It has been so long since the Deer Valley football team has been to the playoffs that coach Sven Christianson is not even sure when it happened last.
Winning a region championship? For longtime Skyhawks fans, that is ancient history.
Now in his second year at the North Glendale school, Chris-tianson said he is about ready to completely put his stamp on the program with hopes of getting the Skyhawks back to the 5A football elite.
"Last year, we had a bunch of individuals," Christianson said about last year's 3-7 team. "This year, we're a team. We set some high standards during the offseason and they came together as a group."
Leading the optimism around Deer Valley is the return of senior quarterback Travis Comer, a big 6-foot-2, 210 thrower with a strong arm.
Comer appeared stalled in Deer Valley's Wing-T offense last year, so Christianson changed the offense during the offseason to open up the game to suit Comer.
"Last year's offense didn't fit anybody," Christianson said. "This year, we tailored the offense to fit the kids we have. We'll spread the field out and throw it."
Comer will have a trio of wide receivers n Greg Brass, Chase Woodard and Tony Paul n who will be looking for the ball.
The offense will be balanced, however, and the Skyhawks are still looking for a running back to replace the departed Andy Ettienne, who was one of the fastest backs in the region last year.
Strong safety Cameron Enriquez is one of the returning leaders on the defense.
Deer Valley will be using a trio of juniors at linebacker n Bryce Finley, Jesse Whitson and Jason Thier.
The defensive line will include Ed Craft, Robby Hess and Kyle Liggitt.
"As a whole, we're young on defense, but they're growing out there in practice and they're picking up the concepts good," Christianson said.
Realignment has moved traditional rivals Ironwood and Peoria out of the region and new teams Trevor Browne, Maryvale and Alhambra in.
Deer Valley has kept Ironwood on its schedule as a non-region opponent.
"We have to be able to recover and battle back when adversity hits," Christianson said. "If we stub our toe, we need to recover. We didn't do that last year."
Sept. 5 at Camelback
Sept. 12 NORTH CANYON
Sept. 19 at Tucson
Sept. 25 at Ironwood
Oct. 3 KINGMAN
Oct. 10 ALHAMBRA
Oct. 17 at Maryvale
Oct. 24 TREVOR BROWNE
Oct. 31 MTN. RIDGE
Nov. 7 at Goldwater
* 5A Northwest Region game