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Wednesday, July 27, 2016


It's Carl Hayden's second day of official practice for 2016 high school football season.  As you walk up you can tell your not in Chandler, Mesa or Scottsdale, and not because of the surrounding neighborhood but because you don't see fancy equipment, college recruiters or even parents watching their son's practice.

What you do see is a group of young men working to be the best they can be.  First year coach Randy Gross knows it's difficult to win in the Phoenix Union High School district, but he knows it's possible.

As I watched the team run their offense I noticed how in tune the offense was.  That's impressive for any team in their second day of practice but even more so for the Carl Hayden Falcons.

The team won just 2 games last year and was blown out in just about every other game.  But something changed when Gross took over the program.  He brought with him a group of very talented coaches that work well together and are teaching the team how to do so as well.

Gross believes his team will do well this season. Despite losing it's top lineman for the season they have a very talented center in Fernando Monroy.  Coach Gross called him "a great high school center."

Gross also has a quarterback, senior Jeremy Matos, that he trusts to go along with three talented running backs, including one that played on the line last year. Gross says he slimmed down for wrestling and the coaching realized he was athletic enough to make the switch to the backfield.  Gross encourages his players to play multiple sports.

Carl Hayden may not have a winning season or even make the playoffs but they are off to a good start in turning around a program that hasn't been to the playoffs since 1996.

They proved how much they are improving this summer when they placed second in the Phoenix Union 7 on 7 Passing League Tournament and 2nd in the Big Man Challenge. This will be a breakout season for the Falcons.

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