azcentral Sports Awards Boys Athlete of the Week, 2021-22 season

·29 min read
Arizona High School Sports Awards
Arizona High School Sports Awards

To nominate a Boys or Girls Athlete of the Week or an Academic All-Star, go to nominations.azcentral.com.

The azcentral Sports Awards are given out each spring. Keep checking azcentral.com for updated information.

May 19, 2022

Joe Perez, Baseball, Buckeye Verrado

Perez helped lift Verrado to its first-ever state championship. In Tuesday’s 3-2 title game win over Nogales, he struck out eight allowed just two runs in 6 2/3 innings before being removed with his pitch count sitting at 104.

The performance was the final chapter of a stellar postseason, in which Perez allowed just three runs in four starts. His best game was against Scottsdale Horizon in the semi-finals, when he pitched a two-hit shutout, vaulting the Vipers to a 1-0 win.

"He wants the ball," Verrado coach Darrell Hatfield said. "He was incredible throughout the playoffs. He won back to back to back games."

May 12, 2022

Andrew Carroll, Baseball, Scottsdale Chaparral

Carroll has had an excellent senior season, hitting .353 and pitching to a 2.30 ERA in 24 1/3 innings. Those performances helped carry Chaparral to a No. 8 seed in the 6A playoffs this month.

That’s where Carroll elevated to the next level. Against No. 1 Chandler Hamilton in last week’s second round, Carroll threw a complete came shutout, striking out 10, walking one and allowing two hits as the Firebirds won, 5-0. Then, on Saturday, he knocked in two runs, helping Chaparral into the semi-finals with a 9-7 win over Queen Creek.

“I’ve been waiting to do that for my four years at (Chaparral),” Carroll said. “I have not gotten the chance to pitch against (Hamilton), so this means the most to me, because I knew that was going to happen.”

May 5, 2022

Brian Fair Jr., Track and Field, Phoenix South Mountain

Before last weekend, Fair — a senior who’s been a sprinter for most of his high school career — had only run the 800-meter race twice. Immediately, it was clear he had a knack for the event, breaking the 2-minute mark both times.

Merely breaking the 2-minute mark, though, is a far cry from what he did Saturday at the Perry Puma Last Chance Meet in Gilbert. Not only did Fair win the race, but he set a state record, running a 1:50.12, breaking the mark set by Tempe Desert Vista’s John Kline in 2008.

“It was an extremely exciting race to watch as Brian set a new state record in the 800,” South Mountain coach Dwayne Evans said. “He led from start to finish and it was only his third open 800 of his high school career. There is so much more in the tank.”

April 28, 2022

Danny Martinez, Baseball, Laveen Betty Fairfax

For the better part of a month, between March 17 and April 12, Martinez didn’t pitch because of an injury to his throwing shoulder. So how did he do when he returned?

Well, on April 12, Martinez pitched two scoreless innings in relief. Then, on April 19, he unleashed an absolute gem, striking out 16 while facing one over the minimum in six scoreless innings of Betty Fairfax’s 10-0 over Phoenix Carl Hayden.

Martinez, who plays shortstop when he’s not pitching, has also shined at the plate of late. Over the past week, he’s had three or more hits in three of Betty Fairfax’s four games, going 10-for-15 with five extra base hits and 10 RBI in that span.

“Danny does everything right and to the best of his abilities,” Betty Fairfax coach Michael Greene said. “He is a special player that I'm proud I got to coach for four years.”

April 21, 2022

Hadley Kukla, Tennis, Phoenix Brophy Prep

Over the past two and a half decades, Brophy Prep tennis has become as strong of a dynasty as exists in Arizona high school sports, winning 16 of the last 25 Division I state championships. This year looks to be a continuation of that success, which last resulted in the Broncos finishing atop the state in 2019.

If they do win another title, it will likely be in large part due to Kukla, who is the No. 1 on Brophy Prep’s top-ranked 14-0 squad. Kukla is 13-1 overall on the season and 8-0 in singles matches.

 “Hadley has worked hard to expand his offensive capabilities this year and the results are showing,” Brophy Prep coach Eric Chalmers said. “He has also proven, time and again, that he is the guy who will always find a way to win no matter how far behind he is.”

