For the 13th straight year, West Valley Preps honors the best football players from schools in the Northwest Valley.
Both offenses include an all-purpose player who lines up and does damage from multiple positions.
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WEST VALLEY PREPS
The 2022 All West Valley Preps football team
(For West Valley Preps/Courtesy Ed Russell Photography)
Cactus wide receiver Will Galvan, left, beats two Willow Canyon defenders and makes a 43-yard catch to set up his own game-winning touchdown in a 5A first round playoff game Nov. 18 at Apollo High School. Galvan is the overall West Valley Preps player of the year.
(Courtesy Andre Herrera/For West Valley Preps)
Centennial senior running back Kavaughn Clark celebrates after his 18-yard touchdown with 20 seconds left in the Coyotes' Oct. 14 game at O'Connor, giving Centennial the 20-15 lead and eventual win. Clark is the runner up as the West Valley Preps offensive player of the year.
(For West Valley Preps/Paynter Pics)
Liberty senior linebacker Anthony Ruiz tackles Saguaro senior tailback Zaccheus Cooper during an Open Division semifinal Dec. 3 at Mountain Ridge High School. Ruiz is the runner up for West Valley Preps' defensive player of the year.
(Courtesy Grididiron Arizona/For West Valley Preps)
Desert Edge senior running back Chris Cordero puts his hand out while cutting against Cactus on Dec. 10. Cordero is a first team all West Valley Preps running back.
(For West Valley Preps/Courtesy Picture Lady Photography)
Liberty coach Colin Thomas congratulates defensive end My'Keil Gardner after a play during a home game this season. Thomas is the West Valley Preps coach of the year and Gardner is a first team all defensive player.
For the 13th straight year, West Valley Preps honors the best football players from schools in the Northwest Valley.
Both offenses include an all-purpose player who lines up and does damage from multiple positions. With most teams running a variant of the spread offense, the first team has three receivers and the second team includes a tight end.
Also selected were four defensive linemen and four linebackers for each team.
Players may only be selected for offense or defense, but can earn a secondary nomination on special teams.
FIRST TEAM ALL WEST VALLEY PREPS All players are seniors unless noted
QB – Navi Bruzon (junior), Liberty
AP – Will Galvan, Cactus
RB – Kavaughn Clark, Centennial
RB – Chris Cordero, Desert Edge
WR – Prince Zombo, Liberty
WR – Terrance Hall, Moutain Ridge
WR – Nikko Boncore-Montoya (sophomore), Cactus
OL – Alex Doost, Mountain Ridge
OL – Layton Vining, Liberty
OL – Kaleb Jackson-Carter, Desert Edge
OL – Brady Bakke (junior), Centennial
C – Tucker Allred, Liberty
DE – Dom Solano, Cactus
DE – My’Keil Gardner, Liberty
DT – Dylan Roberts, Centennial
DE – Noah Carter (junior), Centennial
LB – Anthony Ruiz, Liberty
LB – Jaylen Dawson (junior), Desert Edge
LB – Jonah Flowers, Valley Vista
LB – Keaton Stam (junior), Liberty
CB – Kenny Worthy III (junior), Centennial
CB – Bryson Wilke, Willow Canyon
S – Jack Kaimipono Bal, Centennial
S – Pono Banuelos, Cactus
K – Brysen Gardner, Centennial
P – Gavin Lentz, Northwest Christian
KR – Aundre Gibson (junior), Desert Edge
PR – Banuelos, Cactus
LS – Cole Marszalek, Millennium
SECOND TEAM ALL WEST VALLEY PREPS All players are seniors unless noted
TE – Braylon Gardner (junior), Liberty
WR – Mikel Henderson, Valley Vista
WR – Josh Morales (junior), Paradise Honors
OL – Logan Getejanc, Shadow Ridge
OL – Jose Mora, Cactus
OL – Jacob Cortina (junior), Desert Edge
OL – Julian Laborin, Dysart
C – Jaron Winters, ALA-West Foothills
DE – Jax Adair, Millennium
DT – Joshua Macon, Willow Canyon
DT – Walker Wisley (junior), Northwest Christian
DE – DeShawn Warner (junior), Desert Edge
LB – Daniel Delponte, Millennium
LB – Raymond Jones (junior), Cactus
LB – Dominic Jewell, Willow Canyon
LB – Hank Stabler, Paradise Honors
CB – Gibson (junior), Desert Edge
CB – Mikey Young, Paradise Honors
S – Marshall Gillette (junior), Northwest Christian
S – Hayden Allen (junior), Mountain Ridge
K – Wilke, Willow Canyon
P – Dylan Conn, Centennial
KR – Blaise Nelson, Valley Vista
PR – Raneill Calvin, Liberty
LS – Ryan Carter, Willow Canyon
UNDERCLASSMEN TO WATCH
