Two Devs earn 1st-team, all-region honors: Zegler-evans, Gladeau showered with AIA 3A West Region accolades
MOHAVE VALLEY — Six River Valley High School Dust Devils student- athletes earned recognition from the Arizona Interscholastic Association 3A West Region for their exploits on the gridiron following the 2018 season
Dust Devils defensive end/outside linebacker Brenan Gladeau and wide receiver Sam Zegler-evans each earned AIA 3A West Region First-Team honors following their junior campaigns.
“Two of our best players last year,” said River Valley head coach Jonathan Clark about Gladeau and Zegler-evans by email. “Two of our best leaders thus far in the offseason.”
The Dust Devils finished with a 4-6 overall record, 4-3 in conference and 3-2 in region last season.
“I have a council of five guys — a leadership council, if you will,” Clark said. “They are both involved and a part of that.”
Zegler-evans’ production improved nearly five times compared to his sophomore season.
“Personally, when I was first awarded first-team all-(region) wide receiver I was very proud and happy for myself,” Zegler-evans said. “Especially because after coming off a season with only 76 receiving yards the year before and then
this past season ending with 416, it felt good.
“I was especially proud because I was awarded (honorable mention 3A) all-conference and that includes every team in 3A rather than just our region we compete in.”
Zegler-evans played eight games, had 19 receptions for 416 yards — 21.9 yards per catch — with four TD grabs last season.
“Honestly, last year I was not too sure on playing football, so I didn’t attend any of the summer practices nor the first game of the year,” Zegler-evans said. “I still attended the workout sessions during the summer to build strength, which helped a lot during season time.
“Once I realized I wanted to play after the team had already played their first game, I knew I was going to go out there, work hard, fight for the starting spot and have a successful season.”
The second-year Dust Devils’ head coach is already looking forward to the 2020 season and was willing to share some of his plans for the upcoming campaign.
“Sam will be a focal point on offense this year and one of our only true two-way players. Other guys will get snaps on both sides, but he’s a clear starter.
“Brenan will help anchor the defense. He had a total of (8.0) sacks last season; hopefully, he can better that this year.”
Gladeau played nine games, and 24 of his 41 tackles were unassisted in 2018.
Clark said Gladeau’s and Zegler-evans’ influence extended far beyond the gridiron.
“They are both a huge part of our team, not just because of (their) athletic ability,” he added. “(They’re) great character kids, very committed and (have the) ability to motivate and lead others.”
Gladeau appreciated the recognition.
“I felt very humbled and honored to earn the award,” said Gladeau by email. “It felt good to know that all my work is paying off and I hope to continue getting better going into my senior year.
“A lot of my improvements came from our new coach who helped me get stronger and gain more confidence in my game.”
Seth Solano earned a spot at linebacker and long snapper on the second team, along with linebacker Cole Shott, as well as defensive utility/flex player Layne Vancil, quarterback Seth Christy and running back Richard Vega.
Seniors Solano and Shott played football physically, along with the above mentioned, which had to add a lot of grit to Clark’s squad last season.
“Coming in, I felt that Seth and Cole would be our leaders and we would go as far as they took us,” Clark said. “Seth going down the first game really hurt us — left a large void we had to fill.”
Solano gained 95 yards on 17 carries with two TD runs, and he recorded 10 receptions for 185 yards — 18.5 per catch — with two TD grabs in seven games in 2018.
Clark said Solano finished the last four games with over 100 yards total offense and a TD each game — all while playing defense, also.
Thirty-one of Solano’s 52 tackles were unassisted last season.
Clark said Solano also performed well academically during the 2018 football campaign.
Shott played nine games, and 46 of his 61 tackles were of the solo variety.
He also chipped in 4.0 sacks.
“Cole was very consistent on defense for us throughout the year,” Clark said. “He committed to being present at all events and helped us to win those games during the second half of the season.”
Shott also recorded 205 all-purpose yards with two TDs.
River Valley started slowly in 2018, as Clark did not garner his first victory until his Dust Devils lost their first three games of the season.
The River Valley head coach has been monitoring his Dust Devils since the season ended in late October, which was not the case a season ago.
“Looking back, I wish I could have gotten here sooner than June (2018),” Clark said. “I was not able to really build that relationship you need to have success on the field.
“It really taught me the importance of an offseason in setting your philosophy.”
After River Valley’s poor start, the Dust Devils finished 2018 with four victories in the last seven games.
“Seth Christy has grown by leaps and bounds,” Clark said. “He’s much more capable of running the style of football we want to run.
“He will be our play-caller and one of the five I mentioned before: leadership council.
“If he can play within himself, he will be a first-team quarterback this year.”
Vega played eight games and rushed for 477 yards on 92 carries with seven TD runs during his sophomore season.
“Richard Vega had developed dramatically, as well,” Clark said. “Coming in, I had a lot of players that were suspicious of me as the new coach.
“They had had several guys walk on them. Vega was one of those guys — very quiet and wouldn’t really dialogue with me.
“I feel we are at a point, now, where there is mutual trust.”
To come to River Valley as a first-year head coach and have a sophomore RB of Vega’s caliber made a major impression on Clark.
“I love his bulldozer running style,” Clark said. “He always seems to fall forward after contact. He will be our No. 1 back going into the season. He’s dedicated himself to the weight room, also, and has seen growth in strength and speed.
“I’m excited for him. He deserves his shot and he will get it.”
AIA 3A CONFERENCE HONORABLE MENTION ARE: Incoming seniors Sam Zegler-evans and Brenan Gladeau.
3A WEST REGION HONORABLE MENTIONS: Graduating Layne Vancil, linebacker; incoming sophomore Micheal Dulin, offensive line; and incoming senior Sam Zegler-evans, defensive back.
AIA’S PROCESS OF RECOGNIZING STUDENT-ATHLETES: The AIA is pleased to recognize the student-athletes and coaches as selected in the statewide recognition process. For the team sports, each conference chair will enter the results as agreed upon by the conference of those individuals eligible based on making their respective region teams. The conference results will be posted by the conference chair at their discretion, according to the aiaonline.org’s website.