April 14, 2022

Grant Richardson, Baseball, Scottsdale Horizon

Richardson pitched a six-inning no-hitter in Horizon’s 5-1 win over Camas (WA) on April 6. The win was among the Huskies’ most impressive of the year and moved them to 17-4 (now 19-4).

Although Richardson, who struck out 11 in his no-hitter, walked five and gave up one run, the performance dropped his ERA on the season to an impressive 2.47.

“Grant Richardson had a special performance going at the National Classic vs Camas out of Washington,” Horizon coach Beau Polvorosa said.

April 7, 2022

Blaise Nelson, Track, Surprise Valley Vista

At the Nike Chandler Rotary Classic on March 26, Nelson ran the state’s fastest times in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dash. On the season, he’s finished in first place in seven of 10 races.

“Blaise is probably the most coachable athlete I've had,” Valley Vista coach Willie Walker said. “He's a hard worker and a gifted runner who's new to track and field. This is only his second year doing track and field but he has this incredible desire to race and if that involves winning, well, he'll try to meet the challenge. Lastly, he's a leader on the track and in the classroom as well having fun and enjoying the experience that track and field brings.”

Nelson, a junior, has also spent the past two years playing receiver for Valley Vista’s football team. Across 18 games, he has 903 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

March 31, 2022

Talon Kohler, Volleyball, Marana Mountain View

Talon Kohler, a senior at Marana Mountain View, leads Arizona in kills.
Talon Kohler, a senior at Marana Mountain View, leads Arizona in kills.

Through one month of the Arizona boys volleyball season, Kohler is leading the state with 213 kills. This week, the 6-foot-5 senior put together perhaps his best performance of the year, recording a season-high 24 kills against Tucson Amphitheater, while also posting a season-high 63.2 kill percentage.

Thanks to Kohler’s performances, Mountain View is 11-7 and ranked No. 11 in 5A as they look to repeat the success of last year’s quarterfinal run in the state playoffs.

“He has exceeded my expectations this season thus far,” Mountain View coach Lindsey Spivey said. “Not only has he stepped up and was voted team captain by his teammates, but he is currently leading the state in kills and we’re only half way through the season. He is also on the leaderboard for blocks. He is an excellent example of an all-around player and will jump into any role I need him to in practice and games.”

March 24, 2022

AJ Singer, Baseball, Glendale Mountain Ridge

AJ Singer hit .500 with four homers at last week's Boras Classic.
AJ Singer hit .500 with four homers at last week's Boras Classic.

Last weekend, at the Boras Classic in Tempe, Singer helped Mountain Ridge pick up big wins over Mesa Red Mountain and Basic Academy (NV). In the tournament, Singer went 8-for-16 with four homers, seven RBI and five runs scored.

In the win over Basic Academy, he hit two home runs — a lead-off homer to left and a walk-off shot to right later in the game to give Mountain Ridge a 5-4 win. On the season, the junior shortstop is now hitting .359 with a 1.263 OPS.

“AJ is very talented with an amazing work ethic and competitive grit th will keep him in the game of baseball for a long time,” Mountain Ridge coach Eddie Bonine said. “He's a leader for our squad in so many ways.”

March 17, 2022

Zach Rama, Volleyball, Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor

Earlier this month, O’Connor traveled to the Best of the West Tournament in Poway, Calif. — a revered event often dominated by California teams.

Zach Rama, left, has helped O'Connor to MaxPreps' No. 1 national ranking in boys volleyball.
Zach Rama, left, has helped O'Connor to MaxPreps' No. 1 national ranking in boys volleyball.

Not this year.

O’Connor, which is undefeated through 11 matches, won its first-ever championship at the event and Rama — a UCLA commit — was named the tournament MVP. As a result, the Eagles are now MaxPreps’ top-ranked team in the nation.

On the season, Rama, who is part of the U19 U.S. National Training Team, has an incredible .432 hitting percentage while also leading O’Connor in aces and digs.

“I am fortunate to be part of such a talented team with great coaching,” Rama said. “I’m looking forward to the rest of the season and accomplishing much more in the future.”

March 10, 2022

Yan Vazquez, Mesa Red Mountain, Track and Field

Red Mountain's Yan Vazquez won first place in three events at this weekend's Aztec Invitational.
Red Mountain's Yan Vazquez won first place in three events at this weekend's Aztec Invitational.