ALA-West Foothills: Izaiah Morales (Fr.), DB, Andrew Pu'e (Soph.), LB; Cactus: Gabriel Rodriguez (Soph.), DE, Adrian Suarez (Fr.), C; Centennial: Edward Aragon (Soph.), OG, Kainan Manna (Fr.), QB; Deer Valley: Anthony Rosas (Soph.), LB; Desert Edge: Hezekiah Millender (Soph.), QB; Jaylene Miller (Fr.), OT: Dysart: Noah Ramirez (Soph.) LB; Isaiah Roman (Soph.), RB/DB; Estrella Foothills: Hone Wray (Soph.), QB, Grant Wochner (Soph.), LB/TE; Glendale Prep: Nickolas Cummings (Soph.), WR/S, Josh Rickey (Fr.), OT/DT; Highland Prep: Kohan Hill (Soph.), WR/CB; Ironwood: Mohammad Salman (Soph.), S, Noah Walker (Soph.), QB; Kellis: Bryce Bacon (Soph.), LB, Jonathan Monrreal (Soph.), RB/WR; Liberty: Nick Spence (Soph.), OT; Millennium: Cayden Brown (Soph.), DB; Mountain Ridge: Gavin Dins (Soph.), RB, Kody Halpine (Soph.), DB; Northwest Christian: Dre Bair (Soph.), LB, Reid Myers, RB; Paradise Honors: Sirron Cook (Soph.), DT, Caden Wasden (Soph.), DE; Peoria: Dominic Kramer (Fr.), QB; Ricardo Vasquez (Soph.), S; Shadow Ridge: Parker Brooks (Soph.), WR, Jayden Pico (Fr.), QB; Sunrise Mountain: Vanden Dugger (Soph.), QB; Antonio Olguin (Soph.), OL; Valley Vista: Logan Arrowsmith (Soph.), DE, T.J. Tucker (Soph.), DB; Willow Canyon: Thomas Gilbert (Soph.), DB.
OVERALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Will Galvan, senior WR/QB/DB/KR, Cactus. Last year's offensive player of the year moved away from quarterback (well most of the time) and became almost inarguably the most versatile player we've seen in the history of handing out these awards. Galvan was not the Cobras' leading receiver, rusher or passer. But he scored touchdowns as all three and racked up 599 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, plus 570 yards and eight touchdowns rushing - sometimes on jet sweeps but often as a Wildcat quarterback. Galvan only threw 15 passes as Rudy Gonzales and Braiden Lagafuaina took more snaps at quarterback, but his two years as as the starter meant defenses had to respect his threat to pass. And that was only on offense. Galvan finished with 65 total tackles while starting at defensive back for the first time since his freshman year. He was equally capable of blanketing his man, or separating a receiver from the ball before they could gain possession, as he did on the play that won the Cobras' semifinal at Notre Dame Prep. This came a week after he rushed for 232 yards to take over the quarterfinal against defending champ Horizon. Galvan also averaged 24 yards on nine kickoff returns and filled in for Banuelos on 10 punts.
Runner-up: Noad Carter, junior DE/WR, Centennial. While Carter did not have as many duties as Galvan, he pulled off one of the most difficult two-way roles as the Coyotes' most dynamic and reliable receiver AND top pass rusher. Though he has an ideal frame for a rush end, Carter had to learn the technical aspects of being a down lineman and putting his hand in the dirt as he went. His 14 sacks suggests a quick study. Carter's 27 catches for 348 yards do not jump out but represent more than double the No. 2 Coyote in yards and almost doubles any teammate in ctches for the ground-bound attack.
Liberty junior quarterback Navi Bruzon rolls out during a Nov. 25 Open Division quarterfinal game against O'Connor in Peoria. Bruzon is the West Valley Preps offensive player of the year. (Courtesy Steve Paynter/Paynter's Pics)
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Navi Bruzon, junior QB, Liberty. Bruzon did always have this kind of season in him though his growth curve as a downfield passer has accelerated stunningly. Technically, his completion percentage dropped from 74 percent as a part-time starter his sophomore year, to 71 percent this season. But the degree of difficulty and distance of those throws increased exponentially. Bruzon's yards per completion shot up from 12.6 yards to 17.2 despite him finishing the year with 73 more completions. Don't take our word for it, though. The Arizona Cardinals and Gatorade both named him the state player of the year. Despite playing quarterback all season, Bruzon ran considerably less, 92 complared to 145 in 2021. He didn't need to, as the Lions bewildered opponents by running an up-tempo system that constantly looked to push the ball downfield through the air. Bruzon's 3,041 yards and 33 TDs versus 6 picks are all you need to know about how good he was at the controls. What does this dynamo have in store for us next year?
