Cienega running back Willie Willis took the high route for a TD in a win over Prescott Valley Bradshaw Mountain in last year's state playoffs. Dean Knuth

The preseason high school football All-Southern Arizona team continues today with No.3 on our list of 22 players. Check out a video clip on KVOA Channel 4 tonight at 6 and 10. The team was chosen by Arizona Daily Star and the staff at KVOA and will be revealed daily through Aug. 22.

Willie Willis • RB • 5-7, 185 • Cienega, Sr.

• Who he is: The undersized but overtalented transfer from Hawaii burst onto the scene as one of the area's most elusive running backs last year. Yet even as his rushing totals soared, Willis was overshadowed by Canyon del Oro star Ka'Deem Carey. That could happen again this year, with Carey preparing to play for UA in 2011 and the laid-back Willis leaning toward NAU. At his size, Willis knows he must dazzle opponents in more creative ways. He agreed with Cienega coach Nemer Hassey to take on an expanded role at different positions - slotback, receiver, even quarterback - to keep defenses guessing.

• Proof he's good: Willis ran for 447 yards and five touchdowns - in Cienega's first two games. By season's end, he had 1,506 yards and 24TDs. What Willis lacks in size, he makes up for in speed and vision. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds, and Hassey says Willis sees the field as well as any runner he's encountered. Willis' true test will come this year, as Cienega introduces a new offensive line after losing almost everyone to graduation. Trent Simon, last year's star receiver, also moved on, putting more of the offensive load on Willis' shoulders.

• He said it: "I don't feel (the load) as much as I should, since they have me playing so many other positions. We're gonna catch teams off-guard, with people they don't know about, and use me more as a decoy. The colleges know what I can do. They asked me to improve my blocking. There's stuff I need to improve on."

Michael J. Craven


• What: Day 3 - Willie Willis

• When: 6 and 10 p.m.

• TV: Ch 4