Vazquez was the star of the show at last weekend’s Aztec Invitational — Red Mountain’s first weekend meet of the year after its third-place finish at last year’s state championships.

He won first place in the 110 and 300-meter hurdles with times of 14.89 and 37.53, respectively. He also added a personal record 6-foot, 7-inch jump in the high jump to win first place in that event.

And, just for good measure, Vazquez was the second leg on Red Mountain’s 4x400 relay team, which ran a 3:28.83 to finish in second place.

Vazquez, who won the 300-meter hurdles at last year’s Division I state championships, is committed to run at UCLA next year.

"Yan had a special day," Red Mountain coach Josh Barge said. "He came out with a pretty strong 110-meter hurdles time, and we were super pleased with the 300-meter hurdles time he posted and he ran a sub-48 split in the 4x4, but the 6-7 jump was something else. Sometimes you just get in that zone where it all lines up. Couldn’t be happier with his start."

March 3, 2022

Nate Calmese, Basketball, Gilbert Mesquite

Feb 28, 2022; Phoenix, Ariz., U.S.;  Mesquite guard Nate Calmese (1) runs the fast break against Salpointe Catholic guard James Smotherman (0) during the 4A state boys basketball championship game at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Feb 28, 2022; Phoenix, Ariz., U.S.; Mesquite guard Nate Calmese (1) runs the fast break against Salpointe Catholic guard James Smotherman (0) during the 4A state boys basketball championship game at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

In last week’s 4A semifinal against Phoenix St. Mary’s, Calmese hit one of the greatest shots of all time in Arizona high school basketball — a three-quarters court buzzer beater to pull off a miraculous, 74-73, win and lead Mesquite to its first-ever state championship game.

So how did Calmese follow that up?

By scoring 34 points in a 64-58 title game win over Tucson Salpointe Catholic. Calmese, who finished the season averaging 31.4 points per game, also chipped in 10 rebounds and five assists.

“He's an absolutely incredible talent," Mesquite coach Shawn Lynch said. "Just has instincts offensively. He plays all three levels, deep, mid and layups. He should be a Player of the Year candidate, no questions.”

Feb. 24, 2022

Sergio Ruiz de Chavez, Soccer, Tucson Salpointe Catholic

Feb 22, 2022; Gilbert, Arizona, U.S.;  Salpointe Catholic forward Sergio Ruiz De Chavez  celebrates after scoring as Notre Dame Prep defender Albert Aguirre watches during the State 4A boys soccer championship at Williams Field High School.
Feb 22, 2022; Gilbert, Arizona, U.S.; Salpointe Catholic forward Sergio Ruiz De Chavez celebrates after scoring as Notre Dame Prep defender Albert Aguirre watches during the State 4A boys soccer championship at Williams Field High School.

Salpointe Catholic took home its third 4A soccer crown in four years on Tuesday night, beating Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep, 3-1. As he so often has been over the past three years, Ruiz de Chavez was the star.

The senior, who scored 26 goals for the Lancers in his varsity career, came up big when it mattered most. Just before halftime, he poked a loose ball home off of a throw in to give Salpointe Catholic a 1-0 lead. On the other side of the halftime, he brought a through ball down perfectly with his chest and slotted past the keeper, completing his brace and giving the Lancers an unassailable lead.

“So much adrenaline,” Ruiz de Chavez said. “… Man, I just had no idea what was going on. I just ran to my coach because I owe him so much.”

Feb. 17, 2022

Kegan Lynch, Soccer, Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep

Lynch has been a star for Notre Dame Prep all season. He’s second on the team in goals with 14 and first in assists with eight.

This week, though, he’s taken his performances to another level.

In Notre Dame Prep’s playoff opener against Goodyear Desert Edge, Lynch scored twice, leading the way in a 5-1 win. Three days later, he helped the Saints past Phoenix Cortez, 2-1, with a critical goal.

Notre Dame Prep’s quest for its first state title in a decade continues Saturday against Phoenix Barry Goldwater in the 4A semifinals.

“Kegan is a player every coach wishes they had 11 of on the field,” Notre Dame Prep coach Michael Navarro said. “He comes to practice ready to go and makes everyone around better. Kegan is the beat to our team. When he's on fire, the team feeds off it.”

