Salpointe Catholic boys swimming coach Matt Hough was thinking state championship.
Hough originally thought the Lancers were going to compete in Division II of the Arizona Interscholastic Association's new reclassification plan.
"At first we were very excited," Hough said. "Catalina Foothills would have been our main competition there, and we thought we could win state this year."
Then the AIA threw Salpointe a curveball and put the team in Division I. Normally, such a small jump wouldn't be that big of a deal, but Phoenix Brophy resides in Division I, and the Broncos have won 30 of the past 31 top-division state championships.
"We had to move on and redirect our goals at that point," Hough said.
The Lancers may have some new goals, but that hasn't stopped them from getting off to a hot start.
Salpointe topped Catalina Foothills earlier this season in a dual meet, and it was the first time in Hough's 10 seasons as coach that the Lancers beat the Falcons in a head-to-head format. Hough's team also beat Rincon/University, the 2008 Class 5A Division II state champion, and heads to the 51-team Brophy Invitational on Saturday feeling good.
"Beating Rincon was a boost, and then we beat Foothills by 60-plus points, and that built our confidence up a lot," Hough said. "Foothills has been the dominant program for a long time, and we've been close before, but beating them was big."
What's exciting for Hough and scary for Salpointe's opponents is that the Lancers are very young. The team has just two seniors that regularly contribute to scoring and feature a pair of juniors, Tyler Mattingly and Alex Leighton, who are among the top swimmers in the state.
Behind Mattingly and Leighton, the Lancers have a strong core including underclassmen Jojo Simonson, John Hines, Jesse Hansen and Connor McGinnis.
Canyon del Oro running back Ka'Deem Carey will miss his second straight game tonight when the Dorados host Nogales.
Carey has been battling some nagging injuries.
"We're just trying to get him to full speed," coach Dusty Peace said. "He's been at 75 percent, so we just wanted to give him a couple of weeks to get back to 100percent for the stretch run."
Carey will certainly be in the lineup next week when CDO travels to the Valley to play Scottsdale Saguaro in one of the best matchups of the season. Saguaro is 3-0 with an average margin of victory of 44 points.
Sahuaro quarterback Kevin Ackerley wasn't sporting his regular number last week in a 17-14 win over Catalina Foothills.
Instead of wearing his normal No. 7, Ackerley wore No. 25 to honor former Sahuaro football standout Rick Botkin, who was killed in a car accident during his senior season in 1977. The game was officially titled the Rick Botkin Memorial Football Game.
Ackerley had a passing and rushing touchdown in the win.