When you see Chaparral senior defensive end and tight end Anthony Lucas tearing it up on the gridiron, you would never guess that he just started playing football as a freshman in high school.
In fact, Lucas had no big intentions of getting into football until he stepped onto campus at Chaparral for the first time.
“(Someone) came up to me at freshman orientation a couple days before school started and pretty much told me I’ve got to play,” Lucas said. “I emailed the coaches, and me and my Mom sat down with the coach and I had a nice talk with them. After my freshman year, I fell in love with the game.”
Lucas quickly engrained himself into the Firebird football culture and has become one of the marquee names for the program in the last couple of years.
“Anthony is a big personality,” Chaparral head coach Brent Barnes said. “He’s one of those guys that people gravitate towards. He’s always interacting with his teammates, he’s always engaged.
“When you have a guy that works hard and does everything right, even though he’s a superstar, that’s why we were able to win a championship last year, because guys like him are the ones that are doing everything right and are working as hard or harder than everybody.”
Thankful to be rated a 5 star and a the #13 player overall by 247 sports. Back to the grind. @ChapfootballAZ @CoachZoo90 pic.twitter.com/iixxShVE8t
— Anthony Lucas (@Anthonylucas201) October 21, 2021
In October, Lucas committed to play in the Under Armour All-American game. He was also named a 5-Star athlete by 247Sports.
This season Lucas has 33 total tackles, two sacks, nine and half tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.
“He’s been doing all the things we felt like he would do,” Barnes said. “His expectations are so high, sometimes too high for some of those guys. People expect them to be great on every play in everything they ever do and that’s just not human nature.”
Watch it now: 40 Years of Arizona High School Football
PRESSURES OF RECRUITMENT
Being great 100 percent of the time isn’t realistic and the way the recruiting landscape has evolved over the last several years with social media hasn’t helped those pressures.
There’s a lot put on the shoulders of these high school athletes around choosing the school where they will continue their education and football careers.
“What’s put on these kids these days, I couldn’t imagine having to deal with these extra things that they’re having to deal with now,” Barnes said. “For (Anthony), because he’s such an easy-going, laid-back guy, that likes to have a good time, I think it’s been tough for him to manage all that comes with recruiting.”
Lucas said that there has been a lot of pressures surrounding his recruitment this year, but that he’s surrounded himself with people who help him keep his head on straight.
BIG ANTHONY LUCAS GIVES CHAPARRAL THE LEAD
27-21 over Brophy after a blocked extra point, 4:21 left pic.twitter.com/sJyT7Bj83s
— ArizonaVarsity.com 🔥PREPS🔥 (@AZHSFB) October 16, 2021
“I don’t let it get to my head,” Lucas said. “I let all the outside noise run its course. Relying on the people around you, family and friends that know who you are and want the best for you, you spend as much time with them as you can.”
Read more: Centennial and Chaparral collide in featured GameTime Arizona matchup
Lucas has taken quite a few trips this year as he’s been working towards deciding on where he will play football at the next level.
Most recently he made trips to LSU, Notre Dame, and Texas A&M. He’ll be taking his last visit this upcoming weekend to Alabama.
“He’s logged more miles on trips in the last year than I have in my lifetime,” Barnes said. “They’ve been fortunate to really get out to the places that they’re trying to decide between and get a good feel for the staff, the place and everything that goes with that.”
Lucas said the best part of his recruiting trips has been getting to experience the games and really getting to talk with the players and get firsthand insight of the programs.
As the season winds down, he said his recruitment is still pretty open and isn’t sure if he’ll be narrowing down his decision further publicly.
BREAKING: Five-Star DL Anthony Lucas is down to these 7️⃣ Schools, he tells @On3Recruits
The 6’5 280 DL from Scottsdale, AZ is
ranked as the #13 Player in the Class of 2022 (#5 DL), according to the On300 Rankings.
Where Should He Go?👇🏽 pic.twitter.com/8kowYL1elo
— Hayes Fawcett (@Hayesfawcett3) August 3, 2021
What he does know is that his top priority in where he ends up is with a program that he will thrive on the field and off it.
“I want a school that will be able to set me up for a future after football,” Lucas said. “Right now, I’m thinking (of studying) business, sports management or sport media.”
Lucas will be graduating from Chaparral in December and enrolling early at the next level.
“I want to get comfortable with the college atmosphere before the season rolls around,” Lucas said. “I want to learn the playbook as much as possible too.”
RUN IT BACK
As the regular season winds down, the Firebirds are looking to make another push for a State Title.
Where the rankings stand now, Chaparral will be in the 6A playoffs.
Chaparral hosts Centennial this Friday, then closes out the regular season at Pinnacle.
“I’m making sure that me and my teammates keep our heads together,” Lucas said of his hopes for the last couple weeks of the regular season. “We’re trying to run it back.”
The Centennial Coyotes (3-5) take on the Chaparral Firebirds (4-4) in our GameTime Arizona featured matchup – Friday, Nov. 5 at 7:00 pm MT/9:00 pm CT.
How To Watch
Watch it on YurView Arizona – Cox channel 4 in Phoenix and channel 7 in Tucson. Cox customers can also watch the games on their phones using the Cox Contour App. Download the Contour App on Apple and Android.
Live streams and replays of all games will be available to rent or purchase at watch.yurview.com.