Feb. 10, 2022

Donovan Beard, Mesa Dobson, Basketball

Entering Feb. 3’s game against Mesa Mountain View, Beard had never scored more than 24 points in a single contest. Against the Toros, though, he was a man possessed, scoring 34 points on 13-of-25 shooting.

Donovan Beard scored a career-high 34 points in Dobson's win over Mesa Mountain View.
Donovan Beard scored a career-high 34 points in Dobson's win over Mesa Mountain View.

Still, Dobson appeared set to fall, 56-54, entering the game’s final possession. That’s when Beard made his biggest impact of the night, nailing a three at the buzzer to finish the regular season with an exclamation point and cement Dobson’s place in the 6A playoffs.

“Donovan was clutch down the stretch scoring 15 of our last 19 points,” Dobson coach Rick McConnell said. “His final three was a tough Dobson shot over the defender's hands.”

Feb. 3, 2022

Aidan Matheson, Phoenix Pinnacle, Soccer

Aidan Matheson has scored eight goals in his last four games for Pinnacle.
Aidan Matheson has scored eight goals in his last four games for Pinnacle.

With just two games left before the 6A state tournament kicks off, Pinnacle is finding its stride. The Pioneers are riding a four game win streak, including Wednesday’s 2-0 win over 12-2-1 Scottsdale Chaparral.

Over that stretch, Aidan Matheson has dominated. In the four games, he’s scored eight goals and recorded four assists. On the season, he’s assisted five goals and scored 19 — the most among 6A juniors.

“Any success I've had this season I owe to my hard-working teammates,” Matheson said. “At the end of the day we all share the same goal of winning the state championship.”

If Pinnacle achieves that goal this month, it would be its first title since 2010.

Jan. 27, 2022

Caleb Shaw, Chandler Valley Christian, Basketball

Caleb Shaw scored 42 points in Valley Christian's win over Mesa Eastmark.
Caleb Shaw scored 42 points in Valley Christian's win over Mesa Eastmark.

At 17-3, Valley Christian is the No. 2 team in the AIA’s 3A rankings and a leading contender for next month’s 3A conference title. Over the past week, the Trojans stayed on track for that goal with three straight wins to bounce back from a Jan. 14 loss to ALA-Gilbert North.

In those games, Shaw averaged 30.3 points per game, continuing his excellent season. On the year, he’s averaging 24.6 per game.

His biggest performance came on Thursday night against Mesa Eastmark. Valley Christian trailed, 66-65, when Shaw drew a foul with 1.7 seconds left. He calmly stepped to the line and drained both free throws — his 41st and career-high 42nd points of the game — to give the Trojans a thrilling 67-66 win.  

“Caleb did a great job of getting to the rim to finish or to get to the FT line,” Valley Christian coach Greg Haagsma said. “He certainly carried us for a good part of that game.”

Jan. 20, 2022

Connor McHale, Phoenix Desert Vista, Soccer

Connor McHale scored a hat trick in Desert Vista's 4-2 win over Westwood.
Connor McHale scored a hat trick in Desert Vista's 4-2 win over Westwood.

In The Republic’s boys soccer Super 10 this week, Desert Vista came in as the state’s No. 1 boys soccer team. The Thunder have rolled with recent wins over Tolleson and Mesa Westwood.

Connor McHale was the star in the latter win. He scored a first-half hat trick, helping Desert Vista to a 4-1 halftime lead en route to a 4-2 victory.

“Our team played great and fortunately I was the man to finish off our chances,” McHale said.

With the performance, McHale now has 10 goals on the season to go with his two assists. All of his team-high 12 goal contributions have come in wins for the Thunder, who are 11-1-4.

Jan. 13, 2022

Anthony Batson, Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep, Basketball

Anthony Batson scored 47 points in Notre Dame Prep's 2OT win over Cactus.
Anthony Batson scored 47 points in Notre Dame Prep's 2OT win over Cactus.

In its current five-game win streak, Notre Dame Prep has had no shortage of stars. Batson, though, has been atop the list. Across this week’s three wins, he averaged 26.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.

His best performance came when it mattered most. Against Glendale Cactus, the Saints were pushed to their limit in a double-overtime thriller. Batson responded with an astonishing 47 points to go with 10 rebounds, lifting Notre Dame Prep to a 83-80 win.

