Panthers are popular preseason pick to win 1A State Title

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Steven Ybarra (30) runs through Bagdad’s defense.

  Football teams across the state began practices earlier this week with just over three weeks until the start of the 2018 high school season,

The preseason is upon us, which means so are predictions.

  AZPreps365, the digital media partner of the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA), recently conducted a Twitter poll, asking, “Which team will win the 1A football conference this season?”

  The results as of earlier this week are as follows:

Williams – 20%

Superior – 39%

Mogollon – 11%

Other – 30%

  The Panthers’ combination of talent and experience makes it easy to understand why they’re the vogue choice of voters.

  Can the poll results prove to be prophetic?

  “We have big goals, but more importantly, we want to do it the right way,” Panthers head coach Ryan Palmer responded via text to the Superior Sun. “Our emphasis is on team and developing a brotherhood that will last well beyond a single season.

  “Family is our slogan this year,” he continued. “Win or lose, we are going to work our butts off every day and try to have some fun doing it.”

Williams defeated Superior in last year’s state championship game, but Panthers roster was nary a senior a year ago and returns a core group of dynamic players, including Adam Navarette (So), Jesus Castellanos (Sr), Cedric Mendoza (Sr) and reigning 1A East Region Player of the Year Steven Ybarra (Sr).

  Ybarra, the Panthers’ quarterback, who also starred on defense at linebacker, appears on the cover of 2018 AIA Sollenberger Magazine. The southpaw signal-caller figures to be among the best players in the state.

  Superior opens it season at Mayer on Aug. 17.

  The Wildcats finished 8 – 2 a year ago, earning the No. 5 seed in the state playoffs, where they were upset by No. 12 Salome, 72 – 42.

Kickoff in the season opener for both teams is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Andy Luberda (1036 Posts)

Andrew Luberda began writing for Copper Area News Publishers (CANP) in February 2013 after working 15 years in Healthcare Financial Management. Andy covers sports for 11 high schools. His stories are published in Copper Basin News, San Manuel Miner and Superior Sun, in addition to the San Tan Valley Daily PRSS and CopperArea websites. Additionally, he has written human interest stories and business profiles. In May 2012, he earned an AAS in Sports Management at Central Arizona College before graduating with a BS in Communication from Arizona State University in 2014. He and his wife, Kelli, have three sons – AJ, Kyle, and Kade.


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