Marana senior quarterback Elijah Joplin, one of the top returning players at his position in the state, suffered a broken orbital bone around an eye during a recent 7-on-7 game and that may sideline him this fall.
“I am doing well,” Joplin wrote in a text message. “Not sure if I’ll be able to play sports this year but keeping a positive attitude.”
Joplin, also a member of the Tigers’ basketball team, had a breakout season last year at quarterback for Phillip Steward’s team.
A 6-foot-1 and 180-pound standout with an accurate arm, he completed 194 of 279 passes for 2,658 yards with 30 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also rushed for 11 touchdowns while compiling 173 yards on 76 carries.
Following a 338-yard, five-touchdown passing performance last September against Flowing Wells, Joplin earned an Ed Doherty Award nomination medallion. That made him eligible for voting for the Ed Doherty Award, presented to the state’s player of the year.
“As of now, he is out until they can run further tests,” mentioned Steward, who went 7-3 in his first season as Marana’s coach. “I believe he will be back.”
If Joplin misses all of the football season, Steward could turn to versatile athlete Sam Brown at quarterback. Brown, a 6-foot and 175-pound senior, played that position his freshman season under former coach Louie Ramirez.
He completed 78 of 166 pass attempts for 809 yards with three touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Brown was also an Ed Doherty Award nominee after his 14 receptions for 178 yards in the Tigers’ 36-35 comeback win over Sunnyside last October.
He finished as one of the state’s top receivers last season with 883 yards on 52 receptions with nine touchdowns. He also was a standout defensive back with 65 tackles, five for loss, with five interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.