“I just wanted to give my team what we needed to win," Batson said. "Whether it be scoring, defense, or rebounding, winning was all that mattered in my mind that night.”

Jan. 6, 2022

Mason Knollmiller, Basketball, Gilbert Highland

Mason Knollmiller, Highland
Mason Knollmiller, Highland

Tucson High entered Tuesday night with a sparkling 13-0 record and was ranked as The Republic’s No. 6 team in 6A. Thanks to Knollmiller, Highland put an end to that. After trailing by nine early and two at halftime, the Hawks eventually won, 65-48.

Knollmiller made his first 11 field goal attempts and finished with a game-high 28 points on 13-of-15 shooting, spurring the comeback charge to move Highland to 11-3.

“Mason has the ability to get to the basket,” Highland coach Todd Fazio said. “He did a really good job of finishing through some contact and over contesting defenders. He is at his best in the open floor and was able to create some transition baskets with his defense as well. He had a really solid game on both ends of the floor.”

Dec. 16, 2021

Devon Dampier, Football, Scottsdale Saguaro

Junior quarterback Devon Dampier led Saguaro to its first Open Division title.
Junior quarterback Devon Dampier led Saguaro to its first Open Division title.

For five years, Chandler had dominated the Arizona high school football scene, winning five consecutive state championships. On Saturday, Saguaro put an end to that reign, beating the Wolves, 20-15, at Sun Devil Stadium to claim its first Open Division crown.

For the fifth-seeded Sabercats, the win completed a shocking sweep of Arizona Avenue. They beat No. 1 seed Chandler Hamilton in the semifinals.

Dampier, Saguaro’s junior quarterback, was at the center of both wins. Against Chandler, he accounted for 306 yards of total offense and two touchdowns. With 4:25 to play, he found sophomore Jaedon Matthews for a 45-yard game-winning touchdown.

“Everybody here tonight saw that he's a dynamic playmaker,” Saguaro coach Jason Mohns said. “The thing that makes him so special, he's such a natural, charismatic leader. He lets stuff roll off his back and he makes the next play.”

Dec. 9, 2021

Nason Coleman, Football, Chandler

Chandler tight end Nason Coleman played the hero in the team's semifinal playoff win Dec. 3. The senior tight end only had five receptions for 48 yards on the night, third most on his own team, but he made the play of the game on the first possession of overtime against Liberty.

Facing a critical fourth down, quarterback Blaine Hipa threw the ball up to Coleman in the end zone. Coleman was draped by a Liberty cornerback but reached around him to make a stunning, acrobatic, one-handed catch and give Chandler a 27-21 win, sending it to the Open Division championship game.

“I just saw that it was a good mismatch and I was hoping Blaine would put it up and he did,” said Coleman, who is committed to Princeton . “He put it in a perfect spot where I could get it. I'm just glad I made the catch.”

Dec. 2, 2021

My’Keil Gardner, Football, Peoria Liberty

All season, Chandler Basha was one of the state’s most dynamic teams. Led by quarterback Demond Williams Jr., the Bears went undefeated in the regular season.

So, in last week’s Open Division quarterfinal matchup, Basha was expected to knock off No. 6 Liberty. Gardner and fellow junior defensive end Anthony Ruiz put an end to that notion.

The pair combined for seven sacks, with Gardner picking up 4.5 of his own to bring his season total to nine. After missing last season with a torn meniscus, he’s been one of the state’s most dominant pass rushers as a junior.

“We kinda expected (Williams) to run around a little bit more but our game plan worked,” Gardner said. “We had been practicing for the last two weeks and just keeping him in the pocket or flushing him to the opposite side of his right. So just him being in the pocket, it just gave me more time and coverage sacks, too.”

Nov. 24, 2021

Gavin Smith, Football, Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep

Entering last weekend, Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep vs. Glendale Apollo was set to be among the most competitive games in the 5A first round. Instead, the Saints jumped out to a 14-0 lead within the first five minutes and never looked back.

For that, they had Gavin Smith to thank. Smith opened the scoring with a 53-yard punt return before taking a screen pass 85 yards to the house four minutes later. He finished off his three-touchdown day with a 50-yard rushing score in the third corner.

With that, Smith single-handedly scored as many touchdowns as Apollo in Notre Dame Prep’s eventual, 56-21 win. He finished with over 200 all-purpose yards.

