This year, YurView Arizona is proud to highlight two athletes who have made an immense impact on Arizona high school football. We have chosen an offensive and defensive player who are leaders in their respective programs both on the field and off, and have displayed exceptional talent.
Here are the YurView Arizona Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year.
READ: ARIZONA BECOMING HOTBED FOR HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL TALENT
Bijan Robinson, RB Salpointe Catholic – YurView AZ Offensive Player of the Year
Robinson helped lead the Lancers to Arizona’s first Open Division playoffs while shattering records along the way. The Texas commit became the state’s all-time touchdown leader with 114 and the state’s leading rusher with 7,036 career yards.
Not only did he set two state records, but he also became the first running back to top 2,000 yards in three consecutive seasons.
“I wasn’t even looking to break records,” Robinson said. “As the season was going on, I didn’t know how close I was to every single rushing record in the state.”
What is perhaps more impressive than the way he plays, however is Robinson’s demeanor off the field, Salpointe head coach Dennis Bene said.
At halftime of the Lancers final regular season home game, Robinson was about 25 yards away from securing the record of three straight seasons of 2,000 rushing yards.
Salpointe was up by a lot, and Bene approached Robinson and asked if he wanted to go get the record in what could be his final home game, in front of his family and home crowd.
Robinson looked at Bene and told him ‘Coach, don’t worry about it.’ They’d be playing more games, he wanted his teammates to get some time.
“That’s just the kind of kid he is,” Bene said. “He wasn’t worried about his records. He truly is, and has always been, a very supportive teammate and he really shares his success with all of his teammates.”
Robinson said he knew if he was meant to get the record he would, but that the most important thing to him then was that his teammates got some time.
“To see the young kids have fun and have them get the opportunity to play in a Varsity game on senior night, I wanted that opportunity for them,” Robinson said.
READ: FUTURE LONGHORN BIJAN ROBINSON IS “UNLIKE ANYONE IN THE NATION”
Salpointe does not allow students to graduate early, so Robinson won’t be in Austin until the summer.
While he still has awhile before he arrives on campus, Robinson is already looking forward to making an impact for the Longhorns right away.
“As people saw (Texas’) rushing game wasn’t that great this year,” Robinson said. “I feel like I can bring an automatic presence. I’m already getting to work right away with my trainer.”
Robinson said a lot of his growth over the last year has come from working with Salpointe athletic trainer Carla Garrett.
“The difference people saw from last year to this year, my strength, my hip mobility, how I get off the ball, I want to give credit to Coach Garrett, because she’s been the best,” Robinson said.
Kelee Ringo, CB Saguaro – YurView AZ Defensive Player of the Year
Ringo’s career with Saguaro is not over yet. The country’s No. 1 cornerback will look to help his team win the Open Division title against Chandler on Saturday.
At 6’3” 205 pounds, he’s an explosive athlete that can move and read opposing offenses extremely well.
So well in fact, that teams began game planning to avoid Ringo at all costs, leading to him seeing less action on defense.
As a result of not much coming his way, head coach Jason Mohns put Ringo in at running back this season.
“When you’ve got a Thoroughbred horse and you keep them locked up in the stable, the horse wants to run, that’s what he’s built for,” Mohns said. “It’s been fun to open up the gates and let him run.”
Ringo has racked up over 700 rushing yards and a team leading 13 total touchdowns in addition to being one of the Sabercats’ key weapons on defense.
Since he’s been playing on both sides of the ball, Ringo has discovered a unique perspective of the game.
“It improves his play on defense because he’s got a better feel and sense for the situations and where the game is at and how important it is for us to get stops so we can get the ball back,” Mohns said.
Ringo sees how his own game has improved playing two ways, but being able to make such an impact for his team is the biggest reward, he said.
“It’s helped me a lot, but most of all it’s helped my team,” Ringo said. “Playing corner, team’s like to avoid me a lot, but being able to go to the other side of the ball, allows me to help my team more and contribute more to our wins.”
READ: SAGUARO’S KELEE RINGO SETS THE STAGE FOR STARDOM
Mohns said throughout the season Ringo has continued to develop as an athlete, but has also grown as a person taking on more of a leadership role with the Sabercats as the year progressed.
“Our team made him an assistant captain halfway through the year because of the role he had taken on in the locker room and on the field,” Mohns said. “I think (playing both ways) re-energized him as a player to feel like he was really making a difference and he was responsible for helping our team win.”
Ringo has narrowed down where he will play next year to five schools: Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Oregon and Ohio State. He plans to announce his college commitment at the All-American Bowl on Jan. 4.