“I wanted to try somewhere away from home,” said Bruce, a two-way Sabercats standout who will concentrate on defense for the Vikings, an NAIA school that lost its first game last season and then finished with nine wins in a row.
Bruce, the student body president at Foothills, played quarterback/defensive back for Foothills, which made it to the Division IV state semifinals. He is content to play in the secondary at Valley City State.
“It’s a good fit for him,” Sabercats’ coach Rodger Schenks said. “With his size (6-foot-3) and athleticism, I think he will be successful. He’s the type of kid who will blossom wherever he goes.”
Asked if he had visited the campus in one of the colder areas in the country, Bruce smiled and said, “No. I’ll go up at the end of February or beginning of March.”
The other three will continue their education and careers together at Scottsdale CC. The Fighting Artichokes were 7-4 last season.
Navarette, ranked No. 9 in the senior class and a first-team all-state selection at tight end, admits his first thought was to take a different route. However, he would like to play Division I football and didn’t get the offers he was seeking.
“This is best for me now,” said Navarette, who projects as an outside linebacker. “It’s still my goal to play at a Division I school. Junior college was a backup plan. We’ll see what happens after two years. It will be good playing with high school teammates.”
All three agreed that being together enhances the experience. Howes and Leep, both offensive linemen, also harbor thoughts of Division I football, but are willing to bide their time and enjoy the community college experience.
“It’s good that we will be together,” said Howes, another first-team all-stater. “It’s a better environment for college and athletics.”
Schenks feels the family atmosphere that he promoted at Foothills will carry forward for the three at Scottsdale CC.
“It’s a comfort thing for them, especially at a junior college” Schenks said. “They will show up in August and there will be 100 athletes. They’ll have their buddies there who feel the same.”
San Tan Foothills figures to have at least one additional signee when record-setting all-state running back Carlos Melendez makes his college decision.