Although they have built a tradition of excellence at Heritage Academy Mesa, this is the first time they’ve ever had back-to-back undefeated seasons. Let’s take a look at the D2 Football State Championship game that happened last weekend.
Going into the game, the varsity Heroes knew that Highland Prep would be very well coached and would give them different looks on defense. But Heritage came from a great week of practice and had prepared for adjustments during the game. They came in confident and their Playmakers made big plays. Their objective was to control the Temple of the game from the get-go and that’s exactly what the team did.
When asked about any standout players, Coach Jose Portilla said, “All the seniors stepped up this year with so many distractions that came with the pandemic. They took it upon themselves to lead the young group to the State title”.
There is only one goal at Heritage Academy Mesa and that is to build on the legacy of former teams and to return back to the State Championship. The game mirror’s life in so many ways. There are peaks and valleys throughout games, practices and a season. After eight years of coaching at Heritage Academy Mesa, Coach Portilla says he always tries to relate to these young men and women when coaching them. “I compare situations of football to their personal experiences which they are having at school, personal life and their future. The old saying is true – it’s not where you start but how you finish that will count”, he said.
The Heroes were a young team this year and will only be losing 8 graduating seniors. They are big advocates of a multi-sport experience so many of their players will participate in winter and spring sports. That, together with a good weight training regime, will allow 22 determined players to come back stronger than ever next year!
According to Coach Portilla, “Being part of the CAA for student-athletes is very important. Most of our athletes are academically inclined and the CAA gives them an opportunity to grow as individuals and build memories that would not be there for them in a bigger school system. It gives them the opportunity to expand their wings and achieve full potential in different aspects of the high school experience.”