of serving his country.

Marcus Edwards’ story is a bit different than the rest but also remarkably similar. The students who signed today struggled at one point or another to get where they are. Certainly, the families have struggled to help make their children’s dreams a reality.

Piper Mali (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Piper Mali (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Ironwood Ridge senior basketball standout Piper Mali struggled as a freshman and worked through some personal issues and now she is on the verge of fulfilling her dream of playing college basketball and she will be playing for Pima.

“My freshman year was rough and I was nervous,” explained Mali. “And my grades suffered my sophomore year but I was able to push through all that with hard work and determination.”

Jessica Nelson will be playing soccer at the University of Arizona next year even though she tried to walk away from the sport she loves.

“I quit soccer for about nine months during my sophomore year at Ironwood Ridge,” said Nelson. “But I found I couldn’t live without it. I missed the team aspect, the family and it was a way to get rid of my stress. I’m glad I came back to it.”

John Mareks will be catching at the New Mexico Military Institute next year despite not playing baseball for Ironwood Ridge due to a medical transfer from Canyon del Oro.

“I feel more structure here,” said Mareks. “Ironwood Ridge changed me into a better person and I’m glad I get to continue to play at the next level.”

Salpointe senior pitcher Jio Orozco may never take the mound for the Wildcats depending on how the MLB draft goes but National-level player is preparing for both options.

“I’m at 95 (miles per hour) right now and I’m working on hitting 97,” explained Orozco. “I want to prepare for state and I’m ready for the scouts. I saw a lot of them in Florida so, yeah, I’m ready.”

Powell family (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Powell family (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Finally, Taylor Powell was a Southern Arizona Player of the Year selection for football and he will be playing at NAU next fall. Originally committed to play for Nevada, Powell liked the atmosphere in Flagstaff.

“I was comfortable with the coaches on my official visit,” said Powell. “The team has a lot to offer me and I have a shot at playing inside linebacker as a freshman.”

Buena
Seth Doser, Mesa/Football
Grady McCoy, Mesa/Football
Deonte Williams, Mesa/Football

Canyon del Oro
Josh Cronk, Arizona Christian/Football
Rome Bracy/Arizona Christian/Football

Josh Cronk (Courtesy)

Josh Cronk (Courtesy)

Catalina Foothills
Emily Parker, Oklahoma/Soccer
Hagen Hyatt, Pima/Soccer
Ian Turner, Colorado School of Mines/Football

Courtesy.

Courtesy.

Cienega
Kyle VanAlstine, Pima/Soccer
Adriell Alvarado, Phoenix College/Football
Francisco Dicochea, Pima/Football
Bailey Pavelich, Pima/Softball
Que Brown, Pima/Football
Austin Vaughan, Phoenix College/Football
Trey Stewart-Ruiz, Arizona Christian/Football
Joe Tavizon, Phoenix College/Football

Flowing Wells
Arry Bracamonte, Pima/Softball, Pima
Courtney Brown, Pima/Softball, Pima

Ironwood Ridge
Piper Mali, Pima/Basketball
Jessica Nelson, Arizona/Soccer
Holly Ross, Embry-Riddle/Soccer
Victoria Cooper, NAU/Soccer
Jasmine Vereen, Prairie View A&M/Soccer
Matt Blandeburgo, Gateway/Baseball
Andrew Brooks, Midland/Baseball
John Mareks, New Mexico MI/Baseball
Griffin Facciano, SD School of Mines/Football
Kennon Nunez, Eastern Arizona/Football

Courtesy Photo.

Courtesy Photo.

Marana
Garrett Gillespie, Arizona Christian
Christian Lopez, Arizona/Football

Palo Verde
Danny Hunt, Eastern Arizona/Baseball

Pusch Ridge
Mitch Reilly, San Diego/Football

Sabino
Daniela Sanchez, Pima/Soccer
Marcus Edwards, Navy/Football
Albert Green, Arizona/Football
Marquis Chamblee, Pima/Football
Tyler Fellner, Pima/Football
AJ McBrayer, Pima/Football
Emilio Araiza, Pima/Football

Sabino (Courtesy)

Sabino (Courtesy)

Sahuaro
Jasmine Depasse, Crowder/Softball
Derik Hall, NAU/Football
Omar Lloyd, UTEP/Football
Allison Raniere, Eastern Washington/Soccer

Jasmine Depasse (Courtesy)

Jasmine Depasse (Courtesy)

Derik Hall and parents (Courtesy)

Derik Hall and parents (Courtesy)

Salpointe
Andrew Bianchi, Pima/Soccer
Taylor Anderson, Pima/Soccer
Bryanna Sanchez, Metropolitan State/Soccer
Gavino Carranza, Pima/Soccer
Caroline Amos, Yale/Tennis
Allison Curtis, Central Michigan/Softball
Delfina Morales, Trinity/Softball
Jiovanni Orozco, Arizona/Baseball
Dominique Payne, Phoenix College/Softball
Taylor Powell, NAU/Football
Donny Sands, New Mexico/Baseball
Annie Scarangella, Brown/Softball)
Nathan Thomas, Air Force/Cross Country and Track

Walden Grove
Izzy Calvillo, Peru State/Football

Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here, on AIA365.com and on the pages of the Vail Voice and the Tanque Verde Voice. Contact Andy Morales at AMoralesMyTucson@yahoo.com



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