Runner-up: Kavaughn Clark, senior RB, Centennial. Clark's year was tremendous, but not quite as eye popping as Bruzon. But there is an argument that Clark's presence was more essential than even Bruzon's. He rushed for 1,432 yards in the regular season . Stats for the Chandler playoff game were not posted. Anyway, he had 1,579 of Centennial's 3,599 offensive yards, and 16 of 36 touchdowns. Here's the bigger question. If Clark goes down, who steps up to provide anything close to his production? Neither Sa'Mar Turner nor Jaylen Scott was able to gain 200 yards in relief, and both averaged about a yard less per carry than Clark. That's despite opponents routinely lining up eight men in the box to stop Clark.
Cactus defensive lineman Dom Solano (58) sacks Horizon quarterback Kaden Zordani during the Cobras' 26-18 quarterfinal win in the 5A playoffs Nov. 25. (For West Valley Preps/Courtesy Ed Russell Photography)
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Dom Solano, senior, DE, Cactus. Sometimes, the weight of sheer statistics is heavy enough to tilt an award in that player's direction. During Liberty's undefeated regular season, the biggest question was which Lion would take home this award, defensice end My'Keil Gardner for drawing the double teams or linebacker Anthony Ruiz for spearheading the pass rush? Solano quietly had 14 egular season sacks, serving notice with a four-sack game in the next to last week versus Verrado. Then he nearly equaled his season total in four playoff games, three sacks against Willow Canyon, two against Horizon and four each facing Notre Dame Prep and Higley. Beyond the 13 sacks he had 20 tackles for loss, including six in his "low" sack game against Horizon. The 6-4, 225-pound end often put up these numbers by chasing down mobile quarterbacks and shifty running backs in the backfield, taking down a fast opponent by the legs. He also had another huge stat, 101 tackles, to complete the best overall year by a West Valley defensive end in a long time.
Runner-up: Anthony Ruiz, senior LB, Liberty. Ruiz brought many of the same things to the table as a linebacker that Solano does as an end - relentless effort as a pass rusher plus solid gap responsibility as one of the team's leading tacklers. He finished with 97 total tackles, 11.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss. The more compact Ruiz also brought some punishment, joining Stam and senior Rune Tepolt in the state's hardest hitting linebacker crew.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Colin Thomas, Liberty. The Lions were generally considered a top four or five team in the state entering the season, so an undefeated regular season and #1 ranking was not a huge shock. But the way Liberty dominated the regular season was. Thomas led a determined, self-motivated team that maxed out its potential. Liberty torched Colorado runner up Valor Christian 50-7, beat defending Open Division champion Saguaro 26-17 in Scottsdale, then traveled to Chandler the next week and dominated 2022 Open champ Basha 35-7. That title probably heads to North Peoria if not for a virtuoso performance by Saguaro quarterback Devon Dampier in the Sabercats' 42-41 Open semifinal upset. How far had liberty come by then? The Lions entered that game ranked #14 nationally, by far the highest in program history. Even with the gut-wrenching loss, Liberty finished the 2022 season as the #24 team in the country. And the Lions really weren't in that discussion before Thomas took over in 2022.
Runner-up: Brian Belles, Cactus. The deck was stacked against the longtime assistant coach in his first year as head coach. All but six starters from the 2022 Open Division team graduated and coach Joseph Ortiz left for Perry. The recent success moved Cactus up to 5A and it was now the public school with the lowest enrollment in the conference. Three transfers, including the eventual starting quarterback, a two-way lineman and another starting offensive lineman, were out the first five games. The Cobras started two freshmen along the offensive line and lost to Desert Mountain and ALA-Queen Creek to start the season. Basha blew their doors off 56-0 in the final game before the tranfers came in. Belles stayed patient, got a key 7-0 win at 4A runner up Snowflake, and prepared the Cobras for a run at full strength. Cactus did not lose again until the 5A final against Higley, gutting out road upsets at Desert Edge at Notre Dame Prep. Belles and his staff had to juggle their lineups more than any other contending team and made some unconventional game plans work.
Second runner-up: Justin Stangler, Willow Canyon. The Wildcats lost a lot of seniors from a 7-3 team last year. Instead of falling back to the pack, Stangler and his staff plugged some gaps, found unique ways to get Ferris the ball behind a powerful offensive line and shook off two losses, including a hugely frustrating defeat at Valley Vista. Two weeks later Willow Canyon jumped to a huge lead against Apollo and held on for a 32-27 win. That put the Wildcats into a three-way tie for the Northwest Region title, which it won thanks to having the highest power point ranking. Willow Canyon made its first playoffs since 2011 and gave Cactus all it wanted in a 21-14 loss. It turned out, this was the team Stangler had been building toward.