Ex-Maverick Bound For West Point

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What might have been.

That's probably the feeling Longhorn football coach Jerry Rhoades has when mulling over the fact that one of the state's finest high school football players came within an eye lash of playing at Payson High.

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Former RCMS football and basketball star Pete Hargis, now a senior at Desert Vista High School, will play football next season for the United States Army Military Academy at West Point.

Pete Hargis, 18, now a senior at Tempe Desert Vista High School, led the Rim Country Middle School Mavericks four years ago to an undefeated season and the White Mountain League championship.

Just prior to enrolling at Payson High, however, Pete's family pulled up stakes and moved from Pine to Phoenix.

At the time the Hargis family moved, Rhoades was not the coach at Payson High School.

Had he been, Rhoades would probably have done about everything possible to convince the family to remain in the Rim country.

After Hargis enrolled at Desert Vista as a freshman, he went on to become one of the finest football players in the history of the storied Thunder program.

A stellar senior year as the Thunder's signal caller earned Hargis collegiate offers from Idaho State, Arizona State, Oklahoma State, New Mexico and The United States Military Academy.

After traveling to West Point, N.Y. in mid-January, Hargis nixed all offers to play for second-year coach Bobby Ross at Army.

Ross is a coach of some fame having led the San Diego Chargers to the Super Bowl and Georgia Tech to a national championship.

But Ross' resume wasn't the reason Hargis chose Army.

Rather, he selected the military academy because Ross offered him the opportunity to play quarterback. The other schools were recruiting Hargis as a defensive back.

Also, Hargis said, he chose Army because Ross is committed to turning the program around -- the cadets were 2-9 last season --and because the academy offers one of the best educations in the country.

Tough kid

The lure Hargis had for Ross and other recruiters is easily understandable -- he's one of the most hard-nosed, well-rounded players in Arizona.

For the Thunder last season, the 6-foot-1-inch, 190-pound Hargis started at quarterback and played free safety on defense.

In huge 5A schools like Desert Vista, only a handful of players are ever good enough to start on both sides of the ball. Hargis was one of that handful.

He was also a team captain and was chosen to the All-Central Region and all-city teams. One of his most notable feats was winning the Jimmy Williams Leather Helmet award for being the toughest kid on the Desert Vista team.

He wrapped up the campaign with 540 yards rushing on 88 attempts and four touchdowns. Through the airways he completed 90 of 154 pass attempts of 1,094 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interception.

As a sophomore on the junior varsity, he started at quarterback and linebacker and was named the most valuable player at the conclusion of the season. During his freshman season, he won the linebacker of the year award for first year players.

The White Mountain League championship Rim Country Middle School football team he quarterbacked finished undefeated, outscoring opponents by a 367-0 margin. Hargis also played basketball for the Mavericks and starred in Little League baseball.

Hargis' grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Ginn, live in Strawberry.

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