“It feels great,” Smith said. “We always go in trying to get on top early and have early momentum and being able to do that for the team feels awesome.”

Next up, the Saints face No. 2 seed Tucson Salpointe Catholic in the quarterfinals Friday night.

Nov. 18, 2021

Russell Davis II, Football, Chandler Hamilton

Russell Davis II recorded three sacks in Hamilton's win over Chandler on Friday.
Russell Davis II recorded three sacks in Hamilton's win over Chandler on Friday.

Over the final three quarters of Arizona’s biggest regular season high school football game of the year, Hamilton held Chandler scoreless. Led by their defense, the Huskies emerged 21-14 victors, ending the Wolves’s winning streak at 45 games.

At the center of those efforts was senior defensive end Russell Davis II. Davis, who made The Republic’s All-Arizona team last season, recorded nine tackles, three tackles-for-loss, three quarterback hurries and three sacks in the win.

With 16.5 sacks this season, Davis broke Hamilton’s single-season school record. He is committed to play at Arizona next year.

“Friday’s win against Chandler was definitely a highlight of my season,” Davis said. “They’re a well-coached team with talented players. Chandler always brings their A game and my team and I were able show that we are just as good as they are and we came out with the win.”

Thanks to the win over Chandler, Hamilton enters the Open Division playoffs ranked No. 1 in the state. The Huskies open their postseason against American Leadership Academy-Queen Creek on Nov. 26.

Nov. 11, 2021

Demond Williams Jr., Football, Chandler Basha

Entering Friday’s matchup against Mesa Mountain View, Basha had never finished a regular season undefeated. With a 44-30 win that stamped the Bears’ place as third-favorite entering the Open Division playoffs, that changed.

Basha’s 10-0 season was made possible by talent on both sides of the ball. But perhaps most important was sophomore quarterback Demond Williams Jr.

This season, Williams Jr. has 3,033 all-purpose yards, along with 33 touchdowns to go with just three interceptions.

“(Williams Jr.) is extremely athletic, throws a great ball,” Basha coach Chris McDonald said. “Ball's very live out of his arm. (He) leads his team. (He is) a kid that teammates really like, really gravitate to.”

Against Mountain View, Williams Jr. culminated his outstanding regular season with 342 yards and two touchdowns on 23-of-27 passing. He also added 83 yards and a score on the ground.

Nov. 4, 2021

Trivium Prep quarterback Luke Willingham has led the Crimson Knights to five consecutive wins.
Trivium Prep quarterback Luke Willingham has led the Crimson Knights to five consecutive wins.

Luke Willingham, Football, Goodyear Trivium Prep

After an 0-4 start to the season, Trivium Prep used a 5-0 finish to sneak into the 2A playoffs, which start Friday, as the No. 15 seed. To get there, they needed a healthy dose of heroism from senior Luke Willingham.

Over the final five games, Willingham — a dual-threat quarterback — ran for 895 yards and 14 touchdowns. In last Friday’s regular-season finale against Wellton Antelope, he put up his best performance yet, rushing for 221 and four touchdowns while catching a 26-yard receiving touchdown on a double pass.

“I am happy to play for a coach (Michael Spencer) that gives me the green light to make plays using my skill set as well as putting us in a position to succeed,” Willingham said. “I have never played for a team with a greater will to win than this brotherhood we have at Trivium Prep.”

On Friday, the Crimson Knights will face a stiff test in their bid to keep their season alive as they face 9-1 Phoenix Arizona Lutheran, the division’s No. 2 seed. If they can pull off the upset, they’ll likely have Willingham to thank.

Oct. 29, 2021

Jacob Ratkus holds seven individual school swimming records at Estrella Foothills.
Jacob Ratkus holds seven individual school swimming records at Estrella Foothills.

Jacob Ratkus, Swimming, Goodyear Estrella Foothills

Swimmers at Estrella Foothills compete in eight individual events. Jacob Ratkus, a senior at the school this year, holds records in seven of them: The 50 yard freestyle, 100 yard freestyle, 100 yard butterfly, 100 yard backstroke, 200 yard freestyle, 200 yard individual medley and 500 yard freestyle. The only individual record he doesn’t hold is the 100 yard breaststroke.

