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McGaha has firm grip on success

Don Ketchum
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 19, 2004 12:00 AM

When arriving for a photo shoot at Tempe Town Lake, Coolidge High quarterback Angel Felix didn't need to shake the hand of Moon Valley's Chris McGaha to realize that McGaha has the grip of an outstanding wide receiver.

McGaha's reputation preceded him.

"O.J. (Coolidge wide receiver Oscar Palacios) played basketball with him before, said he has great hands and can really jump," Felix said. "It would be great to be able to throw to both of them."
Few quarterbacks would turn down the chance to throw the ball in McGaha's direction.

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound senior caught 82 passes for 1,593 yards and 22 touchdowns to help Moon Valley earn the Class 4A championship with a 14-0 record.

Those numbers, combined with 278 yards rushing and 1,089 yards in returns, have earned McGaha the honor of Big School Player of the Year (classes 5A and 4A) from The Republic.

"The only way to put it is that he is a tremendous, tremendous player," Moon Valley coach Roger Britson said.

"Whenever we needed a play, a first down, we would go to him, even though he would be double- and triple-covered. On defense, we put him on the opponent's best player (McGaha had two interceptions). He plays on kickoff and punt coverage. He blocks for the extra-point team. He never comes off the field."

McGaha got ready for his senior season by working with a southeast Valley trainer.

"I worked the treadmill with the incline a lot," he said. "It helped with the speed and my vertical (jump)."

Whenever he got the chance, he and his close friend, Moon Valley quarterback Brian Wriston, would go out and play catch. They continued all the way through the season as Wriston, who committed to Northern Arizona earlier this week, threw a state season-record 49 touchdown passes and 3,370 yards.

"We've known each other since the seventh grade," said McGaha, who likely will choose between Arizona State, Arizona, San Diego State and Boise State. "We have a good chemistry. He puts the ball up, and I try to go get it.

"As a receiver, you have to have confidence you can catch the ball, even if you have to go over somebody. You have to believe you can score every time."

McGaha putting wraps on great year

Senior does it all for Rockets

Richard Obert
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 26, 2004 12:00 AM

Chris McGaha sits in coach Roger Britson's office after another Moon Valley football practice and unravels tape from his ankles.

He adds it to a season's worth of tape that has grown to the size of a pumpkin. It feels like a medicine ball.

"We're going to have a thing at the end of the season where everybody guesses how much it weighs," McGaha said. "Everybody will put a dollar in, and the winner gets the pot."


It might even sell on eBay the way McGaha has put up numbers for the Rockets. He is the school's Rocket Man, a 6-foot-3, 185-pound senior wide receiver/defensive back who ignites his team with his kickoff and punt returns.

That is when teams accidentally kick to him.

"We didn't want to kick to him, but one of our kicks went right to him, and he just took off," Thunderbird coach Gary Mauldin said. "He is the best kick returner I've ever seen."

Britson said: "He's like a racehorse, ready for the Kentucky Derby."

The statistics are staggering for a guy who is constantly double-teamed.

He has nearly 1,600 yards from scrimmage: 1,367 in receiving, 209 yards rushing. He has returned one punt and two kickoffs for scores on a team that is averaging nearly 54 points a game and is 12-0. McGaha has caught 20 touchdowns passes and has scored three TDs on rushes.

Defensively, McGaha has 59 tackles and two sacks. The only thing he doesn't have is an interception.

"He'll be on extra-point blocks, and he'll try to block every extra point," Britson said. "He's what I'd call the definition of an athlete."

Tonight, McGaha will be assigned defensively to Centennial's Matt Keith, Britson said. Junior Hackworth is another outstanding receiver for Centennial.

"People from Centennial think that Keith is better than McGaha," Britson said.

It's hard to believe anybody in Arizona is better than McGaha, but this is the showdown everybody has been waiting for - two 12-0, high-scoring teams with sound defenses.

Moon Valley hasn't been to the state final since 1986, when it lost to Mesa Mountain View for the 5A championship. The last state football title for the Rockets came in 1982, when they went 14-0.

"I think people are going to make us the underdog, not only because we're the lower seed, but because they figure we haven't played anybody," McGaha said. "But personally, Centennial hasn't played anybody either, besides Chaparral."

This will be Moon Valley's biggest test offensively.

McGaha won't leave the field, but the ball doesn't always have to be in his hands.

"He helps out a lot . . . as a decoy, as well," said Rockets quarterback Brian Wriston, who has thrown for 2,925 yards and 44 touchdowns. "People double cover him, and it leaves Tsar (Johnson) in single coverage. But still, in double coverage, (McGaha) always finds a way to get open, and I get him the ball."

McGaha has narrowed his recruiting list to four visits: Arizona State, Arizona, Boise State and San Diego State. He can take one more, but he said he hasn't decided.

His thoughts for now are on Centennial.

"I think it's going to be a close game, but I hope it's not," McGaha said.

