Will Galvan might touch the ball 30 times Friday night when Glendale Cactus plays Gilbert Higley for the 5A state high school football championship at Sun Devil Stadium.
But Higley will have to search for him on almost every play.
He could be at wide receiver. In the slot. At running back. Playing quarterback.
"We're going to move him all around," coach Brian Belles said. "He's playing everywhere at all times, and you never know where he's going to be. And when he's going to be there. And he plays the whole game at cornerback, too."
In the 26-18 quarterfinal win over defending 5A champion Phoenix Horizon, Galvan played some quaterback with starter Rudy Gonzales. But Galvan never threw a pass. But, wow, did he run -- 232 yards on 23 carries. And, oh yeah, playing wide receiver in the game, Galvan caught two touchdown passes from Gonzales.
Last week, in the 21-17 win over top-seed Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep, Galvan ran for 87 yards and a score on 22 carries and caught two passes for 48 yards. And he had the game-sealing pass breakup in the end.
"He's a special kid," Belles said.
Cactus is going to be sorry to see him go. At 5 feet 8, 160 pounds, he's one of the smallest players on the field. And one of the hardest to contain. And maybe the most unselfish.
When Belles asked Galvan to give up his quarterback duties before the season and move to receiver, Galvan was all in. Whatever he could do to benefit the team.
But it wasn't without a speed bump. Cactus began the season with a 29-6 loss to Desert Mountain and 48-7 loss to American Leadership Queen Creek. The Cobras barely got by Snowflake, the 4A finalist, 7-0 in the White Mountains, before losing to Open finalist Basha 58-0. All of this came during a 2-3 first half of the season.
They've not lost since with Galvan taking off. Ten of his 13 touchdowns came in the last six games.
"It feels amazing," Galvan said, about returning to the championship game. "Last year was an eye opener, going to the Open and playing a big-level school."
Last year, Cactus, playing in 4A, was too good to play in the 4A playoffs and got bumped up to the Open after going 10-0. In a heartbeat, their season was over, falling to Scottsdale Saguaro 42-21 in the first round. Saguaro went on to win the Open title.
Galvan could just look back at an incredible regular season and a gutsy effort agaisnt Saguaro, one in which he 78 yards and a TD.
His freshman year, Cactus lost to Mesquite 28-27 in the 4A semifinals. As the quarterback his sophomore year, Cactus fell to Mesquite again, this time 39-38, in the 4A championship game, after quarterback Ty Thompson rallied Mesquite during a 15-0 final quarter.
"This year we wanted to come out on top," Galvan said.
It helped that Cactus got promoted from 4A to 5A by the Arizona Interscholastic Association. The Cobras had to replace five offensive linemen. Injuries forced Belles to start two new offensive linemen in the Basha loss. But after that game, two transfers -- Jose Mora and Aman Fears -- came in to take over two spots on the offensive line. That took care of the O-line issues.
Gonzales, a transfer from Glendale Deer Valley, also became eligible and he moved into that starting role. He has thrown for 1,192 yards and eight TDs in seven games, after throwing for 14 TDs last year at Deer Valley.
Another big emergence was sophomore wide receiver Nikko Boncore, who has caught nine TD passes and is averaging 19 yards on 56 catches. He played some on varsity as a freshman, catching six passes for 80 yards and a TD. In his last two playoff games, Boncore had four catches for 118 yards against Horizon, and 148 yards and two TDs on six catches against Notre Dame.
Boncare is among eight two-way starters.
"The mindset (this year) was to get the rings, win a state championship," Boncore said. "Bringing it home. Like the youth football days. That's how we're doing it."
But it won't be easy. Cactus is having to close it out against the best offense it has seen since Basha with quarterback Jamar Malone II, running back Dax Hall and receivers Carter Hancock and Dom Esposito all putting up huge numbers.
"We have to pay a lot of attention to the details of our game plan," Belles said. "But it's going to be hard to stop an offense like that for four quarters. The quarterback is a problem through and through. We've got our work cut out for us."
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Can Cactus star Will Galvan finally win that elusive HS football championship?