“Jacob Ratkus is an incredible swimmer and a great addition to the team,” Estrella Foothills coach Katie Stover said. “He has helped me by encouraging the younger and new swimmers to try their best. I am very excited to watch him swim next weekend at the state meet. He has qualifying times in all of his events, but is thinking he will be swimming the 200 (yard individual medley) and the 100 yard freestyle.”

This weekend, he and his teammates added yet another school record, this time with a 1:34.02 in the 200 meter freestyle relay.

As the team’s best swimmer, Ratkus swam the anchor leg. Nate Wright, Noah Amenhauser and Tanner Sheffert completed the other three legs.

This weekend, the Wolves’ relay teams have an opportunity to break school records in their other two relay events — the 200 meter medley relay and the 400 meter freestyle relay.

And, as always, they’ll be anchored by Ratkus.

Oct. 22, 2021

Camelback quarterback Max Martin passed for four touchdowns in his debut for the Spartans.
Camelback quarterback Max Martin passed for four touchdowns in his debut for the Spartans.

Max Martin, Football, Phoenix Camelback

In its first five games this season, Camelback got out to a middling 3-2 start, never scoring more than 27 points in a contest.

All that, though, came with quarterback Max Martin on the sidelines. Martin transferred to Camelback from Peoria Liberty this offseason and was first eligible for last Friday’s game against Phoenix North Canyon.

The junior made the most of his opportunity, passing for 305 yards and four touchdowns on 28 attempts. His performance boosted the Spartans to a 53-44 win as they enter the back half of their season.

“Max Martin performed beyond my expectations for his first game but didn’t surprise me,” coach Brandon McNutt said. “His work ethic, leadership, and character on and off the field has prepared him for this moment and will continue week in and week out.”

Oct. 15, 2021

Catalina Foothills freshman Finn Meister finished in first at the Flowing Wells Boys Tournament of Champions last weekend.
Catalina Foothills freshman Finn Meister finished in first at the Flowing Wells Boys Tournament of Champions last weekend.

Finn Meister, Golf, Tucson Catalina Foothills

Catalina Foothills may have finished in second place as a team at this weekend’s Flowing Wells Boys Tournament of Champions, but Falcons freshman Finn Meister was the star of the weekend.

Meister won the tournament by five strokes, shooting a two-under 138 across two days at Silverbell Golf Course in Tucson. He displayed remarkable consistency, with a one-under 69 leading the field both days.

“It was awesome to get the win at the Flowing Wells Tournament of Champions last weekend,” Meister said. “My ball striking was excellent and I hit a few close for birdie, made some good putts and got up and down when I needed to. I’m really happy that our team moved inside the top 12 and with a few matches left, we have a chance to make the state tournament.”

Meister was the Junior Golf Association of Arizona player of the year in the age 13-14 bracket in 2020, but this was his first tournament win. He had finished in second place in three different tournaments over the past two years.

Oct. 8, 2021

Trevor Querciagrossa, Cross Country, Phoenix Sunnyslope

Across the board, the times at the Glendale Showcase on Oct. 2 were much slower than those a week earlier, at the Desert Twilight XC Festival.

Trevor Querciagrossa won two meets this season for Sunnyslope.
Trevor Querciagrossa won two meets this season for Sunnyslope.

That didn’t stop Sunnyslope senior Trevor Querciagrossa from bringing home first place for the first time in his career. After finishing seventh among all Arizona runners with a 15:24.4 at Desert Twilight, he posted a 15:31.7 at the Glendale Showcase, finishing nearly a full minute ahead of all other runners.

Despite the slow track, the time was the 12th fastest among Arizona runners this season.

“Every single race I am feeling more confident,” Querciagrossa, who finished 33rd at last year’s state championship meet, said. “At the Glendale Showcase, I felt relaxed and fast.”

Oct. 1, 2021

Grady Hickey, Scottsdale Chaparral, Football

Before Friday’s rivalry game against Scottsdale Saguaro, Chaparral junior running back Grady Hickey had been primarily used as a receiver, with 298 receiving yards and 150 rushing yards through three games.

On Friday, his biggest impact came on the ground. Hickey was again involved in the passing game, catching five passes for 84 yards, but he ran for a season-high 102 yards on just four carries.

