Don Ketchum
Former Staff Writer,

T-Bird will be young on football field, but has potential

June 13, 2014 by Don Ketchum, AZPreps365

“We’ve got a lot of work to do.’’

Those words can be uttered by just about any high school football coach at this time of year as their team prepares for the fall.

In this particular instance, it was Phoenix Thunderbird’s Brent Wittenwyler doing the talking. He didn’t say those words with a tone of hopelessness, but with a tone of optimism.

The Chiefs’ most recent work came on Wednesday (June 11) at 7 on 7 passing competition on the practice fields at Arizona State.

“We’re getting better, but we’ve still got a ways to go,’’ Wittenwyler said. “We have a lot of young players and many of them are very athletic.’’

Thunderbird won the old Class 4A Division II state championship in 2010, and now is in Division III. The Chiefs finished 7-4 in 2013, falling to Goodyear Desert Edge in the first round of the playoffs.

Wittenwyler expects to have a roster in the mid-40s, a decent-sized group of players to work with.

Thunderbird suffered a key loss with the announcement by wide receiver Adam Turner that he is transferring to Phoenix Pinnacle.

So Wittenwyler will press on with receiver-running back Kaleb Hofer and running back-receiver Dominic King, who the coach says has looked good in drills up to this point.

The defense has potential, and one of the leaders will be linebacker Bret Ruff.

The quarterback spot appears to be up for grabs, with three candidates lining up. Wittenwyler is looking forward to seeing which one of them steps up and takes control of the offense.

The coach likes the summer-passing format, but knows that he and his team must keep things in proper perspective.

“Some of the competition is more laid-back and this one (at ASU) is more exciting,’’ he said. “But you have to remember that there is no pads, there are no linemen and there is no tackling, so things can be a lot different when you start the season.’’