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High school football: players to watch: Cota beats you with arm, intelligence …

Over the next seven days we will feature our picks of Southern Arizona’s top preseason high school football players.

Our countdown continues with Salpointe Catholic’s senior quarterback Andrew Cota, an efficient and versatile passer for the Lancers.

Andrew Cota

• The rundown: Andrew Cota, QB, 6-0, 192, Salpointe, senior

• Who he is: An experienced and athletic field general with an embarrassment of riches at his disposal. Cota enters his third season at quarterback for the Lancers with another talent-filled roster and high expectations, but also with something to prove. Cota missed four games last season with a broken forearm, dampening what otherwise was a solid season. Now a senior, Cota returns with a scar slicing down his left arm and a chip on his shoulder. Over the offseason, Cota worked on fundamentals in the pocket with his brother Jamie, a standout passer at Sunnyside who led the Blue Devils to a state title in 2003. Andrew Cota also said he’s worked on becoming more of a vocal leader, and since coach Dennis Bene gives him a lot of autonomy at the line to audible plays and change routes, he has a huge responsibility in the success or failure of Salpointe’s season.

• Proof he’s good: His efficiency. While Cota has mobility, rushing for 834 yards and 15 scores the past two seasons, his numbers from the pocket are even more telling. His 3,887 passing yards are nice. His 67.2 completion percentage is even better. But what really makes Cota shine, and what Bene said is a must for any Salpointe quarterback, is his decision-making. Through two seasons, Cota has only five interceptions compared with 36 touchdowns. Add that to the extensive film study he has done over the summer and Cota has a chance to claim Tucson’s quarterbacking crown this season. Schools have taken notice too, as San Jose State, Colorado State, and New Mexico State have shown real interest, though none has offered a scholarship yet.

• He said it: “I’m versatile. I can be a pocket-passer if you want, I can also run the ball. I can do pretty much anything.”- Cota.

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