A victory would give McGaha more opportunities to add to his ball of tape. The ritual has been special bonding time between player and coach, who has another idea for that ball of tape when it's finished.

"It could be an art project for the semester," Britson said.

McGaha's football season has been a work of art.

November 23, 2004
McGaha’s team continues to roll in playoffs
Adam Munsterteiger Editor
This fall, Moon Valley’s offense has been one of the most productive in Arizona prep football history. One reason for their success has been wide receiver Chris McGaha. He has more than 1,300 yards and 20 touchdowns receiving this season. San Diego State quarterbacks coach Brian Stark was at McGaha's game last Friday

This story originally published on

McGaha Sets Official Visit to Tucson Premium Story
By Andrew Friedman
Date: Nov 3, 2004

Chris McGaha has a set top four and has scheduled three official visits. He has been to Tucson on a few unofficial visits and we find out where the Cats stand amongst his current favorites.

This story originally published on

Moon Valley's Chris McGaha has size, speed, talent
Moon Valley's Chris McGaha has size, speed, talent
Early Christmas in Boise? Premium Story
By Rafter17
Date: Oct 19, 2004

Chris McGaha has already got enough letters from colleges to wallpaper his bedroom. He has official offers from 3 Pac-10 Schools, 4 MWC Schools, and even a Big-12 School. Yet with all that interest, McGaha has only set 3 visits. Boise State is one, but what chance do the Bronco have? You might be surprised

Chris McGaha
Schools in the Running

Arizona State
Boise State
Colorado State
San Diego St.

Summer Workouts Pay Off for Wide Receiver Premium Story
Date: Aug 5, 2004

Summers in Phoenix, Ariz. have people longing for working air conditioning, and those are the folks that were not lucky to leave town for cooler climates. However, Moon Valley’s Chris McGaha is not seeking a reprieve from the desert heat, as he goes through two-a-days workouts. He told DevilsDigest that his training regimen has already paid dividends.

Colorado Offers Phoenix WR Premium Story
By Andrew Friedman
Date: Sep 10, 2004

Chris McGaha had an unbelievable first game. He went off on seven catches for 171 yards and a touchdown, one rush for 65 yards and a TD, and 40 punt return yards. Colorado recently offered him and put in a phone call to the WR within the last week. McGaha has eight offers in all and CU is one of the schools competing for his final visit

Moon Valley rolling along

No. 3 Rockets down Sunnyslope

Brian Gomez
Special for The Republic
Sept. 24, 2004 12:00 AM

Moon Valley (4-0, 1-0 Skyline Region) got help from senior wide receiver Chris McGaha, who totaled 145 all-purpose yards and scored on an 84-yard reverse late in the first quarter to give Moon Valley a 12-7 lead that it never relinquished.
In four games, Moon Valley has outscored its opponents 222-55. The three touchdowns that Sunnyslope (3-2, 0-1) scored were more than Moon Valley had allowed all season.

High-powered Moon Valley offense sinks Mingus

Jim McCurdy
Special for The Republic
Sept. 18, 2004 12:00 AM

It used to be that Moon Valley had a watered-down theory that power prevails.

Friday, the Rockets soaked Cottonwood Mingus with a passing game featuring a legitimate college prospect in quarterback Brian Wriston. No. 3 Moon Valley beat Mingus 64-7 in a Class 4A non-region game at Washington High.

Moon Valley was forced to move the game to Washington after discovering its field was flooded in a disturbing prank Friday morning. Moon Valley officials issued a reward for answers.

"What separates this group is they don't ever think they're satisfied," Moon Valley coach Roger Britson said. "It's been a great commitment."

Moon Valley went 81 yards in 10 plays, scoring on its first possession on a 22-yard pass from Wriston to Jeff Jones. Brandon Hunter returned a blocked punt to the 4-yard line on the first play of the second quarter, setting up Matt Hain's touchdown run on the next play. Wriston hooked up with Tsar Johnson, who did most of the damage after the catch, on an 85-yard scoring play to give the Rockets a 22-0 lead in the first half.

"We were all jarred up in the first half," said Moon Valley receiver Chris McGaha, who had five catches for 101 yards and a touchdown. "I said at halftime we just needed to play our game and put 50 on them."

Moon Valley (3-0) is all about scoring. Hain ran for 84 yards on six carries and scored twice. Johnson had five catches for 145 yards. Corby Rice returned a kick 94 yards for Mingus (1-3).

Wriston passed for 291 yards.

"He's got great command of the offense," Britson said. "I really think he could be a Pac-10, Mountain West quarterback."

As lethal as its offense is, the Rockets defense is just as dangerous. They picked off two passes, had four sacks and recovered two fumbles.

Juniors to Watch: Moon Valley Premium Story
By Andrew Friedman
Date: Mar 8, 2004

Head Coach Roger Britson spoke highly of three players he will have next year in Chris McGaha, Brian Wriston, and Mike DeVincinzo. McGaha was a first team all-state selection as a junior at two different positions and was a first team all-region selection at three. We take a look at all three.