A frequent target in Wickenburg High School’s summer seven-on-seven passing competition, sophomore Calgero “Ro” DiCamillo goes up for a pass against Valley Vista when the Wranglers competed against three other teams last week at the new Ottawa University Field in Surprise.
By Kevin Cloe
Unlike other teams its size, Wickenburg High School’s football team didn’t dodge the big boys this summer.
The Wranglers, under their second-year head coach Mike Mitchell, stood up against three larger schools in the second of their two seven-on-seven summer passing tournaments last week. Although they lost all three of their brief contests, they were competitive in two of them — not bad for a team not known for its passing game.
Coach Mitchell, who came to Wickenburg last year with more than 50 years of coaching experience, was pleased with his Wranglers’ efforts but disappointed in the number of his players (only 12) who participated in the popular summer football competitions. He said there are areas that still need work, but his small corps of players who will compete in the fall against other 3A Conference schools fared well against the bigger-school competition, which included 6A teams from Valley Vista of Surprise and Cesar Chavez of Laveen and 5A Verrado of Buckeye.
In fact, the hosting Valley Vista coach thanked the Wrangler contingent for accepting the invitation after the four-team tournament. He told them other schools comparable in size to Wickenburg High declined invitations or purposely avoided participation due to the size of the other entrants. Last week’s group of contests at Ottawa University was the second consecutive week when the Wranglers traveled to Surprise to compete in the passing contests.
So what did the Wranglers show against the tough competition?
First, they came up short against host Valley Vista — scoring two times to the hosts’ three touchdowns. Each team was given a series of plays to score from 40 yards out — turning the ball over if it failed to earn a first down within four plays.
Then, against Verrado, the Wranglers were unable to score but limited the Vipers to just one touchdown. In the third and final battle of the evening, the worn-out Wranglers (playing both offense and defense in heat hovering around the 100-degree mark) were shut out 5-0 against the quicker and faster Cesar Chavez squad.
The important factor for the Wranglers, though, is their status as a passing team this coming fall. They lost 3A West Region Player of the Year in quarterback Michael Mindnich to graduation as well as running back-receivers Kegan Lindsay and Joe Moder and wide receiver Isaac Olson.
Stepping up to fill the key vacancy will be junior quarterback Bryson Alder, who has not only demonstrated a strong passing arm with impressive accuracy but also his mobility to throw on the run. Plus, he is also expected to be an elusive running threat for the Wranglers.
Then on the receiving end, Alder’s favorite target this summer has been sophomore Calgero “Ro” DiCamillo, a versatile athlete who is expected to see action as a running back, slot receiver and back-up quarterback. He scored one of the Wranglers’ two touchdowns against Valley Vista while also playing free safety on defense.
Junior Clay Watson, who scored the other TD for the Wranglers against Valley Vista, will be relied upon mostly as a defensive linebacker this coming season but demonstrated his ability this summer as a tight end/slot receiver.
Senior Tyler Ness and sophomore Korbyn Dowdy also were utilized as receivers, coming out of the backfield, during the two-hour passing competition last week. Missing in the summer programs have been anticipated returnees Michael Flinn, the team’s leading tackler as a linebacker and also a running back/receiver; and Troy Adamo, who was the team’s fourth-leading receiver with 14 receptions for 146 yards and three touchdowns
The Wranglers, however, have traditionally been better known as a strong running team, which was developed during spring practice sessions and will continue when fall practices officially start in August.