Critically, 89 of those yards came on one fourth-quarter run. With the game knotted at 20 and just over five minutes remaining, Hickey took the ball from Chaparral’s own 11-yard line. He burst through the Saguaro defense, taking it to the house and giving the Firebirds a 27-20 lead.

“It was inside zone but I just saw a hole outside and I just took it,” Hickey said.

The touchdown ultimately made the difference in a 27-26 win for Chaparral as Saguaro failed to a convert a two-point conversion later in the quarter.

“My guys just never gave up,” Hickey said. “We knew were going to win tonight.”

Sept. 24, 2021

Hamilton kicker Jacob Medina successfully converted two onside kicks in a Sept. 17 win over Bishop Gorman (Nev.).
Hamilton kicker Jacob Medina successfully converted two onside kicks in a Sept. 17 win over Bishop Gorman (Nev.).

Jacob Medina, Chandler Hamilton, Football

With just over a minute to play on Friday night, Hamilton trailed Bishop Gorman (Nev.), 24-7. As Jacob Medina lined up for a 46-yard field goal attempt, the game appeared all but over.

By now, you know what happened next. The Huskies scored 18 points in one minute to shock Bishop Gorman, 25-24, live on ESPN.

“It really shows the rest of Arizona and the country what Hamilton High School is really capable of,” Medina said.

Medina was at the center of the comeback. His field goal with 1:05 kept Hamilton alive. Still, the Huskies were down 14 and needed a miracle. Medina provided it, converting consecutive onside kicks to give quarterback Nicco Marichol a chance to win the game for Hamilton.

“We worked all season on those,” Medina said of his onside kicks. “We knew it would come down to a big game and we'd use. We executed when we needed to.”

Sept. 17, 2021

Chandler Davis celebrates after a Hamilton win, Friday, Sept. 10, 2021 at Casteel High School in Queen Creek, Ariz.
Chandler Davis celebrates after a Hamilton win, Friday, Sept. 10, 2021 at Casteel High School in Queen Creek, Ariz.

Chandler Davis, Chandler Hamilton, Football 

Hamilton junior defensive tackle Chandler Davis was a one-man wrecking crew on Friday night against Queen Creek Casteel. 

Davis finished the night with four of Hamilton’s six sacks, consistently making life difficult for Casteel quarterback Landon Jury. Jury finished with just 97 yards on 28 pass attempts, thanks in large part to Davis’s efforts. 

“Being out here doing these things, having a player go down, (senior Russell) 'Deuce' Davis went down, it brings a lot of pressure on me but you gotta take it like a man," Davis said after the game. 

Davis also recorded one sack in Hamilton’s season opening 56-7 against Mesa Desert Ridge. 

The Huskies are back in action on Friday night with a marquee matchup against Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas. 

Sept. 10, 2021

Terrence Keyes ran the second-fastest time in the state for Gilbert.
Terrence Keyes ran the second-fastest time in the state for Gilbert.

Terrence Keyes, Gilbert, Boys Cross-Country

Gilbert senior Terrence Keyes won the Chandler Invitational meet on Saturday, Sept. 4.

Keyes finished first in the senior race at 15:32.40 minutes, the best time among all males and females and every class-year in the meet.

Keyes is starting the 2021 season strongly after his individual third place finish in the 2020 Division II boys cross-country state championship in November 2020, in which he led Gilbert to its first ever team title.

Sept. 3, 2021

Valley Christian football running back/outside linebacker Kaden Majercak
Valley Christian football running back/outside linebacker Kaden Majercak

Kaden Majercak, Chandler Valley Christian, Football

Valley Christian senior running back and outside linebacker Kaden Majercak had the most versatile performance in the Trojans' season-opening home win, 38-24, over the defending 3A state champion Snowflake on Aug. 27.

“We were looking forward to play Snowflake for our first game of the season.  It was exciting to play the state champs this early," Majercak said.

Despite not scoring any of Valley Christian's five touchdowns, Majercak was a major factor in the Trojan offense's field positioning toward the red zone. He had 16 carries for 97 yards, two receptions for 26 and 1.5 sacks. 

"Our team put in a lot of work all spring and summer long getting ready for this season and we are excited to see some of the rewards with an early season victory over a very good team," Majercak said. "We know that it is just one win and we are back at it preparing for the next team on our schedule.“

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: azcentral Sports Awards Boys Athlete of the Week, 2021-22 season